CLEVELAND — David Robertson stepped off the pitching rubber, fired a strike to first base and exhaled.
The White Sox closer added another dicey — but ultimately successful — chapter to what has been a trying week on Saturday night. After he allowed seven runs in his previous two outings, Robertson served up a two-run homer and put the tying run on base before he converted his 30th save on a game-ending pickoff of Abraham Almonte. Robertson’s save closed out a 4-3 White Sox victory over the Cleveland Indians.
“Big sigh of relief,” Robertson said. “It was really nice, especially because it ended a game and helped me get out of that struggle I was in.”
Robertson’s pickoff was his first since 2009 and only the second of his career. It couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as the Progressive Field crowd regained its voice after Chris Johnson homered to deep center and Almonte singled. Robertson retired Jerry Sands on a fly ball before he picked off Almonte with All-Star Jason Kipnis at the plate with both Zach Duke and Nate Jones warming up in the White Sox bullpen.
“It did make it interesting,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “But he had three runs to play with. He caught one in the middle of the plate and Johnson got him, but there’s other ways to get outs so he found a creative way to get outs.”
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Robertson blew a save, his seventh, on Thursday when he allowed a three-run homer to Billy Butler in the ninth inning of a 4-2 loss to the Oakland A’s. The outing came after Monday’s game when he yielded four runs (two earned) in allowing the A’s to tie the contest, though the White Sox won 8-7 in 14 innings.
Robertson said catcher Rob Brantly called for the pickoff and he was able to execute much to the Indians’ dismay.
“I came set real quick, popped it over to first, made a great throw and he was kind of caught flat-footed and got him out,” Robertson said.