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White Sox down Tribe, 8-5

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Dingers — and Vaughn — save the day

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians
No, José Abreu, not one dinger for you tonight, but two.
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Cold, cold night, hot, hot bats. And still it ended up in nail-biting mode.

Carlos Rodón threw almost as many pitches to get through five innings tonight as he needed for his no-hitter last time out — 110 to 114 — and Tony La Russa left him in to get the win, or to try to save some relievers with a bullpen day coming up Wednesday, or whatever, even though you knew it was probably a bad idea where Rodón’s arm is concerned.

All those pitches came thanks to five walks, eight K’s and some shoddy defense, since Carlos only yielded three hits, the first a Jordan Luplow homer leading of the third that ended 13 straight hitless innings, going back to the start before the no-hitter. Rodón was in trouble in every inning but the second, and even that one started off with a 10-pitch walk.

The big pitching moment came in the fifth. Nick Madrigal soft-tossed a throw to Yermín Mercedes, who was playing first for some reason, and Mercedes dropped it. Yasmani Grandal committed his first of two catcher’s interference errors, and Rodón walked the bases loaded.

Sacks packed, Carlos got two big strikeouts, and then was saved when a Cesar Hernández single off Yoán Moncada scored a run, but ended the inning thanks to really stupid baserunning by Josh Naylor (is it just me, or is Naylor an incredibly stupid player in general — he had saved Rodón’s no-hitter by trying to headfirst slide into first instead of running through it, thereby getting beaten to the bag by José Abreu) who was thrown out by about 20 feet trying to score from second, after running through a stop sign from his coach. And that was with José Ramírez on deck.

Rodón ended up with just the one earned run charged against him, but that ruined his perfect ERA on the season, sending it all the way up to ... 0.47.

While all that was going on, the Sox were knocking the ball all over the place, mostly into the stands. After a first run in the third on a Luis Robert double and two productive grounders, Tim Anderson hit the first of four team homers on the night.

The next inning, Abreu unleashed a blast worthy of the Mighty Casey himself.

At 115.6 mph and 458 feet, it was the biggest shot measured by Statcast since 2015. In comparison, Jose’s second homer, in the seventh, was a paltry 402-footer.

Yasmani Grandal had a two-run homer in the sixth, which kind of balanced out the two interference calls, wild pitch that should have been blocked, and passed ball he put together on defense. Or maybe not.

Grandal’s homer was part of a four-run inning, made possible by Zach Plesac inexplicably throwing two straight fastballs to Moncada, who basically hasn’t hit a breaking pitch all season. (Maybe it’s not just Naylor. While unusual for a Terry Francona outfit, maybe this is just a stupid Cleveland team.) Moncada smashed an RBI double and scored on an Abreu single, and Grandal brought José in.

The Sox built up a nice 8-2 cushion and looked to be headed for a laugher, but the bullpen had other ideas. Evan Marshall pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, but then it was hold-onto-your-big-furry-Russian-hat time. Aaron Bummer walked two to start the seventh, but held the damage to one run. Garrett Crochet walked two around Grandal’s second interference, but Codi Heuer came in to get a short fly ball.

At that point, Ramírez lashed a line shot toward first, where Andrew Vaughn had taken over for Mercedes. Good thing.

Dingers be damned, Vaughn’s was the play that saved the game. The smash would have brought in three runs, and those three runs were important, because Heuer got into more trouble in the ninth, giving up three hits and two runs before ceding to Liam Hendriks for the final out. Hendriks succeeded because Jake Bauers is such a horrible hitter the Sox didn’t bother to shift for him, and his opposite-field grounder became a routine 5-3.

I guess it’s nice of our allegedly super wonderful all-world bullpen to keep things exciting for those of us who might otherwise have dozed off, but they really shouldn’t feel an obligation to do so every game.

Speaking of the bullpen, they presumably get to fill in a whole game for the injured Lance Lynn tomorrow. With the Sox now at 9-9, it means the pen needs to be mightier than the swords of the Cleveland batters if the team is to get over the .500 barrier that has proven impenetrable so far.

Game time will again be 5:10 p.m. Central, with Bill Meincke on game coverage and the irrepressible Ashley Sanders taking the Six Pack.