White Sox

White Sox offense backs Carlos Rodon in win over Twins

White Sox offense backs Carlos Rodon in win over Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- His rookie campaign might have ended early, but the White Sox have no such plans for Carlos Rodon this season.

Rodon matched a season-high with seven innings pitched on Friday night and the White Sox rallied back to beat the Minnesota Twins 11-4 in front of 20,806 at Target Field. Jose Abreu drove in three runs and Todd Frazier blasted his 35th home run in support of Rodon, who has won four straight decisions. With four or five starts left to make, Rodon could reach the 160-inning mark after pitching 139 1/3 last year.

“I think he’s going through the whole thing,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s getting better as he goes along and this is part of the growing of a guy who’s still young and getting through it. He understands how to go through a whole season. I think it’s important for him where he had a little time off. It has been a good run for him.”

The left-hander wasn’t quite as sharp against the Twins on Friday as he was when he posted a 1.47 ERA in five starts in August. Holding a 1-0 lead, Rodon gave up three straight hits to start the third inning, including a three-run homer by Brian Dozier.

“Dozier has been on me the whole year now,” Rodon said. “I just can’t get him.”

He also surrendered a one-run lead in the fifth after giving up consecutive singles to Byron Buxton and Dozier to open the frame. But Rodon would eventually settle down and retired the last seven batters he faced. He credited catcher Omar Narvaez once again for making a mid-game adjustment that helped him find a rhythm.

With only 79 pitches thrown, Ventura intended to keep Rodon going. But the White Sox offense prevented him from staying in the game with a long eighth inning.

The effort gives Rodon 136 innings this season, which is only 3 1/3 fewer than he had in 2015. Because he had also thrown 10 innings in the minors last season, the White Sox wanted to curb Rodon’s workload and he didn’t pitch in any of the team’s final eight games.

But that won’t be the case this season, Ventura said before the game.

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With Miguel Gonzalez returning on Tuesday, the White Sox intend to employ six starting pitchers for at least this turn. Were they to stay with a six-man rotation, Rodon would have at least four turns left. But the team could very easily manipulate the rotation and Rodon may be in line for five more starts. With him averaging nearly six innings per start, Rodon seems destined to surpass the 160 mark, which is fine by him.

“We are trying to build this year,” Rodon said. “Finish out. What do I have five starts left? Finish out strong and next year plan is to get up to 200 innings and let me go hopefully.”

He’d love to have this kind of support to go with those 200 innings.

Rodon -- who allowed four runs (three earned), walked one and struck out four -- entered Friday in the bottom quarter of the majors in average run support.

But for the second time in three starts, the White Sox offense delivered big production for Rodon as they matched a season high in runs and hits.

Trailing 3-1 in the fourth, Frazier blasted a game-tying shot to center off Twins starter Kyle Gibson. It was Frazier's 35th home run of the season and the 34th Frazier has hit while playing third base this season, which is a new franchise record. Bill Melton hit 33 in 1971. Manager Robin Ventura hit 34 in 1996, with 32 coming at third base. As Frazier rounded third, he stared into the dugout at Ventura and then walked over to shake his hands with Ventura nonchalantly acting as if he didn’t see the team’s current third baseman.

The White Sox took a 4-3 lead in the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Melky Cabrera, who finished with three hits and three RBIs. They regained a 5-4 lead in the sixth on a ground-rule double by Carlos Sanchez and scored three times in the eighth and ninth innings.

Abreu had a two-out, two-run single in the eighth to break it open. He has now reached base in 29 consecutive games and upped his RBI total to 79.

“Congratulations to Todd Frazier No. 35,” Rodon said. “Excited to see that one go.

“Yesterday we swung it well and today we were swinging it well. I knew I had to keep them at four and let my offense work and let the guys make plays out there and they did a great job.”

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

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USA TODAY

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson turned 24 on Saturday and celebrated the occasion with a bang.

Anderson smashed a three-run home run in the first inning against the A's. It was actually his first swing on his birthday. Anderson took the first two pitches before launching the 1-1 pitch over the right field fence.

That home run, Anderson's 13th of the year, gave the White Sox a 5-0 lead. Things took an ugly turn later in the game with Oakland winning 7-6. Dylan Covey left in the fifth with a hip injury, which manager Rick Renteria said will be evaluated tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury.

Anderson finished 2-for-4 on his birthday. He later added a single, a stolen base and a run in the sixth inning.

Anderon's power surge this year has him on pace to blow past his 17 homers from a year ago. He is four shy of last year's total and has done so in just under half as many plate appearances.

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.