White Sox

Carlos Rodon earns season-high nine strikeouts as White Sox top Royals

Carlos Rodon earns season-high nine strikeouts as White Sox top Royals

Carlos Rodon continued his hottest stretch of the season.

Rodon recorded a season-high nine strikeouts as the White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 7-2 on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 20,653 fans.

Since the beginning of August, Rodon is 5-0 with a 1.86 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 40 strikeouts. He also won a career-high fifth straight decision.

The White Sox southpaw pitched six innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks, lowering his overall ERA to 3.80 on the year.

"He was great," said manager Robin Ventura. "Even innings there, where they started to get some guys on and it got a little dicey, he's just finding a way to reach and find something else, another level, and that's just part of growing and understanding yourself as his career goes on.

"This year, it's just been better. I think in his last six or seven, there's just been something else to him and more substance to it. So, he's learning a lot about himself in tougher situations and knowing he can get through it."

Rodon said he was feeling confident with his slider all night. He credited catcher Omar Narvaez – who he had developed chemistry with during Rodon's first year of pro ball – for helping him fan nine batters.

"Omar called a great game," Rodon said. "Just sticking with that slider and those guys are good hitters. They’re aggressive so just trying to use that against them. They pulled out some hits but the slider worked out well today."

Rodon’s night got off to a rocky start though with a 26-pitch first inning, allowing two runs on a single by Kendrys Morales.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

But the White Sox starter was lights out until the fifth inning, allowing only two hits – both by Alcides Escobar – and a walk over the next four innings.

In the sixth, Rodon found himself in a jam with the bases loaded and two outs. Ventura opted to keep Rodon in the game and it paid off. He earned his ninth strikeout on his 116th pitch of the night to escape the inning unscathed.

"It’s huge. Helps me build my confidence as well," Rodon said. "I’m glad he trusted me to get that last guy out. I always – no matter how many pitches there are – I always want to get that last out for the team."

Rodon is a quiet guy off the field, but in the diamond, he won't hide his emotions – especially after retiring the last batter in the sixth.

"It’s different in between the lines. That’s when you got to show up and be the mad dog and just go after guys," he said. "That’s what I expect out of every one of my teammates. Once we step in between those lines it’s everything we’ve got. I don’t care who’s out there."

The White Sox had a loud night on offense recording 13 hits. Six of the team’s seven runs came from RBI singles.

Melky Cabrera finished the game with two RBI on a sac fly in the first and a single in the fifth. RBI singles came from Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu in the third, Cabrera and Morneau in the fifth, and Tyler Saladino – which scored two – in the eighth.

Saladino is hitting .341 with two homers and 14 RBI in his last 21 games and has recorded a hit in seven of his last eight games against the Royals, batting .333/.371/.515.

"He can play," Ventura said. "He's continuing to understand what he's good at, and I think that's just part of being a winning player. He doesn't really, it's not numbers that he's really caring about. He just, he's always competitive and he always wants to win.

"So, he's into everything, understands that he doesn't need to hit a home run there, just put it in play. He just knows how to play the game."

Abreu is also batting .444/.490/.711 in his last 25 games at U.S. Cellular Field.

Chris Beck, Dan Jennings and Tommy Kahnle combined for three scoreless innings in relief.

The White Sox have won five of their last seven games and nine of their last 12 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Add another item to White Sox rebuilding to-do list: Matching Jose Berrios and dethroning the Twins

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USA TODAY

Add another item to White Sox rebuilding to-do list: Matching Jose Berrios and dethroning the Twins

Before the White Sox can worry about dethroning the Minnesota Twins — who despite the mathematically relevant presence of the Cleveland Indians appear to be steaming toward an AL Central title — they’ll have to cross plenty of other items off their rebuilding to-do list.

Rick Hahn’s front office needs to go to work this offseason, adding starting pitching and a left-handed bat of some consequence. Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal need to be promoted to the major leagues. Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease need to go from learning-on-the-job rookies to the impact players their prospect rankings said they could be.

But if the White Sox roster, perhaps as soon as next season, blossoms into one capable of contending for a division title, there’s still the matter of besting the team currently at the hop of the heap.

The White Sox lost for the 12th time in 17 games against the division-rival Twins on Monday night, with a familiar face doing a familiar thing. Jose Berrios entered the night with a 2.40 career ERA against the White Sox, and that number got smaller with his 7.1 innings of two-run ball.

