Sox searching for something special after 9-3 loss

Rodon alone isn’t it as tough stretch continues

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Carlos Rodon

Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon #55 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Seattle Mariners at Guaranteed Rate Field on June 25, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The dog days of the season may have come a little early for the White Sox. Headed into Friday, they had gone 4-6 over their last ten games — a stretch that included a five-game losing streak. 

Their tough times continued as the Sox dropped the series opener to the Mariners 9-3, but panic isn’t setting in.

“It’s not the first time we’ve been through something like that in this organization, not the first time I’ve been through something like that,” shortstop Tim Anderson said. “The biggest thing is you’ve got to keep pushing because games are going to keep coming. You’ve just got to be able to slow it down and be able to take it a day at a time. Keep pushing, push through it.”

Returning home to a full capacity crowd after a road trip through Houston, where they were swept in four games, and through Pittsburgh, where they split the two-game set, the Sox needed quality innings from starter Carlos Rodon.

Like the mini-funk his team is currently in, Rodon didn’t give his sharpest five innings.

Working around a second inning two-run homer to Luis Torrens and a third inning RBI single by Jake Bauers, Rodon gave the White Sox five innings of three-run ball Friday night. He struck out eight Mariners batters and walked four — two of those walks came in the fifth inning.

Rodon needed 104 pitches to get through five frames, and he did not suffer for lack of velocity. Rodon sat in the mid to upper-90s with his fourseam fastball throughout the night, and he especially muscled through the fifth. In that inning, Rodon registered his fastest pitches of the game, including two pitches to Bauers that flirted with 99 miles per hour; Rodon’s 98th and 99th of the night.

Some of Rodon’s struggles were simple bad luck: Kyle Seager and J.P. Crawford both had singles that combined for 92.9 miles per hour in exit velocity, a -4 degree launch angle, 69 feet traveled, and an expected batting average of .310. Lucky sometimes beats good.

“Every team has stretches where they struggle, whether it’s offensively, defensively, pitching,” Rodon said. “I think right now it seems like we’re struggling both ways. It’s that time of the year where we’ve just got to get out of this funk and move on from it.”

After Rodon, the pitching didn’t improve. Jose Ruiz took over in the sixth and gave up a single to Dylan Moore and a homerun to Jake Fraley, and in the seventh, Zack Burdi gave up Torrens’s second two-run homer of the day.

The Sox offense had no answer for Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi. Other than Yasmani Grandal’s second inning solo shot to left field, Kikuchi kept the Sox bats awfully quiet until the Mariners bullpen took over.

Among those who struggled on the offensive side Friday, 2020 American League MVP Jose Abreu went 0-for-3, including grounding into a fourth inning double play and flying out with two runners on and two outs in the sixth. Before Friday, he was batting just .217 with two home runs in the last month, and .111 with no extra-base hits over the last seven days.

“He’s so hard-nosed about playing with whatever is sore,” manager Tony La Russa said. “There’s hurt and sore, you know? It sure seems to me that he’s dealing with some pain issues that he wants to play through.”

As in any bad stretch a team goes through, sometimes all it takes to set things back on track is a timely hit or a well-pitched start.

“You’re always searching for that positive,” Anderson said. “You never know what it could start off of. It could start off of one barrel, all it takes is one hit to start a new thing. We’re searching for that guy to step up and be able to start something to get us going.”

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