The future of the White Sox is as uncertain as ever, but three of their young players provided some optimism about tomorrow tonight.
Carlos Rodon tied an American League record by striking out the first seven he faced, Tim Anderson came within a double of the cycle and Omar Narvaez hit his first career homer as the White Sox routed the Twins to open the final series of the season.
Rodon matched the feat of former White Sox pitcher Joe Cowley, who struck out the first seven batters of the game back on May 28, 1986. That start set the tone, and Anderson, who tripled in the first and scored the game’s first run, kicked it up a notch in the third.
After Tyler Duffey walked Adam Eaton to start the inning, Anderson came up and engaged in a prolonged battle, fouling off two full-count pitches. On the eighth pitch, Duffey grooved a 90-mph fastball, and Anderson crushed a no-doubter to left to give the Sox a 4-0 lead.
Anderson expressed a little satisfaction with the contact, and Tyler Duffey didn’t care for it:
Just watching Tim Anderson get under Tyler Duffey's skin. pic.twitter.com/XuMMUyd4Ua— Phenomenal Source (@SouthSideSox) October 1, 2016
That’s a pretty mild display, but Duffey watched Anderson around the bases regardless. Compounding matters, after Melky Cabrera drilled the next pitch to the right-center gap for a double, Brian Dozier lectured him at second base. Perhaps the Twins had bigger fish to fry, because Jose Abreu came through with an RBI double to knock Duffey out of the game with five runs over two-plus innings, spiking his ERA to 6.43.
The Sox ran their lead to 7-0 in the fourth when Narvez turned on the first pitch and cranked it into the Twins bullpen in right, and Eaton scored from first on a Cabrera bloop single that Robbie Grossman flung away from himself on his diving attempt.
The Twins only threatened once — a three-run sixth — and they needed Todd Frazier’s help. He got caught in between hops on Byron Buxton’s bouncer, turning a 5-4 fielder’s choice into first and second with nobody out. Brian Dozier loaded the bases with a single, and a wild pitch and RBI single made it a 7-2 game.
Rodon reloaded the bases with a walk, and narrowly dodged a Miguel Sano grand slam when his fly ball died in Eaton’s mitt against the fence, which brought home another run. Fortunately, a double play was still in order, and Rodon induced one from Kennys Vargas to keep the Sox’ lead at four runs.
Chris Beck pitched a scoreless seventh, Nate Jones stranded two of Beck’s runners and posted a zero of his own in the eighth and Tommy Kahnle closed it out for an easy finish.
Anderson had a shot at the cycle after singling through the right side in the sixth inning, but the Twins were still sore about the totally awesome home run he hit in the third. Ryan O’Rourke threw behind him to trigger a warning to both benches when Anderson came to the plate in the eighth, and Anderson ended up grounding out to third.
*Rodon finished a decent sophomore season with a fun line: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K. He finished the season going 7-2 over his last 10 starts.
*Cabrera joined Anderson with a three-hit game, and Carlos Sanchez was the only White Sox to go hitless.
*Abreu’s double netted his 99th RBI with two games to go.