CHICAGO -- When Carlos Rodon was told his day was done after five innings in Chicago's 5-2 loss to Cleveland on Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox starter had a message for manager Rick Renteria."He was like, 'I've got to be better,''' Renteria said."Yeah, not my best," Rodon
CHICAGO -- When Carlos Rodon was told his day was done after five innings in Chicago's 5-2 loss to Cleveland on Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox starter had a message for manager Rick Renteria.
"He was like, 'I've got to be better,''' Renteria said.
"Yeah, not my best," Rodon said.
By the numbers, Rodon's start was not much different than his season debut Saturday at Fenway Park. He allowed two runs over five innings, striking out four and walking three. Against the Red Sox, Rodon yielded two earned runs in five innings while fanning seven.
Those statistics really should be a secondary focus behind the crispness of Rodon's stuff. Including four Minor League rehab starts, Thursday was just his sixth trip to the mound for the 2018 season as he recovers from last September's season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery. His fastball topped out at 96.1 mph per Statcast™, with his velocity gradually rising as the game progressed.
It's a designed plan by Rodon and the White Sox, who don't want him to max out with every pitch. After working primarily fastball/changeup against the Red Sox, Rodon raised his slider pitch count to 22, getting four swinging strikes and two called strikes on the pitch. Rodon's goal is to get ahead more in the count so he can employ his wipeout slider to finish off opposing hitters.
But Rodon didn't want to take any mound rust into consideration after throwing 59 of his 100 pitches for strikes in five innings.
"I don't want to make that excuse. When you show up at this level, it's time to compete," said Rodon, who was happy with his four-seam fastball and the incorporation of more sliders compared to his season debut. "A little inconsistent today. A little everywhere. Try to get that back on track. Fastballs in, that's the key for me. I have a good fastball, just have to throw it."
"Hopefully the next one will be better, he'll be able to go deeper, a little more efficient," Renteria said. "He's got good stuff, so that's good. I think he got up to 95 or 96 today on some fastballs. Continues to work, and we'll see if he can clean it up."
Rodon allowed a leadoff homer to Francisco Lindor on his third pitch, then Cleveland put two men on base in the second. The Indians left the bases loaded in the third, when Rodon forced home a game-tying run with a walk issued to Yan Gomes.
Chris Volstad suffered the loss, allowing Jose Ramirez's 20th home run with two outs in the seventh to break the 2-2 deadlock. But it was another good series in the rebuild scheme for the White Sox, who have not lost a series in June, with strong starts from Dylan Covey and Rodon in this four-game set.
"We have been doing a better job during this month, and we have been working hard, and the results have been better for us this month," said White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, through interpreter Billy Russo, of the team's 8-6 June record. "We still need to keep working hard and grinding and doing the things that we know that we can do as a team to get more wins. That's the goal."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rodon faced a runners-on-first-and-second, nobody-out situation in the second and went 3-0 on Yonder Alonso before getting out of trouble. Alonso flied out deep to left, Erik Gonzalez lined out to right and Greg Allen struck out to keep the White Sox lead at 2-1.
The White Sox bullpen snapped its consecutive scoreless streak at 24 2/3 innings. It still has a 1.91 ERA in June, which ranks third in the Majors.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Abreu continues to climb the White Sox franchise leaderboard in just his fifth season with the team. His first-inning, two-run homer off of Mike Clevinger was the 135th of his career, moving him into a tie with Minnie Minoso for 12th all time. Abreu was tied with Hall of Famer Jim Thome at 134 entering Thursday's game. The home run also marked the 800th hit of Abreu's career.
"First and foremost I'm very happy, because I was able to hit that homer to the opposite field, especially in this ballpark," Abreu said. "I didn't remember the last time that I did it. I've been working to hit the ball throughout the whole field, and it was a good sign for me today to hit the ball to the opposite field with that homer."
HE SAID IT
"If you think any of us wanted a pitch right down the middle, no, that's not what was the intent. He had him with two strikes, and obviously we don't want to throw anything near the plate." -- Renteria, on the elevated sinker Ramirez hit for the go-ahead homer off of Volstad
Reynaldo Lopez (2-4, 3.26 ERA) will make his 14th start of the season and third against the Tigers when the White Sox open a three-game series on Friday at 7:10 pm CT at Guaranteed Rate Field. It will be his first start at home since May 20 vs. Texas. The White Sox are scoring an average of 3.26 runs behind Lopez, the eighth lowest in the Majors. He'll be tested against Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.01 ERA) of Detroit.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.