Carlos Rodon seemed to be in trouble as he faced the go-ahead run at the plate.
The Royals loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth inning, and Rodon’s pitch count climbed into the triple digits. Paulo Orlando fouled off four consecutive pitches before the White Sox southpaw finally fanned Orlando on his 116th and final pitch.
The Sox pulled away for a 7-2 win that marked their fifth victory in the past seven contests.
Rodon credited Robin Ventura for having the confidence to stick with him in the game’s biggest moment.
“That’s huge,” said Rodon, who struck out nine batters for a season high. “It helps me build my confidence, as well. I’m glad he trusts in me to get that last guy out. No matter how many pitches there are, I always want to get that last out for the team.”
Rodon (7-8) won his fifth straight decision, which is the best streak of his career. He notched his seventh quality start in a row as he limited the Royals to two runs (one earned) on six hits in six innings.
During his run of seven quality starts, Rodon is 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA.
“He has the stuff to stay in the big leagues a long time,” Ventura said. “He has the stuff he’s going to hold on to, and that’s what’s going to make him good for a while.”
Eight of nine batters in the Sox’ lineup finished with at least one hit. The only starter without a hit was catcher Omar Narvaez.
To have and to hold
Nate Jones is second in Sox history with 27 holds this season.
The franchise record – 30 holds by Barry Jones in 1990 – is well within reach with 22 games remaining. But the Sox’ present Jones is not preoccupied with surpassing the past Jones.
“It doesn’t change my job any,” Jones said. “I still want to go out there and throw strikes and put up zeroes and get the ball to ‘D-Rob.’ That’s what my main focus is.”
Jones has achieved his goal more times than not. He is 5-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 66 relief appearances, which leads the Sox. He has walked 14 and struck out 77 in 65 2/3 innings.
As for his favorite thing to hold, it’s not games.
“My kids, for sure,” said Jones, proud father of a 3 ½-year-old girl, Lilly, and a 17-month-old boy, Archer.
Tyler Saladino went 3-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and two RBI to continue his hot hitting.
In his past 21 games, Saladino is hitting .329 (27-for-82). He has boosted his season totals to .274 with eight home runs, 37 RBIs and 11 stolen bases while starting at second base, shortstop and third base.
“I think his biggest thing becomes his versatility,” Ventura said. “He’s a big league player.
“He does smart things when he’s on the field. He makes stuff happen.”