KANSAS CITY, Mo. — He has already bounced back from serious adversity once this season. Now Carlos Rodon will look to rebound from a pair of rough starts late in the year.
The White Sox starter yielded three home runs in four-plus innings on Monday afternoon as the Kansas City Royals handed an 8-3 loss to the White Sox in front of 31,502 at Kauffman Stadium. Rodon, who recently won five straight decisions, lost for a second straight start after he allowed six earned runs in a 96-pitch effort. The White Sox, who won Friday’s contest in dramatic fashion, lost their third straight to the Royals and 14th in 19 meetings this season.
Jose Abreu and Carlos Sanchez both homered in the losing effort.
“I’m going to be fresh in these last two starts, just try to finish strong and move on,” Rodon said. “These things happen. I just have to keep on having fun. Sometimes I forget this is a kid’s game and you just have to enjoy it. Sometimes the pressure gets to you, and you take it as a job. It’s not a job, although it is. Kids play this game all over the world. We all started as kids, and we just have to remember this is a kid’s game and have fun with it.”
There were no indications Rodon was in for a difficult day when he retired the side in order in the first inning on only 11 pitches.
He found trouble in the second inning and faced a stressful situation in each frame the rest of the way. He fell behind 2-1 in the second inning when he yielded solo homers to Paulo Orlando and Alcides Escobar on fastballs and had to work around a two-out double to Christian Colon. Rodon managed to strand a runner in scoring position in both the third and fourth innings.
But the stress seemed to catch up to Rodon in the fifth inning, and things got ugly in a hurry. Rodon’s throwing error on Billy Burns’ infield single put him in scoring position. Whit Merrifield then singled to put runners on the corners and stole second base. Eric Hosmer broke a 2-all tie with an RBI single, and Kendrys Morales knocked Rodon from the game with a three-run homer, a 436-foot shot to left center.
Rodon allowed eight hits in four-plus innings and has seen his ERA increase from 3.80 to 4.29 in his last two starts.
[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]
It’s not the first time Rodon has found himself in a difficult spot this season. He was outwardly frustrated as he headed into the All-Star break injured and with a 2-7 record despite having pitched well enough to win in 10 of his first 16 starts.
But Rodon vowed to treat the second half as if he was starting from zero and expected to rebound. Until his last start, Rodon has done just that. From Aug. 6 to Sept. 9, Rodon went 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA in 43 2/3 innings, which brought his record within a game of .500.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura thinks that Rodon’s turnaround can be extremely valuable from a mental standpoint.
“You’re looking at a kid who went through a rough patch, and he’s been able to see his way out of it, see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Ventura said. “You can get buried in this game and not be able to mentally get your way out of it to where you have the confidence to go out there and commit to a pitch and locate it and be able to get people out. He has been able to do that. He’s turned a new leaf to where the belief is there. He’s showing it in his actions. Just the stuff he’s doing during games. I think that’s the important part for him taking it this far is you’re seeing it.”
The White Sox offense put up a decent fight early on but couldn’t keep pace with the Royals.
They pulled ahead 1-0 in the second inning when Todd Frazier singled in Justin Morneau, who doubled in his first at-bat in six games.
Two innings later, Abreu crushed a 3-1 fastball from Yordano Ventura for a game-tying homer to center that went over the third wall just below the massive scoreboard. But Ventura shut the White Sox down from there. Aside from the 431-foot solo homer by Sanchez in the seventh, the White Sox managed little else against Ventura, who went the distance.
“That (earlier) stretch was good,” Rodon said. “These past two games weren’t my finest. I wish I would have been better for this team, and that’s on me.”