Things are just a little too back to normal for the White Sox. They struggled to make contact against a marginal starter, they biffed away a lead with defensive miscues, they will not win the series for the first time out of the last five, and they're a losing ballclub again. It's familiar, in a way that the end of a sunny day reminds you that the electricity in your apartment is out.
Going into Wednesday night, the only thing I really was fascinated in was Rodon's start, on a cold night against a lefty-centric Indians lineup that he should have been able to overpower when he needed to. Instead, a madcap final three innings wound up taking the lead on the game's narrative arc. Inheriting a 1-1 tie from Rodon in the seventh, Dan Jennings kicked off a disastrous frame by walking the leadoff man (backup catcher Brett Hayes), then botching a chance to gun him out at second by throwing Alexei Ramirez his hardest slider of the night, and further imploding from there. Jake Petricka's best night of stuff of the season to date kept it to just a three-run inning.
More awful relief work nearly redeemed the Sox in the ninth. Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a one-out single off Cody Allen, and was followed by back-to-back walks to Adam LaRoche (commonplace nowadays, it was his 16th of the month) and Avisail Garcia (what the hell). Gillaspie will get a lot of flack for hacking at the first pitch after all this--he probably shouldn't have!--but the fact that he got a strike up in the zone and popped it the hell up is probably more damaging to his long-term roster prospects than his plate discipline (and he homered earlier!). After Alexei Ramirez was rescued by his dribbler falling in the right spot out of the infield to keep the game alive, pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck was so awful against Allen that he even whiffed against a slider in the dirt that bounced away far enough that pinch-runner Emilio Bonifiacio might have scored if he shared Adam Eaton's burning cynicism for the White Sox offense and irrational self-confidence.
Alas, Emilio is a man of hope and reason, and the Sox lost.
- About that Rodon start; he was a mess! He sat in the low-to-mid 90's all night (it was cold) with plenty of natural sink (two double plays rescued him from further hijinks) but couldn't hit the glove with anything, and couldn't even grab the zone with his slider either. The result was five walks in six innings. Unsustainable success takes place in single starts all the time, but Rodon escaping with one run for the night--and even then only on a one-out sac fly in his last inning of work--can be added to the file of 'Rodon's stuff is unhittable.' He allowed four singles on the night, and while he doesn't throw enough strikes to get hitters to chase his gonzo slider, it's instantly revealed to be an egregious error whenever they do. The kid's got potential, and again, this is better than Noesi.
- The ghost of Shaun Marcum maxed out at 87 mph for the night, yet still struck out six Sox hitters and walked none over 6.2 innings in his first appearance on a major league mound in over a month. It was probably when he cut through Abreu-LaRoche-Garcia in the fourth in nine pitches that I knew the night had taken a dark turn. It's not a requirement that every fill-in starter gets annihilated, but after getting taken to shed twice already this series, it's an ominous sign that someone who's been firing blanks since the 2011 playoffs rolled over and grabbed a QS as well.
- Adam Eaton and Conor Gillaspie started the slow work of pushing up the Sox home run total back above the ground with solo shots off Marcum. Eaton blasts are inherently comical due to their rarity--his only shot of 2014 was also at the Cell, against the Indians, and seemed like it had the help of gale force winds--and this was no exception, as he suddenly contorted himself into an extreme uppercut finish and golfed a moonshot over the right field bullpen. Gillaspie home run moved into a tie for fourth-most dingers on the team with...two.
Next game is at 7:10pm CT vs. the Indians on CSN