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Red Sox 6, White Sox 1: Eighteen strikeouts

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Carlos Rodón relents to baseball’s best offense, while baseball’s most strikeout-prone offense flirts with history

Boston Red Sox v Chicago White Sox
Ace, Discarded: Carlos Rodón gave up five runs and departed in the seventh inning.
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

The White Sox entered tonight’s game with a collective 25.7 percent strikeout rate. If the season had ended this morning, that would have been a new major league record. (The Brewers set the mark at 25.6 percent last year.) The Sox surely helped their cause to that end tonight, because their 18 strikeouts against Eduardo Rodríguez and three Red Sox relievers came just shy of the nine-inning record.

Rodríguez was utterly dominant through the first four innings, striking out 10 batters without allowing a single baserunner. Carlos Rodón was able to keep up for a while, but he gave up a pair of solo shots in the top of the fifth. Eduardo Núñez led off and golfed a slider below the knees over the wall in left-center; the initial call of a double was overturned on review. Jackie Bradley Jr.’s high drive to right provided no such ambiguity.

After Matt Davidson singled to end the perfecto in the fifth, the Sox offense was finally able to get something going against Rodríguez in the sixth. Yolmer Sánchez skipped a ground ball up the middle for a lead-off infield single. Rodríguez coaxed a force-out from Adam Engel and struck out Tim Anderson (number 12) on three pitches, but Nicky Delmonico ripped a double into the left-field corner.

With the Red Sox’s lead cut in half and a runner in scoring position with two outs, manager Alex Cora came out with the quick hook, even with Rodriguez sitting at just 90 pitches. Ryan Brasier came in to face Avisaíl García and threw nothing but high-90s heat to get another strikeout (number 13). García came out of the game with knee soreness after the at-bat, and is currently described as day-to-day.

From there, the Red Sox took control on both sides of the ball. Rodón allowed the Dreaded Leadoff Walk to Christian Vázquez in the seventh, followed by a one-out double to Mookie Betts. With Ducks on the Pond, Andrew Benintendi hit a comebacker to Rodón, who checked the runner at third, wheeled around, and... made a high throw that tipped off of Davidson’s glove. Vázquez scored to make it 3-1, and Steve Pearce singled home another run.

At that point, Rodón’s night was done. He threw 109 pitches and failed to record a quality start for the first time since June 30. Ryan Burr came in and gave up another single to J.D. Martinez, putting a fifth run on Rodón’s tab before escaping with a double play.

With a 5-1 lead, the Red Sox bullpen was able to get back to striking out a ton of hitters. Davidson and Yoán Moncada led off the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back singles, but a groundout and two more K’s (numbers 14 and 15) stranded them both. Matt Barnes came in to pitch the eighth and struck out another pair (numbers 16 and 17) in a 1-2-3 inning.

Now, technically speaking, 20 strikeouts is the still the record for any team in a nine-inning game. In September 2016, the Red Sox struck out 21 hitters in the first nine, but entered extra innings and ended up with 23. If the Carmines were able to strike out the side in the bottom of the ninth, they’d have a historic performance on their hands. Alas, while the Sox went down in order once again, only Moncada struck out (number 18). That’s still an egregiously high number for a game ending in regulation, but just a footnote in what could be a record-setting season—that team K-rate is now up to 25.9 percent.

Eloy Stuff

  • Eloy Jiménez went 0-for-3 with a walk tonight. His Triple-A OPS is still 1.015. He’s still in Triple-A in September.