Things looked like they might have gone differently, with the White Sox scratching across a run in the first inning and James McCann hitting a home run to start the second. But that’s when Berrios reverted to All-Star form, and the White Sox offense did just about nothing the rest of the way. (It didn’t help, of course, that the White Sox made some shoddy plays in the field and ran into some outs on the bases, more things that need fixing on the way to contender status.)

Berrios, with his ERA down to 3.58 after Monday’s effort, is on pace to finish with a career best in that category. He hasn’t necessarily been the kind of pitcher that Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have been this season for the Houston Astros, but he’s a bona fide ace of an October-bound staff. And it’s those types of big-time players the White Sox will have to match and beat if they want to climb to the top of the baseball mountain.

It doesn’t look impossible, considering the White Sox already have an All-Star pitcher and an ace of their staff in Lucas Giolito, who was scheduled to pitch Tuesday in the Land of 10,000 Lakes before he was shut down for the rest of the year with a mild lat strain.

But cast your mind back to the last time he threw at Target Field, when he showed how dominant he can be, even against an offense as potent as Minnesota’s. Giolito twirled a complete-game, three-hit, 12-strikeout shutout in that game and welcomed the Twins to the South Side with six innings of two-run ball in the following start.

As the Verlander-Cole Astros are showing, though, it takes more than one ace to make a run at a World Series. The Twins are going to try — and that’s no knock on their pitching staff, just pointing out that they win games and, eventually, a division title by out-slugging their opponents. White Sox fans know it well, having seen Nelson Cruz hit enough feet of home runs at Guaranteed Rate Field this season to get all the way back to Minneapolis.

And so while Giolito might be able to counter a pitcher like Berrios, the White Sox will need an offense that’s able to beat him and his homer-happy teammates. Reynaldo Lopez wasn’t awful Monday night, but five runs against him was plenty to get the Twins past the silenced White Sox.

That’s where Jimenez and Robert and Madrigal and McCann and Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu are supposed to come in. Only McCann could muster an RBI hit against Berrios on Monday. Jimenez added his 28th homer of the season off Twins closer Sergio Romo in the ninth inning.

That’s a group of hitters that, while very promising, is still developing. White Sox brass keeps telling us that as good as Moncada and Anderson have been during their breakout seasons, they will keep getting better. Jimenez is on his way to 30 homers as a rookie but has generally had an up-and-down season offensively. Robert and Madrigal have yet to taste the major leagues. There’s room for all of them to get better, to form the core of a lineup that could have even pitchers like Berrios sweating, that could go toe-to-toe with a powerful lineup like the Twins’.

But that all has to fall into place. Until it does, unseating the Twins will remain on the to-do list, behind a few more pressing matters. Until it does, Berrios will keep pitching lights out and the Twins will keep hitting balls out. Those are the kinds of things division champs do.

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Lucas Giolito's remarkable 2019 season over as MRI reveals mild lat strain

Lucas Giolito's remarkable 2019 season over as MRI reveals mild lat strain

The best story of the White Sox season is coming to an early end.

According to reporters covering the team in Minnesota, Lucas Giolito is done for the year after an MRI revealed a mild lat strain.

As those reporters noted, the injury normally wouldn't be considered your typical "season ender," say if it occurred in the middle of the summer, but with only a couple weeks remaining in the 2019 campaign, this is it for Giolito.

What a remarkable season it was for the young right-hander, who went from the pitcher with the worst statistics in baseball last season to an All-Star, the ace of the South Side starting staff and a guy who could receive Cy Young votes.

Giolito was scheduled to face off against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. Instead, he'll finish the season with a 3.41 ERA, 228 strikeouts and two complete-game shutouts against the Twins and Houston Astros, two of the best teams in the American League. He finishes with the seventh-highest single-season strikeout total in team history and the newly earned club record for the most consecutive strikeouts after he fanned eight straight Kansas City Royals in his most recent start.

While the White Sox have made it known that they'll be shopping for starting pitching this winter, they will head into the offseason with one top-of-the-rotation starter already in the fold in Giolito. His transformation, along with those of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson, provides a good chunk of the optimism that the 2020 campaign could be the one in which the White Sox make the transition from rebuilding to contending.

It's a bummer that White Sox fans will miss out on a couple more Giolito starts — especially against the Twins, who he shutout last time he faced them in Minnesota — but it's been a season worth celebrating for the 25-year-old and a season that should provide a ton of excitement for the future.

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