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.
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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.