Narratively, little could be more perfect than Carlos Rodón, returning to the White Sox to settle unfinished business after years of frustration and injury, getting a chance to save a season that was built upon his breakout. After coming to spring training without a guaranteed rotation spot, it was Rodón’s twice-surgically repaired left arm that carried the Sox season while injuries decimated the offensive core. So it was thematically fitting that he be granted a chance to save it.

But no matter how much our ilk might try to convince you otherwise, narratives don’t win playoff games. On Tuesday afternoon in Chicago, neither did the White Sox, who fell to the Astros 10-1 in Game 4 to end their 2021 season.

By the top of the third inning, the adrenaline coursing through Rodón’s shoulder as he touched 99 mph in a game for the first time since July, was competing with rival forces. Rest restored his velocity, but could not aid the stamina that was lost from making two starts of fewer than 70 pitches since Sept. 20, which was evident as both Tony La Russa and the Astros worked Rodón for 30 pitches in the third inning. Rodón summoned 97 mph at the letters one last time on an 0-2 pitch to Carlos Correa — after the two walks he issued to load the bases demonstrated that the Astros could lay off the chase sliders he offered — and saw it drilled to left for a go-ahead two-run double.

“I wasn’t going to let a fastball go past me,” Correa said.

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