Rodón able to 'grind, adjust' vs. Cleveland

White Sox left-hander battles command, but logs 8 K's in no-no followup

April 21st, 2021

There was no perfection or no-hitter flirtation for during the White Sox 8-5 victory over the Indians on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.

In fact, Jordan Luplow drew a nine-pitch walk to open Cleveland’s half of the first against the Chicago southpaw. But this five-inning, 110-pitch start with eight strikeouts from Rodón was almost as significant in his mound growth as the no-hitter he threw in his previous trip to the mound last Wednesday -- also against the Indians.

"Just trying to command the zone,” Rodón said after improving to 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA. “Today was a little shaky with command, but there are going to be plenty of starts like today. I'm sure this won't be the last one this year, a grind.

“I walk a few guys or throw a lot of pitches in an inning. It's part of the game and it's just something you have to adjust to over every start. Some days will be good and some days I won't have it. Some days I'll have everything.”

Rodón did not have pinpoint accuracy, as he explained, with five walks. But he limited any major damage, even in moments where he didn’t get significant defensive help. Cleveland loaded the bases with none out in the fourth on a Nick Madrigal throwing error, catcher’s interference ruled against Yasmani Grandal and a walk drawn by Roberto Pérez. But Rodón fanned Yu Chang and then Luplow on a full-count fastball, before Cesar Hernandez reached on an infield single.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson kept the ball on the infield after it ricocheted off third baseman Yoán Moncada, and Josh Naylor inexplicably ran through a stop sign at third base and was easily thrown out at the plate by Moncada. Rodón would have faced a bases-loaded, two-out situation with José Ramirez at the plate, trying to protect a 3-2 lead, if Naylor had stayed at third.

“It was a situation where I had to pick up my teammates, got a couple strikeouts, and then Yo knocked that ball down at third,” Rodón said. “That ball was hit hard, heck of a play and then cut 'em down at home. We got out of that jam with one run, which you take as a success there. Like I said, it's not going to be perfect and sometimes you've got to bail the guys out.”

“That's hard to do. That's a lot to ask for somebody to back that up again,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of Rodón following up the no-hitter with a start against the same team. “But his stuff was good. We made him work. We didn't have a ton to show for it, but we drove his pitch count up, which, that's the next best thing.”

After Rodón battled through the five frames and gave way to five relievers to finish the task, the White Sox offense came alive to help push the team to 9-9. José Abreu homered twice, while Anderson and Grandal also went deep for Chicago, giving Abreu 202 career blasts.

Abreu ended a stretch of 47 plate appearances and 41 at-bats without clearing the fences, getting a rare start at designated hitter to help shake loose from early-season hitting doldrums.

“Dangerous, man. It's dangerous. A huge bat in the lineup,” Anderson said of Abreu heating up with three hits and three RBIs. “Once he gets going, pretty much everybody else is rolling as well. It definitely says that bat's coming around."

Luplow’s leadoff home run in the third ended Rodón’s streak of 13 consecutive no-hit innings, 51 consecutive batters faced without allowing a hit and 17 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings dating to the 2020 regular season. But Rodón did more than enough to win in facing the same team he no-hit in his subsequent start for the first time since Jered Weaver did so with the Angels against the Twins in May 2012.

The no-hitter was a huge moment in the career of Rodón, forgotten about quickly after the celebration.

“It was the same thing preparing for a start, nothing really different,” Rodón said. “The routine was the same, the mindset was the same. As soon as that night was over, I just turned the page and got ready to work again, because I knew I had to start in six days.”

“He came out ready to pitch,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “It wasn't an easy game for him. A lot of plus guts marks therefore. We've talked about it, man. In this league, mental and physical toughness is what makes productive pitchers and players. He's showing it."