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In his last two starts, Carlos Rodon was masterful, only allowing one run on three hits with 23 strikeouts to zero walks. Yet, the White Sox lost both games because the offense failed to generate a single run of support.
On a day that Rodon didn’t have his best stuff is when the offense backed him up. Zack Collins and Adam Eaton had clutch hits as the White Sox won Game 1 of the doubleheader in extras, 8-6.
Cesar Hernandez gave Rodon a tough time early. On the very first pitch, Hernandez took Rodon deep for his seventh home run of 2021. Then Amed Rosario, on a 1-1 pitch, hit his third homer of the season, and quickly the White sox were down 2-0.
That Cleveland lead didn’t last long. In the top half of the second inning, the White Sox put up four runs thanks to Zack Collins. Yermin Mercedes walked and advanced to third base off of Adam Eaton’s double to right field. Garcia loaded the bases with an infield single. Ahead 2-0 in the count, Collins pulled a fastball down the right-field line just inside first base. Mercedes and Eaton easily scored, and then Hernandez fumbled the relay throw allowing Garcia to cross home plate.
Up 3-2, Collins advanced to third base on Nick Madrigal’s ground out and would score thanks to Tim Anderson. After walking against Triston McKenzie, Anderson got caught off guard on a pick-off attempt. Trying to make the best of a bad situation, Anderson generated enough attention from Cleveland’s infielders, getting himself in a rundown. Collins dashed home plate, and Anderson bought just enough time for his teammate to score before tagging out.
Despite having a 4-2 lead, Rodon couldn’t hold it. Hernandez hit his second home run in the third inning, his first career multi-home run game. In the fourth inning, Yu Chang hit a two-out double to plate Josh Naylor tying the game at 4-4. During this stretch, the White Sox hitters went into strikeout mode as McKenzie, at one point, punched out eight straight batters. That strikeout streak sets a new franchise record for Cleveland, once held by Corey Kluber, who had seven consecutive strikeouts in a game.
Yoan Moncada had other ideas leading off the sixth inning by snapping the strikeout streak with a single to right field. Manager Terry Francona pulled McKenzie, who recovered nicely after allowing the crooked number in the second inning. Bryan Shaw came in relief and threw a wild pitch which Moncada made a good jump on to reach second base. After another wild pitch and walking Jose Abreu, Shaw was in a jam with runners on the corners.
Next was Yermin Mercedes. After fouling off very hittable cutters in the strike zone, Mercedes was in his defensive mode on a full count. Manager Tony La Russa elected to have Abreu run on the pitch. Mercedes got jammed on an inside corner and only mustered a slow grounder to Hernandez at second base. A scoop and toss in attempting a double play, the lob from Hernandez hit Abreu in the back as he slid into second base. Without putting the runner in motion, Mercedes would probably have hit into an inning-ending double play. Instead, Moncada scored the go-ahead run, and the White Sox were still in business with runners on first and second.
Leury Garcia walked to load the bases setting the stage once again for Collins. Instead of another extra-base hit to add more cushion for Rodon, Collins struck out on a foul tip ending the threat.
Even though McKenzie left the game in line for the loss, it ended up being a no-decision, thanks to Bradley Zimmer. With a low pitch count, La Russa opted to have Rodon continue through the sixth inning. Naylor once again singled off Rodon, but Cleveland looked at two outs thanks to strikeouts against Chang and Owen Miller.
Francona put Naylor into motion on a 1-1 pitch to Rene Rivera, who pulled a single to left field. Naylor reached third base, and it was runners on the corners for Cleveland. Next was Zimmer, who hit a soft grounder to Anderson at short. Charging in on the grounder, Anderson didn’t get a good grip on the ball in time to throw out the speedy Zimmer. Naylor scored from third base, and once again, the White Sox lead was erased.
Facing Hernandez for the fourth time, Rodon didn’t pull any punches throwing a 99-mph fastball by for the inning-ending strikeout. The final line for Rodon was 6 IP 9 H 5 ER 1 BB 8 K, which for his 2021 standards was not great.
Neither team scored in the seventh inning as Codi Heuer had Abreu pull off a nifty double play. Rosario started the inning with a single, and next was Jose Ramirez. Well-known for his dramatic hits against the White Sox in high leverage situations, all Ramirez could muster was a grounder hit towards Abreu. The White Sox first baseman touched first base and made a solid throw to Anderson, who tagged out Rosario. Heuer struck Harold Ramirez out, sending the game into extras.
Billy Hamilton punched out to end the seventh for the White Sox and was the runner on second base to start extras. After Moncada struck out against Karinchak, Hamilton proceeded to take very aggressive leads off second base. Despite numerous looks back to the bag, Karinchak never came off the mound or made a pick-off attempt. Hamilton eventually figured out Karinchak’s timing and swiped third base.
Stealing third base ended up being a smart play. Leading the league in RBIs, Abreu once again found a way to put the ball in play, hitting a sacrifice fly. Now the Sox were ahead 6-5, and Karinchak’s command slipped. After walking Mercedes on five pitches, Karinchak attempted to get a 95-mph heater by Eaton. Instead, Eaton hit a laser of a line drive that carried out for a two-run homer.
Ahead 8-5, La Russa picked Aaron Bummer for the save attempt and once again had trouble with his command. Instead of a complete meltdown, Bummer was able to recover. Naylor grounded into a 5-4-3 double play that Cleveland scored a run to make it 8-6, but it also cleared the bases. Bummer picked up his first save of the season by throwing three straight sliders to Chang, who struck out swinging.
- Adam Eaton went 2-for-4 with a double and home run.
- Jose Abreu was 0-for-2 with a sac fly and walk.
- Leury Garcia had a multi-hit day going 2-for-3.
- It’s the White Sox first extra-innings win of 2021.