Left-handers Aaron Bummer and Carlos Rodon rehabbed their biceps and shoulder, respectively, with this in mind: passing tests these last few games of the season for the purpose of making the postseason roster.
Manager Rick Renteria wasted no time testing Rodon, who, along with Bummer, was activated Thursday. The surprising part of that was the high — very high — leverage situation he thrust his 2019 Opening Day starter into.
And it blew up in the White Sox’ faces, resulting in a 5-4 loss and a four-game sweep by the Indians after Rodon entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning protecting a 4-1 lead.
Rodon allowed a two-run single by Cesar Hernandez, then a two-run double by Jose Ramirez, and just like that, the Sox — after losing the second and third games of the series on walk-off home runs — were scraping themselves off the Progressive Stadium floor.
It was Rodon’s first appearance since Aug. 3 and first relief appearance in five seasons. Bummer followed Rodon by pitching a scoreless eighth.
“We’re going to find out with two outs,” Renteria said of testing Rodon in that situation.
“He’s been a starter; this is a situation that will present itself in the postseason. Do I want to find out then or do I want to find out now? It was intended to be a short stint.”
Renteria’s decision to use Rodon ahead of Bummer, a proven commodity in those situations, subjected him to second-guessing. And then some.
“It was one out we were trying to get; it didn’t work,” Renteria said. “Everybody can put it on me.”
Rodon, who touched 96 mph, looked strong but wasn’t sharp with his location. He was charged with one run, and his ERA climbed to 10.50.
“The plan was to be ready for whenever, for whatever,” Rodon said. “Anybody on this pitching staff, mindset-wise, wants that situation, me included.”
With Codi Heuer and Matt Foster unavailable because of recent workloads and Evan Marshall on the injured list until this weekend, Renteria turned to right-hander Jimmy Cordero after Dallas Keuchel had pitched six innings of one-run ball. The Indians loaded the bases with three somewhat-soft singles.
“I’m the one who threw the pitch,” Rodon said. “I’m the one who gave up the hits. [Renteria] had nothing to do with throwing any of the pitches, so it’s not on him.”
Bummer, one of the top left-handed relievers in baseball last season, lowered his ERA to 1.08.
To make room on the roster, veterans Steve Cishek and Ross Detwiler were designated for assignment.
Left fielder Eloy Jimenez left the game with a sore foot after “hitting the bag a little different at third,” Renteria said, and sliding into home in the Sox’ three-run seventh. He will be re-evaluated Friday.
Rookie center fielder Luis Robert’s epic slump finally landed him on the bench.
“No matter how talented you are, you hit a wall,” Renteria said. “I know nobody wants to see the wall be hit, but you hit a wall.”
The American League Rookie of the Month for July/August is hitless in his last 28 at-bats and is 6-for-70 with one homer in September.
Closing with the Cubs
The regular season concludes with three home games against the Cubs, starting with right-hander Dylan Cease facing the franchise that traded him. Cease walked seven Reds in his last start.
The Sox won two of three Aug. 21-23 at Wrigley Field, hitting 12 home runs in the series.