CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodón was not going to pitch perfect baseball throughout the entire 2021 season. It only seemed that way based on his first five stellar starts, all of which he won.
But even in a 5-1 loss to the Royals Saturday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, there was great value in Rodón’s performance. The left-hander needed 28 pitches to get through the first inning, but limited the Royals to one run during the frame.
Rodón threw 110 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, limiting manager Tony La Russa’s bullpen usage to three relievers. He gave the White Sox (23-15) a chance to win, striking out five and walking three.
“It was something we needed,” said Rodón of his third start this season of 110 pitches or more. “I know the bullpen has been used a little bit lately. We’re about to go on a stretch here where there’s not too many off-days, so I was happy to take the ball and go as long as I could.”
“He showed a lot of moxie,” said La Russa of Rodón. “Got us into the sixth inning. If he gives in, he gives up there, the game could get really ugly, we use a lot of arms. Just one of those starts where early on, I give him a lot of credit for limiting the damage and giving us the chance to win, so I was really impressed."
Kansas City (18-21) took control in the third behind Salvador Perez’s three-run home run to right. As La Russa pointed out, it was the same basic fastball up and slightly out of the zone that Perez hit for a three-run shot off Lucas Giolito in a Game 1 loss Friday during doubleheader action.
That Perez blast ultimately produced Rodón’s first loss as a starter since July 28, 2020 at Cleveland. He also allowed multiple runs in an inning for the first time this season, which makes sense given that Rodón had yielded two earned runs on 12 hits in total over his first 31 innings pitched.
As the game progressed, Rodón found a mound rhythm and needed only 21 pitches to get through the fourth and fifth. But Perez already had done the damage.
“He’s a good hitter, a good bad-ball hitter. He got it, it went out, that’s it,” said Rodón of the second homer he has given up this season. “It started to come back, I started to feel it in the last three innings. I just wish it would’ve shown up earlier on.”
The White Sox will try to avoid their first series loss since dropping an April 30-May 2 series at home against Cleveland. They dropped to 22-2 in games featuring opposing left-handed starters since the start of 2020, with both of those losses coming against Mike Minor.
Minor earned the victory by allowing one run on two hits over seven innings while striking out seven. One of those hits came from José Abreu, whose home run in the fourth tied him for the American League RBI lead with Boston’s J.D. Martinez at 33.
Abreu returned to the lineup for the 998th game of his career, despite leaving in the second inning during the first game of Friday’s doubleheader after having a violent collision with Hunter Dozier on Dozier’s pop up near home plate. The first baseman and team leader provided the team his “Pito Push” or extra inspiration, as La Russa said pregame while invoking Abreu’s nickname, simply by his toughness.
“You don’t want to say anything hurts when you see a guy just get absolutely pummeled and then come out the next day and say, ‘I’m good,’” said Rodón of Abreu. “There’s definitely no room for excuses when you see that. I would say it motivates each and every one of us in this clubhouse when our leader steps up and says, ‘Nope, I’m going to play.’”
“Sometimes when you try to explain to people just how special he is, you've got to give examples, and tonight was a perfect example,” La Russa said. “The fight to come back and get in the lineup and get the two hits, that shows you this guy is rare, man. He's one of the better ones. As good as anyone you're going to find."