Despite the result, tonight was fun to see the young players perform well. Yoan Moncada had his first multi-hit game and was on base three times. Nicky Delmonico continues to have a good series with three hits and driving in both runs. Topping it off, Carlos Rodon turned in one of his best starts ever.
However, we have to discuss manager Rick Renteria's bunting habits again.
There were two opportunities late to take the lead for Chicago and both instances Moncada and Delmonico began the rally. In the ninth against closer Craig Kimbrel, Moncada and Delmonico hit back-to-back singles with no outs. Then came Adam Engel, who before tonight was hitting 1-for-24 the last eight games with 11 strikeouts. Already 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and against one of the premier closers in Kimbrel, Renteria called for Engel to lay down the sacrifice bunt. He was successful, moving Moncada and Delmonico 90 feet closer to home plate. That move didn't pay off because Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson couldn't put Kimbrel's 100-mph fastball in play.
The second scoring opportunity came in the 11th when Moncada started the rally with a leadoff walk, and Delmonico singled to center. Again, Renteria called for the sacrifice, but this time Engel bunted too hard back to the pitcher Heath Hembree. Credit to Hembree fielding the bunt and Rafael Devers for making the fast move back to third base dragging his foot on Hembree's throw to get Moncada out. At first, Moncada was called safe, but replay showed that Devers was able to keep his foot on third base just long enough. Boston would get out of the jam by picking off Delmonico at second and Sanchez grounding out.
Renteria has spoken to his bunting habits as a way for him to learn more about what his players can accomplish in these situations unlike in practice. With a struggling hitter like Engel, there could be some understanding for opting to sacrifice in the ninth against Kimbrel, but the manager has to show more confidence in his young hitter to pull through against a lesser caliber reliever. Even if Moncada was called safe at third, the ends don't justify the means. Oh, and there should be a discussion about lineup sequencing.
Back to the good news - what a night for Carlos Rodon. Yes, he did have a 2-0 lead that he relinquished but it was impressive how Rodon maneuvered out of a big inning in the fifth. Allowing three straight singles to Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Chris Young cut the lead to 2-1 with runners on first and second. It had the feeling that after four terrific innings, Rodon was going to lose grasp of the game and the floodgates were going to burst.
Instead, Rodon struck out Christian Vasquez for out one. Then he encountered some BABIP bad luck as Jackie Bradley Jr. got an infield single because Tim Anderson's diving stop didn't result in an out. It was a nice play but Anderson's toss to Moncada who wasn't covering second base, and then Moncada threw to first which didn't have a prayer of getting Bradley Jr. out. That loaded the bases for Mookie Betts. Boston's faithful were expecting a big hit, but all Betts could muster was a hard ground ball to Jose Abreu at first. Understanding that turning two wasn't an option, Abreu threw out Bogaerts at home for out two.
Then came Andrew Benintendi and Rodon made quick work of him with a three-pitch strikeout. Crisis averted.
In the sixth, Eduardo Nunez hit his seventh home run of the season to tie the game 2-2. Instead of leading to bigger things, Rodon settled in setting down eight Red Sox hitters in a row to finish his night in the eighth with two outs. Rodon's final line: 7.2 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 11 K. His performance is also a first in White Sox history:
Carlos Rodón: (11 K, 0 BB) first #WhiteSox pitcher ever to strike out 10 or more without a walk in a start at Fenway Park— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 5, 2017
The White Sox also received a good outing from Tyler Clippard, who pitched two scoreless innings while striking out two. The loss fell on Aaron Bummer's shoulders as Mitch Moreland's fly ball to left field was just high enough to land in the Green Monster seats for his 14th home run of 2017.
Record: 41-66 | Box Score