David Robertson hadn’t done what he did Sunday since his high school days in Alabama.
The 30-year-old closer earned a win, notched a save and struck out five over two appearances that came about three and a half hours apart in a pair of White Sox wins over Kansas City at U.S. Cellular Field. He figured the last time he pitched two games in a day came while he was at Paul W. Bryant High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Robertson threw the ninth inning of Friday’s suspended game, which was concluded prior to the start of Sunday’s regularly-scheduled series finale. He struck out the side and earned the win when Avisail Garcia hit a two-out walk-off single, which netted the White Sox a 3-2 win.
Later in the afternoon, the right-hander jogged in from the bullpen to record his 50th career save — and he struck out two more Royals in nailing down the 5-3 win.
“(It) really shows his fight and his commitment to the team,” center fielder Adam Eaton said. “I don’t know the last time someone got a win and a save in the same day, I’m sure it’s been done before. But it shows a lot of grit and determination, especially when a guy is used to having one outing a day and he comes down and throws twice for you, gets hot twice for you and does extremely well in both instances. Hats off to him and we couldn’t have done it without this today.”
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Robertson brushed off his achievement as no big deal, saying it wasn’t all that different from throwing off flat ground or playing catch before a game and then entering it in relief later. But not only did Robertson pitch in both games, he pitched effectively, only allowing a pair of singles in his second outing.
That he was able to succeed in both games left an even stronger impression on his teammates.
“(That’s) typical Robertson,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “Came in, shut them down, gave us a chance in the bottom (in the first game) and on the save right there, he just missed a couple spots and ended up giving up the base hits. But other than that, he went right back to executing pitches.”
Robertson combined to throw 37 pitches between his two appearances, 28 of which were strikes. Ten of those strikes were swinging, as Royals hitters frequently flailed at his cutter/curveball combination that’s been so lethal this season.
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In eight innings with the White Sox, Robertson hasn’t allowed a run and has 17 strikeouts against one walk. That’s good for a -0.85 FIP, a statistic scaled to ERA that’s based on walks, strikeouts and home runs. It's a small sample size, of course, but it's easily the best FIP among major league relievers.
“I remember (Hall of Famer Tom Seaver) talking about getting two wins in one day,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s unusual the way the day went because normally you would have a straight doubleheader. Him starting off the day like he did and finishing off, it was nice. Good day when you get two wins in one day.”
The plan all along was for Robertson, who last pitched on Thursday, to enter the second game Sunday in a save opportunity. Because he was announced as entering Friday’s game just before it was suspended for rain, he had to pitch the ninth inning Sunday afternoon.
Ventura initially said he “wished it wouldn’t have happened that way,” but Robertson proved to be up to the double duty task.
“David has been doing this at a high level for a long time,” reliever Zach Duke said. “He knows himself and knows what it takes to get himself right. He was good today.”