CHICAGO — The never shy Todd Frazier had been focused on one thing: 40 home runs.
“I don’t if you guys know, but he’s been talking about it for a while,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said, smirking. “I know I’ve heard it a lot.”
Frazier picked a good time to reach the mark for the first time in his career, providing all the offense Miguel Gonzalez needed in Chicago’s 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on a soggy Wednesday night.
Frazier became the seventh White Sox player to reach the milestone when he connected off knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa (0-2) with two out in the seventh. Frazier is hitting .391 (18 for 46) during a 12-game hitting streak.
“Not many people have hit 40 home runs in a year,” Frazier said, “so it’s a good feat to have.”
Gonzalez (5-7) overcame a 1 hour, 16-minute rain delay in the third inning by throwing 25 pitches in two separate throwing sessions in the batting cage, determined not to have his last start of the season shortened.
“I’m not sure what Gonzalez did over there in that other clubhouse, but he definitely didn’t get out of rhythm,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Gonzalez retired 18 of 19 before being lifted after Logan Forsythe’s one-out single to left in the ninth. David Robertson immediately got a double-play grounder to finish the three-hitter for his 37th save in 44 tries.
It was a satisfying finish for the Gonzalez, who was released by Baltimore at the end of spring training and signed to a minor league deal in April. The right-hander became a key cog in the rotation and hopes to re-sign in the offseason.
“They were really good about letting me know when I went to Triple-A what was going on, the guys that were doing well or the guys who were going to get an opportunity to pitch,” Gonzalez said. “You’ve just got to run with it and I thought I had a pretty good season.”
The game was also delayed by 21 minutes before the start. It was 57 degrees at first pitch and rain came and went amid blustery conditions as a tiny crowd watched Chicago win its fifth straight.
The game itself lasted only 2 hours, 10 minutes, thanks to a dominant Gonzalez.
“He’s been great. He really has,” Ventura said. “You watch him battle and locate and it’s not rear back and blow somebody away. He’s got great movement and great control and poise on the mound. I love watching him pitch.”
Rays left-hander Blake Snell allowed one hit while getting five outs, but was replaced by Ryan Garton after the second delay.
“I wish that it didn’t rain so I could have seen what would have happened,” Snell said.
Gamboa entered in the fifth and flustered the White Sox into off-balance swings and soft outs until Frazier pulled a 74 mph knuckler into the left-field seats for his 98th RBI.
Gonzalez worked around Luke Maile’s one-out double in the sixth to end the only threat by the Rays, who have lost six straight.
The rainy, lengthy night capped an odd day for the White Sox. USA Today reported the front office has decided to retain the embattled Ventura, but the manager had yet to decide whether he wanted to return.
Ventura deflected pregame questions about his future, saying any decisions would be made after the season ends Sunday.
Rays: OF Kevin Kiermaier (bruised left hand) was in the lineup after a two-game absence.
White Sox: Lefty-hitting RF Adam Eaton didn’t start, but played in the field in the ninth a night after returning following a three-game absence due to crashing into the outfield wall in Cleveland. “I felt a little sore, but I was fresh,” Eaton said. . 2B Tyler Saladino (back) missed his sixth straight game.
Rays RHP Chase Whitley will make his first start in place of LHP Drew Smyly in Sunday’s season finale at Texas. Whitley, who has a 1.74 ERA out of the bullpen since returning from Tommy John surgery last month, is scheduled to throw 75-80 pitches. “He’s deserving,” Cash said.
Rays RHP Chris Archer (8-19, 4.02 ERA) tries to avoid a 20th loss Thursday night in his final start of the season as the teams conclude the four-game series. LHP Jose Quintana (12-11, 3.26) starts for Chicago.