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Indians 6, White Sox 1: Carlos Rodon’s streak crashes to halt

Cleveland capitalizes on small strike zone with big hits

Carlos Rodon entered tonight with a string of seven consecutive quality starts, over which he was 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA. As you can guess from the headline and score, that streak is over, but it ended in an educational manner.

Rodon lost a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when he walked two batters and allowed them to score on Jose Ramirez’s triple. Ramirez then scored on a flare single to left, and the Indians had all the runs they needed, although a Coco Crisp two-run homer in the sixth truly put the game out of reach.

But let’s go back to the two walks, because this should be considered when figuring out the catching situation next year. When you look at the pitch charts for his first walk (to Mike Napoli) and his second walk (to Carlos Santana) in the fourth inning, he threw enough strikes to strike out both. Hell, Brooks says Rodon walked Santana without throwing a ball:

Rodon makes it difficult on his catchers, whether Geovany Soto last year or Dioner Navarro or Omar Narvaez this year, because he has stuff that is so hard and boring that he can get away with missing the mitt in the zone. That’s who he’s going to be, so the Sox need to better accommodate that. He shouldn’t have four missed pitches in a single at-bat, part of a game where he didn’t get 11 borderline-or-better strikes out of 95 pitches.

Somehow, he still threw 66 of 95 pitches for strikes, even with the small zone Dale Scott provided, but those walks set the stage for his demise tonight.

Then again, he would have needed to be lights-out, because the Sox once again couldn’t figure out Josh Tomlin. They had the opportunity to kick Tomlin while he was down. He went 0-for-5 with an 11.48 ERA over six August starts, causing him to temporarily lose his spot in the rotation.

Alas, the larger history won out. Tomlin lowered his career ERA to 3.08 in nine games against the Sox, including a 2.30 ERA since 2013.

The White Sox offense did grab a lead against him in the third, as Tyler Saladino reached on an infield single that deflected off Tomlin’s glove, then came around to score on Adam Eaton’s league-leading ninth triple. With one out, Tim Anderson had a chance to tack on a run with an out, but he struck out chasing, and Melky Cabrera flied out to center.

And so ended the last White Sox scoring opportunity that actually threatened Cleveland. The White Sox were just 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

Bullet points:

*The bullpen kept this game from getting annoying, as Blake Smith, Michael Ynoa (two innings) and Juan Minaya held the Indians to just one hit over the last four innings.

*Todd Frazier aided Smith’s scoreless inning by knocking down a crazy hop off first base on an otherwise routing grounder down the line. He was able to swat at it with his bare hand and recover in time for a calm flip to Smith. Eaton also tracked down a deep drive off Ynoa to start the eighth.

*Rodon’s start could have ended earlier, but he somehow punched himself off the ropes after giving up a double and a single to put runners on the corners with nobody out in the fifth.

Record: 70-75 | Box score | Highlights