White Sox season ends with lopsided loss to Astros in Game 4
When it was over, Carlos Rodon remained perched on the railing in the White Sox's dugout.
The Astros were in full hug mode after rolling to a 10-1 win in Game 4 of the American League Division Series Tuesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Houston was clearly the better team, taking the best-of-five series in four games.
Eligible for free agency, Rodon might have been thinking about where he'll be pitching next year. Or, pondering if this was his last game with the Sox after a seven-year run that was riddled with injuries.
Those thoughts are likely coming in the days and weeks ahead.
After the White Sox's season came to a close, Rodon thought about getting back to the playoffs again next year.
"You just kind of think through the season you had," he said. "And then you look at the guys out on the field that are cheering in front of you and, for me, I wanted that feeling. That's why I just sat there, sat there and watched just for a little extra motivation and let that sit there for me."
After falling behind in the ALDS with two losses at Houston, the Sox came to life in Game 3.
They did fall behind 5-1 Sunday night in their first home playoff game since 2008, but the White Sox fed off the energy of a raucous crowd and rallied for a 12-6 win.
Back at Guaranteed Rate Field Tuesday afternoon after Monday's Game 4 was rained out, the White Sox found themselves swimming in similar unfavorable early waters.
Getting to Rodon in the third inning and reliever Michael Kopech in the fourth, the Astros again jumped out to a 5-1 lead.
In his first start since Sept. 29, Rodon's sore shoulder looked fine as he threw multiple 99-mph fastballs. Fatigue was the bigger issue, and the left-hander lasted just 2⅔ innings while throwing 56 pitches and allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.
Unlike Game 3, the White Sox couldn't muster a comeback, and now they're going home.
"I think that it's a learning experience for all of us, but we got a big taste of what it's like to play at home in the playoffs and I don't think anybody is going to forget today and Sunday night, just what it was like, the crowd, the blackout, the support," said rookie designated hitter Gavin Sheets, who drove in the Sox's lone run with a solo homer in the second inning. "That burns a fire and that makes you want to do it again and with a different outcome. Last year, we got to the wild card. This year, we won the division. We're just going to continue to grow and I think that going into the offseason, we're all going to be talking about that atmosphere and wanting to play in front of that again."
The White Sox head into the winter with a bad taste in their mouths while the Astros advance to the AL Championship Series, where they hold home-field advantage over the Boston Red Sox.
"We accomplished the first goal, but we are disappointed to get one win and not two more, so bittersweet," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "The talent is there. Every year they get more experience, they got a better chance to do it. The staff and I were talking before the game, I'm talking about the entire staff, very thankful that we had the opportunity to work with these guys.
"It was as good as it could be. They're a very special group. We ended up disappointed. I'm hurting for them, but it's an amazing group."