CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodon is talented.That much was known about the White Sox left-hander from the first time he threw a pitch as part of the organization. But Rodon also is confident, and most importantly, fully healthy after last September's season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery.This combination has made him virtually untouchable
CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodon is talented.
That much was known about the White Sox left-hander from the first time he threw a pitch as part of the organization. But Rodon also is confident, and most importantly, fully healthy after last September's season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
This combination has made him virtually untouchable since the start of July, with a Major League-best 1.27 ERA. Rodon added eight scoreless innings to his ledger during Friday's 1-0, walk-off victory over the Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field, meaning he has allowed just six runs on 22 hits in his last 42 2/3 innings.
Along with healthy, confident and talented, the words "White Sox ace" should be attached to Rodon's resume.
"I feel pretty good," Rodon said. "I might not have all my stuff, but it's working. Just throwing it up over the dish and letting the defense do the work for me. We got through some games, and I've been fortunate.
"Just the confidence is there. Just feel like you belong. and you get your shoulder fixed, and you know there's no issue, nothing wrong. There's no doubt in your mind when you go out and I step on the mound that I'm healthy and I'm coming to compete. It's a big thing for anyone in this game to have that confidence when you step on the field, to say I can play with you guys."
Before further plaudits deservedly are placed upon Rodon, a little credit must be given to Daniel Palka for providing all of Friday's offense. Palka opened the ninth by launching a 1-2 fastball up and out of the zone from reliever Neil Ramirez into the left-field stands for his 18th home run of the season.
Palka had struck out in three previous at-bats before going deep, just as he had struck out four times Sunday in St. Petersburg before beating the Rays with a mammoth homer to center. The best pitch to hit of that final at-bat was a first-pitch fastball fouled off by Palka, but he made do.
"They were getting me on some bad pitches to hit, down, whether it was heaters or breaking balls, early in the game," Palka said. "I just wanted something up in the zone. I didn't think I'd get another one after I missed the first pitch, but he came back to it and I got it."
Trayce Thompson has the only other walk-off homer for Chicago this season, coming on May 3 against the Twins.
Rodon's eight scoreless innings matched a career-high, striking out five and walking two. In his last six starts, Rodon has walked 19 and struck out 36.
Of his 106 pitches Friday, Rodon threw 38 sliders and topped out at 97.4 mph on the fastball, per Statcast™. His only real trouble came in the first inning, when Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion walked and then executed a double steal with two outs. But Rodon struck out Brandon Guyer to end the frame.
"[Rodon's] stuff was phenomenal," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "Like a lot of good pitchers, it seemed like he got stronger as the game went along. His best velocity was late in the game, and he's got a good breaking ball to go along with it. We've seen him pitch good before, but he was on top of his game tonight."
"He's throwing the ball really, really well," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "His off-speed, his breaking balls are working well. That front-door action also. He's throwing the ball very, very well. Very focused. He's having fun, he's relaxed."
Cleveland starter Shane Bieber was equally effective, hurling 6 2/3 shutout innings. Bieber struck out eight and walked two, He yielded a leadoff double to Yoan Moncada in the fifth, but struck out Ryan LaMarre and Nicky Delmonico, then retired Yolmer Sanchez on a fly ball to right.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Too much of a sacrifice: LaMarre opened the eighth with a single to right off of reliever Oliver Perez, and Renteria pinch-hit Adam Engel for Delmonico with the purpose of laying down a bunt. Engel tried three and failed three times for a strikeout. LaMarre never moved from first as Jose Abreu flied deep to center against Ramirez to end the inning.
Success by committee: Renteria used three pitches to get through the ninth inning, with Jace Fry facing three batters and eventually earning the victory. With runners on first and second, Fry struck out Yan Gomes as the culmination of an 11-pitch at-bat and then retired Jason Kipnis on a popup to Sanchez.
The White Sox are 5-3 in their past eight games and 6-4 in their past 10 against the American League Central.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Sanchez added a new twist to his entertaining walk-off celebration. Instead of dousing himself with the water as he has done in the past, he nailed third base-coach Nick Capra as Palka rounded third.
"That was hilarious," Palka said. "I wasn't sure what he was doing, and right when I noticed he was getting Cappy, I couldn't help but start laughing."
HE SAID IT
"I like being in those moments. The outcome is the outcome, but I definitely enjoy the pressure, so to speak." -- Palka
On a day when Jim Thome will be honored for his Hall of Fame induction and Mark Buehrle will be at the ballpark, James Shields takes the mound Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field for a 6:10 p.m. CT first pitch. Trevor Bauer will get the start for the Indians. Shields is 0-3 with a 4.88 ERA and .264 opponents average over his last four starts, but he's 3-4 with a 2.85 ERA and .195 opponents average in his past 10 starts at home.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.