The White Sox wasted no time getting Carlos Rodon up to speed on what he missed.
He walked Andrew Benintendi to start his afternoon, partially because Kevan Smith couldn’t keep Rodon’s first pitches in the strike zone. Then when Rodon got a grounder to the left side, Tim Anderson botched the backhand stab by thinking about 6-4-3 instead of 6-4.
Then, Rodon got another grounder to the left side, but Yoan Moncada caught Anderson’s somewhat wide flip and rushed the play further by making the barehanded grab and throw in one motion. He fired wide of Jose Abreu, and the error allowed Benintendi to score on the second error of the inning.
That was the first of two unearned runs to score, and those runs made the difference today. The White Sox struck for two runs off David Price in the first inning, but could contribute nothing more.
At least Rodon could only blame himself for the other runs. Jackie Bradley Jr. reversed a 91-mph fastball and sent it out to center for a game-tying solo shot in the second inning. In the fifth, Rodon committed his own mistake by failing to catch Abreu’s flip while covering the bag (Abreu was charged with the error, but it looked like Rodon’s fault). That allowed the leadoff man to reach, and then Rodon hung an 0-1 changeup to J.D. Martinez, who swatted it into the Red Sox bullpen for the game-deciding blow.
It’s a frustrating loss insofar that the White Sox were beat by their own mistakes more than Boston’s talent. That said, Rodon’s first debut was encouraging. He struck out seven over five innings and threw 63 of 97 pitches for strikes, even though he couldn’t find his slider until the last two innings. He ratcheted his fastball up to 97 and his best sliders cracked 90.
He used both to escape further defense in the fifth, not to mention his own defense. With runners on the corners and one out, Rodon gloved Rafael Devers’ soft comebacker and looked to third, where Eduardo Nunez had broken for home on the contact play. Not only did Rodon chase Nunez back to third, but he applied the tag himself for the ultra-rare no-throw rundown.
If there’s any solace, he would’ve needed more support than the White Sox offense gave him regardless of the errors.
It looked good early when the first three White Sox reached to start the game. Tim Anderson singled, Jose Rondon walked, and Jose Abreu banged a double off the monster to score one. It should’ve scored two, but Rondon didn’t trust Fenway’s dimensions and could only advance to third. Fortunately, a Kevan Smith RBI groundout made those particular 90 feet moot.
Price settled in after that, getting a pair of double plays to prevent the White Sox from getting another runner into scoring position on his watch.
The White Sox couldn’t mount a threat until the eighth, when Yolmer Sanchez came off the bench and cracked his league-leading seventh triple off the garage door in center field with one out. Alas, Abreu struck out, and while Matt Davidson walked to extend the inning, Smith flied out on the first pitch to end the threat.
Craig Kimbrel retired the side in order for the save.
*If Abreu has one gap in his game, it’s the situation that presented itself in the eighth. He’s 1-for-13 with just six RBIs over 16 plate appearances with a runner on third and fewer than two outs.
*Xavier Cedeno struck out all three batters he faced, and Chris Volstad and Luis Avilan tacked on two more scoreless innings between them.
*The 6-7-8 part of the order — Moncada, Trayce Thompson and Daniel Palka — went 0-for-11 with a walk and eight strikeouts.
Record: 21-41 | Box score