Carlos Rodón spearheads White Sox' crucial win in Kansas City

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First-class pitching helps Sox drown out the noise originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

That was just a good old-fashioned W.

Superb starting pitching, solid execution on offense, the bullpen secures the bag and the closer shuts it down. It was an all-around effort for a team that desperately needed to do some walking to drown out the talking from earlier this week.

In six innings of work, Rodón gave up five hits, struck out eight batters and walked nobody for another scoreless performance on the mound. At 5-0, his ERA is now 0.58, having finally pitched enough innings to officially qualify on MLB.com as the best pitcher in all of baseball.

When asked about Rodón’s superstar run, White Sox manager Tony La Russa explained what he thinks makes a pitcher successful at the major league level.

“The first step was to attain the kind of delivery and consistency,” La Russa said Friday on the postgame Zoom press conference. “The second one is to take it into a game and compete … And the third … is that you focus it on the next start … All those things, [if] he keeps doing it, they add up to a real special season for him, for us.”

The fastball was Rodón’s poison of choice on Friday, but as we know, he’s no short-order cook.

“He’s got four pitches for strikes,” catcher Zack Collins told reporters on Friday.

Right now, it’s when in doubt, the fastball has been good for him. And at the same time, it’s like when you see a hitter cheating to it, you can throw the changeup. He’s thrown a lot of changeups for strikes. And then he has that wipeout slider, and he’s getting that curveball over for strike one a lot.”

And while Rodón’s operation spearheaded the win, Collins made a massive, 430-foot long donation of his own to kickstart the offense.

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“I was just trying to put together a competitive at-bat,” Collins said. “When a guy’s rolling like that, anything can throw him off, whether it’s a jam base hit or a walk … I’m just trying to put together a competitive at-bat and got the barrel to it, and got it out.”

In the sixth inning, the top of the lineup provided some cushion. Tim Anderson doubled to deep right and made it home on a single from Adam Eaton. José Abreu then drove Eaton home, the third and final run of the game, with a double of his own.

Right-handed reliever Codi Heuer, who’s last stint on the mound resulted in three earned runs in a 5-0 loss to Cleveland, entered the game in the seventh. This time, he went three up, three down.

Lefty Aaron Bummer was called out to start the eighth, and allowed only an infield single, while striking out two.

And then came the closer, Liam Hendricks. Perhaps still a bit shaken by his journey around the base pads Wednesday, Hendricks allowed a leadoff double to Salvador Perez and found himself with the bases loaded with two outs as a result of a catcher’s interference call and an infield single. He got out of the jam, though, forcing a pop out to end the game.

This is the relief performance the White Sox hadn’t just hoped for, but expected, at the start of the season, the archetype of a championship bullpen (Okay, maybe not the leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth, but you catch my drift). La Russa said as much after the game.

“I think that was classic,” he said. “I mean, Codi came in there and was outstanding, and then you give bummer the top of the lineup … After that, Liam cranked out a bunch of really outstanding pitches. And we’ve got other guys. Crochet was available today, and Marshall and Foster and Ruiz, so it has the making of the kind of bullpen that Kenny and Rick talked about – a lot of depth.”

Everything came together for the White Sox on Friday night, and we’re seeing that when this team fires on all cylinders, it’s almost whimsical to watch.

But it’s critical that the South Siders actually go on to win this series in Kansas City. The White Sox have only won two series so far this season out of 10 (though two have yet to be decided due to rain postponements), and have only put together one winning streak that’s exceeded two games. It’s been a two steps forward, two steps back dance in the early going, and what the ball club really needs is momentum. And what better way to gain it than stomping a division rival in their own park.

We can only hope that a win like this will heal the wounds of a savagely bitter week on the South Side. But if the team we saw tonight is them at their most vulnerable, that’s a heck of a good sign moving forward.

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