|It’s “advantage hitters” facing the same team on consecutive starts, so give White Sox rookie Carlos Rodon credit.After holding the Mariners to one earned run over six innings in Seattle in his previous start, the lefthander came right back and held them to two runs over six-plus in the White Sox’ 4-2 win before 15,076 Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.Rodon (6-5, 4.15 ERA), who is learning all the angles of starting pitching only a year after getting drafted third overall out of North Carolina State, just got done conquering the same back-to-back challenge in starts against the Los Angeles Angels before his tandem outings against the Mariners. He threw seven scoreless innings at U.S. Cellular Field against the Angels before allowing two runs over 4 2/3 innings in Anaheim.Over those four side-by-side starts against the Angels and Mariners, Rodon covered 28 innings and allowed only 17 hits while pitching to a 1.61 ERA. He struck out 29 in that stretch while holding the Angels and M’s to a .177 average.“The impressive part is him pitching against these teams back to back,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s not easy to do, especially as a young kid, to be able to do that and mix it up enough with some dangerous guys in their lineup.’’|
“The second time around they know a slider is coming probably at whatever the count is, a pitch I rely on pretty heavily,’’ Rodon said. “Sometimes you’ve got to bust out some different stuff, but it’s tough back to back. I’ve never done that before.’’
Bearing some resemblance to former Sox lefty Britt Burns wearing the 1970s collared jersey throwback uniform, Rodon continued to cement his place as a future Sox top of the rotation piece. He threw six-plus innings, leaving after Franklin Gutierrez hit his 90th pitch into the right-center field seats for a two-run homer that cut the Sox lead to 4-2 with no outs in the seventh.
Rodon allowed three hits, walked three and struck out five. There were early and late spurts where his command deserted him, but over the second through sixth innings Rodon faced the minimum.
As he learns to cope with the rigors of pitching every fifth day, Rodon also continues to see progress with his third pitch, the changeup, to go with a mid-90s fastball and a premium slider.
“I think it’s coming along great,’’ Ventura said. “You see him throw it when guys are sitting on the slider or a fastball and they swing through it.
“It’s become a pitch of confidence for him, he’s able to throw it in a big league game and get guys to swing at it.’’
Rodon isn’t the only Sox rookie showing well. Red-hot right fielder Trayce Thompson, batting fifth against Mariners lefthander Roenis Elias, doubled twice and drove in a run in four at-bats. He’s batting .519.
Avisail Garcia drove in two runs with a single and sacrifice fly and Adam Eaton scored three runs, reaching base four times with three singles, including a bunt, and a hit-by-pitch.
Eaton likes what he sees from center field when Rodon pitches.
“Throwing that cutter-slider, whatever you call it, 90, 91 [mph], and getting the fastball up there,’’ Eaton said. “If he can locate his pitches — and that changeup, he struck somebody out in the middle innings – he’s a very good pitcher from the left side.’’
Zach Duke got three outs in the seventh, Nate Jones pitched a scoreless eighth and David Robertson recorded his 27th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
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