Tyler Saladino’s major league career is off to a nice start.
But even the rookie’s hot bat couldn’t help the White Sox dig out of a massive hole Tuesday night as they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-5, in front of 29,728 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Saladino went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, but Carlos Rodon allowed seven earned runs, including a Matt Holliday grand slam as the White Sox lost for the fifth time in six games. Despite a .355/.355/.613 start to his career, Saladino was more concerned with a play he didn’t make on Stephen Piscotty’s hard shot ahead of Holliday’s grand slam.
“If I come up with that ball it could be a different inning,” Saladino said. “I’m not going to sleep well because of that. It’s over and done with so you have to move on from it, but at the same time, that home run means nothing to me because we didn’t win. I didn’t make the play, and if I come up with it you don’t know how that outcome will be.”
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St. Louis already led 3-0 when Holliday stepped in to face Rodon with one out in the third inning and the bases loaded. Rodon had walked Mark Reynolds, allowed the infield single to Piscotty and hit Kolten Wong before he got Randal Grichuk to pop out. But Holliday ripped a first-pitch slider 430 feet to left field to give the Cardinals a seven-run lead.
Rodon (3-3) — who had retired the side in order in the first on 10 pitches — allowed seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts in four innings in his first start since he pitched six scoreless innings against the Cubs on July 10.
“I felt comfortable coming out of the warm up and started off the game pretty good, and it just didn’t work out,” Rodon said. “The stuff is there, you’ve got to throw it over the plate and let your fielders make plays for you.
“Just try to forget about this one and on the next to one.”
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St. Louis took an 8-2 lead in the fifth inning when Reynolds homered off White Sox reliever Daniel Webb, who pitched three innings.
The White Sox offense finally woke up in the fourth inning after Michael Wacha retired the first nine batters he had faced. Adam Eaton drew the first of his three walks, and Saladino produced his team’s first hit, a single. Jose Abreu singled in a run, and Melky Cabrera had a sac fly to cut the deficit to 7-2.
Geovany Soto blasted a solo homer in the fifth inning off Wacha, and Saladino followed a two-out walk of Eaton with a two-run homer to left, hissecond.
Eaton and Saladino — who continues to play a nice third base — almost triggered another rally in the seventh as the leadoff man drew a one-out walk and Saladino reached on a fielder’s choice with two Cardinals errors putting men on second and third. But Abreu hit a comebacker, and Cabrera struck out.
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“Adam was very patient tonight, being able to take the walk and get on there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Sal, he continues to grind out at-bats and get on even there in the last inning just to be able to beat something out. But we need to get some guys on and knock them in, too. We did enough to get going, but we didn’t have enough to get over the top.”
Saladino’s two-out infield single in the ninth inning off Trevor Rosenthal extended the game and brought Abreu to the plate as the tying run. But Abreu grounded out to end it.
Though it has only lasted eight games and 33 plate appearances, the White Sox like what Saladino has brought to them so far. Whether its his speed, his approach or glove, Saladino has impressed his coaching staff and teammates.
“He does bring something to it,” Ventura said. “I just think he has knowledge of what he’s doing. He adjusts. You can see him take a ball to right field and the next at-bat he’ll hit a homer. Just a nice feel for the game and adjustments. He’s been able to do that while he’s been up here.”