The White Sox (85-65) started their three-game series against the Tigers (73-78) on Monday night strong, but suffered a disappointing finish. As of this morning, the South Siders’ magic number was at four. Unfortunately, the White Sox could not get the victory. The good news is that Cleveland dropped both games of its doubleheader, so the magic number fell to two.
Rookie Matt Manning was on the mound for Detroit, and he got off to a fast start. Manning got through the first two innings without much trouble, but the third inning was a problem. Brian Goodwin led off by drawing a seven-pitch walk, and Tim Anderson quickly singled him over to third. Then, Luis Robert was hit by a sinker to load the bases with nobody out. Yoán Moncada drove in the first run by grounding into a 4-6 force out, and Yasmani Grandal had another run-producing out with a sacrifice fly. Then, Eloy Jiménez launched a 380-foot RBI double to wrap up the big inning.
The bad news is that White Sox starter Carlos Rodón had a similar experience on the mound. After cruising through the first two innings, the Tigers rallied in the bottom of the third. It started out well, as Rodón got two quick strikes on Isaac Paredes to open that half of the inning. However, Rodón issued a walk in spite of that, and Willi Castro followed with a single. That set up Victor Reyes with an opportunity to drive in a run, and he did just that with an RBI single.
The Tigers still had no outs, and they were not done scoring. Jonathan Schoop became the fourth consecutive Tiger to reach base safely, though the White Sox probably should have gotten an out on this play. Schoop hit a grounder to second, and a fielding error by César Hernández allowed all runners to advance. Castro scored from third, and it was a 3-2 game. Miguel Cabrera wrapped up the scoring that inning with a sacrifice fly to tie it. That turned out to be the end of Rodón’s appearance. His final line: three innings, three runs (two earned), two hits, two walks, and six strikeouts.
The worst news, however, is that Rodón’s health may be an issue.
La Russa said Rodón needs to be examined and reassessed, but at this point, he thinks it’s doubtful he pitches next week.— James Fegan (@JRFegan) September 21, 2021
Rodón, who has a 2.47 ERA and a 2.64 FIP even after that rough third inning, has been a huge part of the rotation’s success. Hopefully, the reality is closer to Rodón’s postgame reaction than La Russa’s.
Carlos Rodón, on the other hand, describes how he's feeling, physically, as "normal soreness" that's "nothing crazy."— Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber) September 21, 2021
Unfortunately, Rodón quickly expressed irritation with the focus on his injury and cut his Zoom conference short — not the behavior of a guy who had a mere “off-night.”
After Rodón left the game, both offenses struggled. Manning lasted five innings without allowing any more runs, and the White Sox bullpen took care of business. José Ruiz, Garrett Crochet, and Ryan Burr each had scoreless appearances. Ruiz threw two shutout innings, while Crochet and Burr covered the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
The scoreless inning streak ended in the bottom of the eighth, when the Tigers created some two-out life. That inning started easily enough for Craig Kimbrel, who retired the first two he faced. However, Kimbrel hit Robbie Grossman with an 0-2 breaking ball, and Grossman stole second on a pitch that missed the strike zone by plenty. Then, Harold Castro poked a ground ball in the gap between Gavin Sheets and César Hernández, and the Tigers had their first lead of the game.
The White Sox went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth on three consecutive ground outs, so the Tigers held on for the win.
A possible silver lining is that the White Sox will be able to bounce back earlier than expected, as tomorrow’s game (originally scheduled for 5:40 p.m. Central) has been bumped up to 12:10 p.m. Central due to an expected storm. We’re scrambling for coverage due to the last-minute time switch to business hours, but somehow, some way, we will see you then.