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The White Sox ran their record against left-handed pitching to 16-0 since the start of the 2020 season, thanks in part to the effort of their own lefty on the mound.
Carlos Rodón pitched five encouraging innings, with Michael Kopech and José Ruiz backing him up to combine for the first shutout of the season. An inelegant yet persistent effort from the offense provided a welcome West Coast cruiser after a bruising series in Anaheim.
Rodón struck out nine over his five shutout innings, pitching around two hits, three walks and two HBPs. He needed 95 pitches because he found himself in a couple of jams, partially due to lackluster slider command, and partially due to defense.
First inning: Nick Madrigal’s inability to catch Mitch Haniger’s tricky pop-up — and his greater inability to recover in time for a throw to second — meant that Rodón had to throw 12 extra pitches to end the inning.
Third inning: Rodón gave up a leadoff single to J.P. Crawford, then fired wildly on a pickoff throw that gave Crawford two bases. Yet Crawford didn’t score, as Rodón rallied with two strikeouts sandwiching a shallow flyout.
Fourth inning: Rodón loaded the bases on three consecutive one-out walks, but induced a weak grounder for a force at home, then struck out Crawford.
Rodón’s hit two batters with sliders and nearly beaned another, but he was a bully with his fastball, getting nine of his 19 whiffs on that pitch. When the Mariners made contact, it wasn’t firm, maxing out with a 98.6 mph exit velocity flagged down by Andrew Vaughn on the warning track in his toughest test to date.
The White Sox offense had plenty of lasers in stock, producing the 10 hardest-hit balls on the evening, including four of the top five by White Sox catchers. Yasmani Grandal hit a resounding solo shot in the second off Justus Sheffield and added a blistered two-run single in the fifth, both at 107 mph, while Yermín Mercedes rifled a short-hop double off the left-field wall at 112.2 mph and came up with another single at 103.6 mph.
Because Mercedes is charmed, he also contributed a third hit — an infield single at 48.8 mph. Even Leury García’s bases-loading bunt single beat it by five ticks.
Iffy Seattle defense also helped. The White Sox were able to crack this game open in the fourth inning because Kyle Seager booted what should’ve been an easy double-play ball off the bat of Grandal with Mercedes on first. García followed with his bunt off the plate to give the Sox their first hit with runners in scoring position since days ago, and Vaughn drove in his first career run with an HBP to make it a 2-0 game.
Billy Hamilton then shot a single to center for another run and a 3-0 lead, and a Madrigal double-play ball scored another run. The Sox didn’t need Grandal’s two-run single in the fifth, but he was happy to provide it anyway for the final score.
*Kopech outdid himself in his second appearance, striking out five Mariners over two innings, yielding just a double and a walk. Ruiz also did his by throwing 17 of 22 pitches for strikes with a six-run lead, and carried it the rest of the way.
*Yoán Moncada struck out three more times, but he also singled twice to show signs of breaking out.
*Vaughn is now 0-for-9 with five strikeouts while Mercedes is 12-for-18, for those handicapping the Rookie of the Year race.