ANAHEIM, Calif. — Two pitches made all the difference on Monday and Tyler Flowers said they had nothing to do with the home runs off Carlos Rodon.
Flowers was critical of a pair of called strikes during a sixth inning at-bat with the bases loaded in a game the White Sox eventually lost to the Los Angeles Angels, 2-1, at Angel Stadium.
Flowers struck out to leave ‘em loaded and two batters later C.J. Cron homered off Rodon to put the Angels ahead for good. In what was perhaps his best start to date, Rodon lost despite a complete-game effort in which he allowed two runs and four hits.
“That at-bat was taken away from me,” Flowers said. “I had two balls called strikes on me, the last one included, in what turns out to be the biggest situation in the game.
“I don’t like blaming it on umpires, but that one was taken away from me. I didn’t really have a chance.”
Flowers hoped for redemption after he struck with runners on the corners to end the second inning. The catcher quickly got ahead of Angels starter Andrew Heaney as he took the first two pitches for balls. Flowers didn’t like that plate ump Ed Hickox called Heaney’s third offering a strike but figured that would be the one he was given. Flowers fouled back a 3-2 changeup and began to head for first after he took a borderline 92-mph sinker inside for what he believed was a bases-loaded walk. But before Flowers got far, Hickox rung him up for the final out.
“You want to get it done and it didn’t get done,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
The White Sox were limited to two chances against Heaney and came up empty in both. Avisail Garcia doubled to start the second inning and Trayce Thompson walked to put two aboard. Alexei Ramirez popped out to the pitcher and Tyler Saladino flew out to right field with Garcia tagging up for third. But Flowers struck out to strand runners on the corners.
The White Sox only run came via a Johnny Giavotella error as Heaney and three relievers combined on a six-hitter.
Flowers was entirely focused on his sixth-inning at-bat.
“Especially when you are somewhat struggling,” Flowers said. “You are really trying to grind it out. That situation was the biggest in the game for us. To battle and feel like you do everything right and then it’s taken away from you, yeah that kind of sucks. That’s my spot right there to contribute after not coming through the first time. That’s my spot and I felt like I did the job. Didn’t get the call.”
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Rodon had to feel the same way as he dominated Los Angeles again.
Not only did he fill up the strike zone, use his changeup and get ahead in the count, Rodon made quick work of the Angels. He induced a number of ugly swings and weak contact in the 104-pitch effort.
Rodon only made a pair of mistakes and the Angels took advantage.
Albert Pujols worked a full count in the second inning before he broke a scoreless tie with a long drive to left center, his 32nd homer, to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. Cron broke a 1-all tie in the seventh when he crushed a changeup out to right.
Rodon walked three and struck out five over eight innings.
“This one seemed like command-wise he was just grabbing it and getting going,” Ventura said. “We had opportunities today, we had guys getting on, we just couldn’t do anything with it. We needed one to fall in there and get something going and Carlos was great. Carlos, this is probably his best stuff. He had the two homers but other than that, command and how he reacted to (the first homer) and responded was great.”