Rodón continues to put '23 in rearview as Yanks win 7th straight

June 6th, 2024

NEW YORK -- Yankees left-hander had a season to forget in 2023. He dealt with injuries and, quite frankly, struggled when he was able to pitch. His 6.85 ERA in 14 games that year is proof.

Rodón’s low point came in his final game of the 2023 season against the Royals. The date was Sept. 29. He didn’t retire a batter and allowed eight runs. Even worse, Rodón turned his back on pitching coach Matt Blake during a mound visit, then later brushed past manager Aaron Boone after he was taken out of the game.

“I was obviously frustrated with my performance, even the attitude leaving the season,” Rodón said. “It made me hungrier going into the offseason. All I want to do is win. I want to perform for my teammates. I don’t want to let my teammates down.”

Boone noticed the positive change in Rodón once he arrived at Yankees camp this Spring Training. That positive vibe carried over into Wednesday night’s 9-5 victory against the Twins at Yankee Stadium. It was Rodón’s sixth consecutive win.

The Yankees have won seven straight games to improve to an American League-best 44-19.

“What I love about Carlos is that he continues to chop wood, just focus on work, focus on all that goes into preparing,” Boone said. “It started in the winter, carried into Spring Training, carried into game day and the days he is not starting. And [he] focuses on getting ready to go out and pitch, and the results have been good.”

The results were more than good for the first 5 1/3 innings against Minnesota. Rodón had a perfect game going. Did Rodón think he was going to make history?

“You never know what’s going to happen. That’s baseball,” Rodón said. “Obviously, I knew in the back of my head, I knew it was there. I just kept pitching. I just tried to get through six or seven [innings]. I made it through six. I did my job. The boys swung the bat well.”

Yankees catcher Austin Wells was behind the plate while Rodón was working his magic on the mound.

“I had a little feeling in my stomach from the start that he was on a roll,” Wells said. “I didn’t think there were many hitters in baseball that could hit him tonight.”

But Rodón wouldn’t have gone that far if not for the defense behind him. In the second inning, left-fielder Alex Verdugo made a nice running catch in left-center field to rob Byron Buxton.

“I was hoping [Verdugo] didn’t go through the wall,” Rodón said. “I said, ‘Please don’t hit the wall too hard.’ I think the brim of his cap hit the wall and he made the catch. I was like, ‘How in the hell did you catch that?’ Great catch.”

An inning later, shortstop Anthony Volpe had to get on his knees to field a ground ball and throw out Carlos Santana at first base. In the fourth, right fielder Juan Soto had to climb the fence in foul territory to catch a ball hit by Manuel Margot.

“I thought it was in the stands. I threw the pitch and turned around. … Then Juan turns around and makes the catch. Another great play,” Rodón said.

Rodón’s perfect game came to an end in the top of the sixth inning, when Santana parked a 1-1 pitch into the right-field seats. Another run scored that inning when Kyle Farmer touched home plate on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Correa.

Rodón ended up throwing six innings, allowing two runs on three hits and striking out a season-high nine batters.

“The best pitch for [Rodón] is his fastball,” Twins third baseman Royce Lewis said. “He has great command of his slider, but for him, I tried to be aggressive. He throws a lot of strikes. Especially today, he had great command for his inside pitch tonight.”

After he was done, Rodón was seen talking with rehabbing teammate Gerrit Cole in the dugout. They were talking about pitch sequencing after the sixth came to an end.

“[Santana] sees me very well,” Rodón said. “Go figure. He drives the ball to right on a hard fastball. I tip my hat to him. It was a good swing. He made a better swing than the pitch I made. That’s part of baseball.”

The Bronx Bombers scored early and often for Rodón. It started in the first inning when they scored four runs off Twins right-hander Chris Paddack. Gleyber Torres highlighted the scoring with a two-run double.

In the fifth inning, Aaron Judge had a bases-loaded triple off Diego Castillo. He got his fifth RBI of the game an inning later with a bases-loaded walk against right-hander Josh Staumont.

“The boys scoring runs like that makes it a lot easier to go out there, fill the zone and try to get outs,” Rodón said. “You saw the defensive plays tonight from the outfield and the infield. I thought we played a great game. The offense keeps carrying this team for sure.”