The Indians knew they had their work cut out for them when starter Zach Plesac couldn’t get out of the first inning for the first time in his career. But little did they know that it was going to be on the wrong end of history just three hours later.
White Sox starter Carlos Rodón retired the first 25 batters he faced Wednesday night before permitting his first baserunner on a hit by pitch. But Rodón collected himself to record the 20th no-hitter in White Sox franchise history -- the most of any American League team -- in Cleveland's 8-0 loss at Guaranteed Rate Field. It marked the 12th time the Indians have been no-hit in club history -- the last coming on July 27, 2011, by Ervin Santana, then with the Angels.
“He was good,” Indians backstop Roberto Pérez said. “He got us off balance. He had really good stuff tonight. It was his night tonight.”
While Cleveland has experienced this feeling before, this was a foreign feeling for Indians manager Terry Francona, who managed 3,146 regular-season games before being on the losing end of a no-hitter for the first time in his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the third-longest streak a manager ever had before getting no-hit for the first time, trailing Bucky Harris (3,661) and Walter Alston (3,610).
“He kind of overwhelmed us,” said Francona. “I think I had spoken before the game. … I said when he’s good, he gets stronger as the game goes. You know, you saw him touch 99 [mph] and [throw] 114 pitches, and his breaking ball got better and he even threw some changeups. He got into a rhythm and just got stronger as the game went.”
The Indians were on the heels of a night in which their bats were shut down by Chicago’s Lucas Giolito through seven-plus frames. Cleveland didn’t push a run across the plate until the 10th inning when the club plated two to secure the win after a nine-inning outing from Shane Bieber. Bieber’s performance was one that appeared wouldn't be topped, however, it took just one night for Rodón to take the spotlight.
On 114 pitches, Rodón silenced the Indians’ bats with his entire arsenal, recording 12 outs with his four-seamer, eight with the slider and seven with the changeup.
“You’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Pérez said. “He pitched nine great innings and he had all of his pitches working. He had a good changeup. His slider is one of the best sliders from a lefty. And he’s got a good fastball. So, you’ve got to give credit to him.”
After José Ramírez laced a 110.6-mph line drive for an out to left field, the closest the Indians came to spoiling the no-hitter was a Josh Naylor groundout to first base in the ninth. The soft ground ball pulled José Abreu far enough off first base to make it a foot race to the bag, but Abreu barely beat Naylor to secure the out. Following Naylor’s groundout, Pérez was hit by a slider off his back foot to break up the perfect game with just two outs remaining. But Rodón still made history by fanning Yu Chang and forcing Jordan Luplow to ground out to third base.
“To be honest, I really didn’t think he had a perfect game until I got hit,” Pérez said. “I thought he had a no-hitter going on, but I really didn’t think he had a perfect game. So, it’s hard, man. I’m not gonna try to stand there and get hit, you know? Especially after a night like tonight that it was cold. But that’s just part of the game. That’s all I can say.”
As if Rodón’s stuff wasn’t challenging enough to overcome, the Indians didn’t get much help from Plesac, who was charged with six runs in two-thirds of an inning. He became the sixth opposing pitcher in MLB history to not make it out of the first inning in a no-hitter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Wednesday was Plesac’s worst outing of his career, but what made it worse is the fact that he had to sit in the dugout and watch the opposing starter have a night that every pitcher dreams of experiencing.
"I mean this has been the toughest game, day, of my entire career so far,” Plesac said. “Minor Leagues, big leagues, high school, college, anything. It hurts, man. It’s tough. You know, this isn’t going to knock me down. This isn’t going to make me think I need to start changing things. I’m going to obviously have a good workweek, attack my next bullpen, make some adjustments and be ready to pitch in five days.”