White Sox

Carlos Rodon frustrated again after a weird, long day at Wrigley Field

Carlos Rodon frustrated again after a weird, long day at Wrigley Field

Carlos Rodon became the first pitcher in major league history to strike out 11 batters in a start that lasted only four innings in the White Sox 7-2 loss to the Cubs Tuesday at Wrigley Field. That’s the good part of the story of Rodon’s afternoon. 

The bad part of Rodon’s fifth start of the year: The Cubs put six balls in play, but only one went for an out. Willson Contreras launched a three-run home run in the first inning and Rodon issued three walks — including one to pitcher John Lackey — while allowing four runs. Rodon needed 98 pitches to get through four innings as he oscillated between being dominant and hittable. 

“As you see, the command is not there,” Rodon said. “Very inconsistent. Have to find the consistency again, find the strike zone, find the strike zone.”

Perhaps the promising — or maddening, depending on how you look at it — part of Rodon’s start was that he was unhittable at times. Even with a generous strike zone (that led to Kris Bryant’s first career ejection), Rodon’s 11 strikeouts tied a career high. 

“It feels good,” Rodon said. “It’s coming out good. The stuff is there. I’ve punched out 11 before, but you’d think, try to (get) 11 through seven.”

It wasn’t as if the Cubs necessarily sat back and made Rodon come to them, though. The Cubs took 12 of Rodon’s 22 first pitches (eight balls, four strikes), swung at nine (six foul balls, three whiffs) and bunted at one (which went foul). That the Cubs didn’t have a hit on any of those first pitches speaks to Rodon’s stuff, though they were still squaring him up later in at-bats. 

But that stuff hasn’t led to efficiency. Through five starts, Rodon is averaging 4.24 pitches per batter, a higher average than he had in 2016 (3.90) and 2015 (4.02) and higher than 2017’s league average (3.88). 

“… It could be mental,” Rodon said. “Who knows. It’s something we have to figure out.”

Rodon pointed to his final two innings as being encouraging — he threw 39 total pitches in them and didn’t allow a run — and said he felt like he was in a better rhythm in the second half of his start. But he recognizes he has to find that rhythm sooner.

“I would trade those 11 strikeouts in for six or seven innings just to not tax the bullpen to go out there and go that long,” Rodon said. 

One of the ancillary positives to Rodon’s frustration, though, was the line drive double he ripped off John Lackey in the second inning, which brought in the only two runs the White Sox scored on Tuesday. Rodon — who was an accomplished hitter in high school — gapped his double with an exit velocity of 104 miles per hour, just one mile per hour slower than the exit velocity of Willson Contreras’ first inning home run. 

“It’s nice, it gives us a couple of runs,” Rodon said. “Once again, my job is to pitch and not hit. It so happened I got a hit, but four innings is not going to cut it.”

Tim Anderson's eventful day at the yard ends with shot at Joe West: 'Everybody knows he's terrible'

Tim Anderson's eventful day at the yard ends with shot at Joe West: 'Everybody knows he's terrible'

Talk about an eventful night at the ol' ballpark for Tim Anderson.

It looked like it was going to be a day worth celebrating for Anderson, whose developmental progress reached a milestone during the third inning of Saturday's Crosstown matchup with the Cubs. He hit his 20th home run of the season, becoming the first White Sox shortstop ever to have a season with at least 20 homers and at least 20 stolen bases.

A heck of a feat, one that should stand out when White Sox fans and observers spend the offseason discussing whether or not Anderson truly is this franchise's shortstop of the future.

But the ump show came and overshadowed all that.

The Cubs were in the process of extending their lead in the ninth inning, putting things out of reach, when the White Sox attempted a double play on an Anthony Rizzo groundball. Anderson got the force out at second base and attempted the turn in the presence of a sliding Javy Baez. His throw went nowhere near first base, going down as an error that allowed another run to score.

After the play was over, Rick Renteria challenged, spurring a review to see if Baez violated the rules by reaching his arm out in an attempt to impede Anderson from making the play. The review determined Baez did not do that. Anderson disagreed, and a conversation with famed umpire Joe West followed.

"I asked him a question, and he kind of got pissed at me," Anderson said of his interaction with West. "I asked him if he saw him reach for my leg in the replay. He asked me if I was going to argue that, and I said, ‘No, I was just asking a question.’ And after that I didn’t say anything else. He started barking at me. Kept staring me down. I gave him, 'Why you keep looking at me?' Did that twice and threw me out."

Anderson was ejected, and he was visibly livid on the field, screaming at West in the immediate aftermath of the ejection. Renteria came out after Anderson started making his way toward the dugout, still yelling, and was ejected, as well.

Now, White Sox fans are no stranger to West, who famously — or infamously, if you're a White Sox supporter — called a couple of balks on Mark Buehrle and ejected both Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen in a 2010 game against the Cleveland Indians, sending announcer Hawk Harrelson into an on-air rant against West: "He's becoming a joke to the umpiring profession."

But the White Sox are far from the only team to have their run-ins with West. Anderson was obviously familiar with West's reputation, taking a shot after the game.

"I don’t have much to say about him. Everybody knows he’s terrible," Anderson said. "But I didn’t say much and he threw me out. It’s OK."

Additionally, Anderson was adamant that Baez did indeed move his hand in violation of the sliding rules at second base — and added the review officials in New York to his criticism list.

"Yeah, definitely. You could see it in the replay," Anderson said. "That’s just one of the many that they missed in New York, I guess."

And so an eventful night for Anderson.

His criticisms of the officials will undoubtedly overshadow his joining the 20-homer club and standing alone in the White Sox 20-20 club. But those are just further examples on Anderson's growth as a player this season.

Yes, the error he made on that play was his 19th of the season, putting him among the league leaders in that category after he led baseball with 28 fielding errors last season. But he now has career highs in home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, doubles and walks. And his fielding has been noticeably improved over the last month or so, a result of the work he's put in with Joe McEwing.

This weekend, Anderson generated headlines with an argument with an umpire. This winter, he'll be generating discussion by what he's done on the field. And the latter has been impressive.

"I’ve been able to take my game to another level," he said. "I just have to continue to grow and just keep learning and keep working hard."

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk Harrelson interview before his final White Sox broadcast

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk Harrelson interview before his final White Sox broadcast

Hawk Harrelson sat down with Chuck Garfien to talk about his emotions prior to calling his final White Sox game.

Why has he been such an unspoken announcer in his career?  Does he have anything prepared for his final inning?

How does he want to be remembered?  That and more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: