Rodón quiets Twins after loud start: 'That was awesome'

Lefty dialed in despite allowing leadoff HR; Yanks' balanced offense led by Stanton's blast

May 15th, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS -- After a rough start, settled into a groove quickly, and the Twins were stuck making right turns at first base most of the night.

Rodón worked six-plus strong innings and the Yankees pounded out 13 hits in a 5-1 win over the Twins on Tuesday at Target Field.

For the fourth time in his past five starts, Rodón pitched at least six innings. On Tuesday, it was made possible in part by a stretch between the third and sixth innings when he retired 11 straight batters. Only two of those outs came by the strikeout, which he was quick to point out.

“I’ve got to give it up to my teammates for really good defense out there today,” he said. “There were some hard balls hit and they made a lot of plays, and we scored some runs and we won the game, and that’s what’s important.”

The Twins’ two hardest-hit balls came from their first two batters of the game. Ryan Jeffers led off the first inning with his team-leading 10th homer of the season, a 107.4 mph shot that was projected to travel 414 feet by Statcast. Carlos Correa followed with a line-drive single at 109 mph.

But then Rodón slammed the door. After two quick outs, Manuel Margot poked a soft liner to right for a single. That brought up Carlos Santana, who homered in three straight games over the weekend and had a career .382 batting average against Rodón.

No worries. Rodón put him away with a wicked slider in the dirt, one of six strikeouts on the night for the lefty.

“I thought he kind of got it going there, even in that first inning,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Obviously, Jeffers jumped him for the homer and then Correa smoked a ball there to left, but I thought he had his shapes right after that. It looked like his breaking ball to me was really good right away. But then he mixed a little bit, threw some really good changeups today for some big outs for him that gave a little bit of a different look.”

It didn’t hurt that all nine Yankee starters had at least one hit by the fifth inning. That barrage included ’s ninth homer of the season, a line drive that left the bat at 114 mph and landed in the bullpen 427 feet away. Stanton, , and each had two hits on the night.

“It just puts added pressure on the opposing pitcher,” Stanton said of the high-traffic night on the basepaths. “Sooner or later, you’re going to score some runs.”

Rodón also continued another positive trend -- for the third straight outing, he didn’t walk a batter.

“It’s big. You want to make them earn it,” Boone said of the walk-free game. “If he can eliminate that, with some of the swing-and-miss stuff that he has, it allows you to work around some where they do square you up, where they do create traffic, and you’re not doing it by issuing free passes. It just sets you up for more success.”

Rodón’s changeup was an especially effective pitch. He only threw nine of them, but he got six swings and four whiffs from the Twins, who stacked their lineup with nine right-handed or switch-hitters.

“They were just so heavy on the fastball-slider combo there, that righty-heavy lineup, just something going away from them,” Rodón said. “[Austin] Wells calling those changeups and just executing them, getting some swing-and-miss, it worked out.”

Of course, none of the success would have happened if the veteran hadn’t shaken off the results of the first two hitters he faced, a point emphasized by Rodón’s slugging teammate.

“With the early homer, for him not to be fazed at all and settle in and give us six-plus, yeah, that was awesome,” Stanton said.