The White Sox offense was coming off two of its more productive nights of the season.
Carlos Rodon had been darn near unhittable for more than a month.
The Cleveland Indians figured out a way to solve both issues on Wednesday night. Josh Tomlin and the Indians bullpen combined on a six-hitter and Cleveland had several timely hits to send the White Sox to a 6-1 loss in front 15,808 at U.S. Cellular Field. Rodon allowed six earned runs as a personal five-game winning streak came to an end.
“Losing is never great,” Rodon said. “This one is going to stick with me for a while until I face them again. I’m looking forward to that chance for sure. But live to fight another day, right? Move on. Short memory in this game. That’s the plan. I get home and just relax. It happens.”
Having not lost before Wednesday since July 31, Rodon clearly is in a better space than he was as he headed into the All-Star break. He has rediscovered the form that made him the No. 3 overall pick of the 2014 amateur draft, overpowering hitters and pitching out of the few tight spots in which he found himself.
Rodon managed to do the same at times on Wednesday as he stranded runners in scoring position in the first and third innings. His third-inning jam began with a double and a walk and yet Rodon — who had a 1.85 ERA in 43 2/3 innings from Aug. 6-Sept. 9 — escaped it without a scratch.
But he wasn’t as lucky in the fourth and sixth innings.
Rodon, who walked 10 of 178 batters in his previous seven starts (5.6 percent walk rate), issued a pair of one-out walks in the fourth. Jose Ramirez made him pay for the bout of wildness when he tripled in two to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead. Brandon Guyer then singled in Ramirez to put the Indians ahead by two runs.
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Rodon also wiggled out of a first-and-third, no-out jam in the fifth inning against Cleveland’s 3-4-5 hitters.
But the workload caught up with him in the sixth inning. Ramirez and Guyer singled and Rodon’s first-pitch changeup to Coco Crisp caught too much of the plate and he ripped it for a three-run homer.
Rodon allowed more earned runs (six) than he had in five August starts.
“When he first started out, it was coming out of his hand great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You didn’t really expect the inning where he walks two guys and gets himself in trouble. But that stuff is going to happen on occasion, and you want to limit that and not give them any free chances, especially because the last couple of days they haven’t scored a ton of runs. You’re giving them opportunities, and they’ve been a team that has really seized on that. He left the door open for them to do some damage. They can get it quick, and they did tonight.”
The White Sox offense didn’t fare much better against Tomlin.
Adam Eaton tripled in a run in the third inning to put the White Sox ahead 1-0. But that was all they would manage against Tomlin, who allowed a run and four hits in five innings. Tomlin struck out Tim Anderson and retired Melky Cabrera on a fly out to strand Eaton and the White Sox never threatened again.