With Carlos Rodon struggling to throw strikes and Jake Petricka backing him up, the White Sox’ only hope was to make this a slugfest.
They had opportunities to get back in this one, but they couldn’t convert, so they ended up losing in a rout instead.
Rodon wasn’t necessarily the problem. He gave up three runs over five innings — unearned, but we’ll get to that — and handed over a reasonable 3-2 deficit to the bullpen. Jake Petricka still looks short on stuff, though, and he gave up five runs, all with two outs, to put this game out of reach.
Rodon was a mess, albeit an effectively wild one. He threw just 41 of 94 pitches for strikes and walked six over five innings, and he fell behind 3-0 before the Sox came to the plate. He threw a slider over a ducking Didi Gregorius in the first inning, and fired a fastball behind Aaron Judge’s in the second.
The three runs were unearned, however, because while Brett Gardner walked, took second on a wild pitch and took third on another, he scored because Gregorius hit a weird broken-bat one-hopper to Tim Anderson. He couldn’t read the spin/velocity well enough to break hard on it, so he backed up to field it, and his flat-footed throw sailed high and pulled Jose Abreu off the bag.
It could have been charged a hit, but Bob Rosenberg called it an error, so the run was unearned. When Rodon walked the next two batters and allowed a two-run single to Miguel Andujar, those were unearned as well.
And if that wasn’t lucky enough, Rodon got through the next four innings without a run thanks to fantastic defense.
Second inning: Yolmer Sanchez made a nice sliding stop on a Ronald Torreyes one-hopper for the first out.
Third inning: After walks to Chase Headley and Austin Romine with two outs, Miguel Andujar singled to left, but Melky Cabrera gunned down Headley at the plate.
Fourth inning: Adam Engel flagged down Torreyes’ drive in deep center with a great route, keeping the ball in his line of vision and keeping it from slicing over his head.
Fifth inning: Todd Frazier started a 5-4-3 double play with a diving stop that made Gary Sanchez pout.
That’s what it took to get Rodon through five. More than that, the Sox looked like they wanted to get him a no-decision or better in the bottom of said fifth.
They failed to string together hits against Masahiro Tanaka until that inning. Omar Narvaez led off by dumping a single to left, and Engel came within feet of a two-run homer to left center. Sanchez walked to load the bases, and Cabrera scored two by slashing a single to left center.
Jose Abreu stalled the rally by grounding into a double play, and while Avisail Garcia reached base on what should’ve been a strike — the bat went through the zone on a pitch that hit his hand -- Frazier grounded out to end the inning, stranding the runners on the corners.
That’s when Petricka came in and imploded. He almost escaped without a run, but Tyler Wade’s drive to right just cleared the outstretched glove of Garcia in right for a run. A double, a Rick Renteria ejection on balls and strikes, a single and an Aaron Judge 115-mph laser later, the White Sox trailed 8-2.
Even then, the Sox had a great chance to make the Yankees sweat thanks to the strong wind blowing in from right field. The Sox loaded the bases on a dropped flyball (Gardner collided with Wade in left field because the ball kept carrying him in that direction), a bloop single (Torreyes overran it behind second) and, two strikeouts later, a two-out walk. Frazier got a reprieve when his pop-up by the third-base dugout eluded Gary Sanchez, but he too struck out.
Michael Ynoa then let the team down by giving up four runs while only recording an out in the ninth inning, necessitating the use of an extra pitcher.
*Engel was the star in this one, adding a wind-blown homer in the ninth inning for a 2-for-3 day. Besides the hits, he drew a walk and made a couple great catches in center.
*Frazier and Abreu, on the other hand, combined to go 0-for-9 with four strikeouts. They stranded five runners apiece (which is something, because the White Sox only stranded nine as a team).
*Carlos Rodon’s line: 5 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 2 K, 2 WP
*Petricka and Ynoa: 1.1 IP, 7 H, 9 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR