After a week full of starts that registered from iffy to ugly, Carlos Rodon finally gave the White Sox rotation a start to crow about.
Rodon tied a career high with 11 strikeouts over eight shutout innings, driving the White Sox to a shutout in their final road game of the season. David Robertson struck out the side in the ninth to complete the two-hitter.
Rodon, only had to ward off one Cleveland threat after holding the Tribe hitless through the first four. He faced runners on first and second with nobody out after a single, passed ball and walk. Chris Gimenez bunted both runners over, but Rodon stopped the manufacturing line there. He induced a shallow flyout from Michael Martinez before blowing away Rajai Davis on three pitches to end the threat.
He only allowed one other hit, and that was on a grounder that deflected off his leg in the seventh. He finished just as strongly as he started, retiring the last six batters he faced and striking out the side in the eighth. He allowed more walks (three) than hits, but control wasn’t really ever a problem, as he threw 73 of 108 pitches for strikes. He finished with the second highest game score (89) by a White Sox starter this season, just three behind Chris Sale’s two-hitter against the Rays in April.
The White Sox needed that kind of effort, because runs were hard to come by. Josh Tomlin did what he does against the White Sox -- stifle them without overwhelming stuff — but the Sox found a way to scrape across a couple of runs after finding out that line drives and flies weren’t carrying all that well. The plan involved good, hard baserunning and leaky Cleveland defense.
Todd Frazier discovered this recipe. He led off the fifth with a single, stole second with two outs, then came home on Carlos Sanchez’s lined single to left. He might’ve been a gone goose with a lot of other left fielders, but Coco Crisp’s arm wasn’t up to the challenge.
Two innings later, Justin Morneau reached on wide throw by the shortstop Martinez, following by one-out singles by Avisail Garcia and Omar Narvez, the latter a 75-foot nubber that got past Tomlin and died in front of the shortstop. Robin Ventura called on J.B. Shuck to pinch-run for Morneau at third, and the managing paid off. Carlos Sanchez hit a fly to shallowish center to give Davis a running start on the throw home. He made a strong throw, but Gimenez couldn’t hold onto the ball as a diving Shuck came in. Shuck scored and both runners advanced on the second error of the inning.
A third Indians error led to the third run in the ninth. Frazier walked with one out, then first-to-thirded himself with a walking-lead stolen base and advancement when the throw caromed away into the outfield grass behind shortstop. Garcia struck out, but Narvaez picked him up by flipping a single into left to give Robertson another run he didn’t need.
*The White Sox finished with a road record of 33-48, and an 8-11 record in the season series against Cleveland. The former is a problem, but the latter could’ve been worse, as the White Sox took five of the last seven.
*The Sox won the battle of the strike zone, striking out just three times to two walks. The Indians whiffed 14 times to three walks.
*Rodon was especially effective against the top of the order, holding Davis and Kipnis hitless in eight plate appearances with six strikeouts.