Carlos Rodón let out a couple of bellowing screams as he pounded his chest and walked to the dugout in the steady rain after striking out Max Kepler to cap a six-inning start.
The White Sox (50-35) needed their All-Star pitcher to step up to end a three-game skid, and after back-to-back subpar starts, Rodón likely felt the same desire. Despite nonstop rain, he delivered six one-run innings in a 4-1 win over the Twins (35-49), proving to be a magician able to get out of jams to preserve a small lead.
That's our All-Star. pic.twitter.com/lsUCzcGWHB— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 7, 2021
Zack Collins, who recorded two hits, laced a two-run single in the second inning to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead, but they were retired in order in five of José Berríos’ seven innings. Even as the White Sox only managed one hit and three walks against Berríos, it was enough support for Rodón.
The Twins threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the second inning when they put two runners in scoring position with one out. But Miguel Sanó hit a grounder back to Rodón, and then Gilberto Celestino lined out to Adam Eaton to strand Ryan Jeffers and Max Kepler. It didn’t elicit the same roar as his sixth-inning escape, but was equally as big.
Rodón’s emotional final out will get the headlines, though. Luis Arráez hit an infield single when a grounder glanced off of Rodón’s glove, preventing a routine play for Danny Mendick. Following a Jorge Polanco strikeout, Nelson Cruz benefited from a towering pop fly getting lost in the rainy night and bright lights, with a .050 xBA popup falling between a trio of White Sox defenders who never saw the ball.
Alex Kiriloff’s single cut the lead in half, 2-1, and with runners on the corners and the White Sox’s poor offensive showing, seemed to be a turning point. Instead, it was Rodón once again stepping up to the occasion.
He struck out Ryan Jeffers on a 100.4 mph fastball above the zone. To end his night, he threw a 100.1 mph fastball on the outside part of the zone past Kepler, and made sure everyone at Target Field knew what he just did.
It was the ending to his eighth quality start, which featured eight strikeouts (four looking) and only one earned run on seven hits. Even as the Twins recorded five hard-hit balls, including four of 100+ mph, in the fifth and sixth innings, they couldn’t come up with a timely hit. His start also included two strikeouts looking by Arráez, whose 9.9% strikeout rate is the fifth-lowest in baseball among players with at least 100 plate appearances.
Given the weather, Yasmani Grandal injury news before the game and losing streak, it was a win to remember for Rodón, whose season is littered with them at this point.
But Berríos did his best to ruin Rodón’s gem by tossing his own. The White Sox struck out 10 times, with Berríos using an 84% first-pitch strike rate to help limit hard contact.
But in the second inning, the White Sox took advantage of a couple of first-pitch balls. Brian Goodwin and Leury García drew back-to-back walks to lead off the second inning, and then advanced into scoring position on a pair of errors. Collins’ two-run single came on a 1-1 sinker, as his at-bat started with a ball.
Still, the White Sox only managed three hard-hit balls against Berríos, and were seemingly pleased to face old friend Alex Colomé, recording four hard-hit balls in his one inning of work to blow open a tight contest.
Collins doubled (105.7 mph exit velocity), and then later scored on Adam Eaton’s single (104.7 mph). After Yoán Moncada reached on an error (102.2 mph) by the usually sure-handed Andrelton Simmons, José Abreu hit a sacrifice fly to give the White Sox a 4-1 lead.
Colomé’s ERA rose to 4.99, while the White Sox trotted out Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks.
Kopech worked around a leadoff single in the seventh inning to fend off the Twins, though a sliding García nearly threw out Sanó to start the frame. In a rare two-inning outing for Hendriks, he struck out four batters in a dominant 27 pitches.
Oh, and Billy Hamilton had maybe the catch of the year to rob Kepler, whose line drive had an .800 xBA. In the pouring rain, which picked up in the ninth inning, and running full speed toward the wall, Hamilton laid out for the second out of the inning on a ball that left Kepler’s bat at 104.1 mph.
WOW! pic.twitter.com/MypKUNx5nb— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 7, 2021
The White Sox go for the series win at 12:10 p.m. CT on Wednesday.