Carlos Rodón was originally slated to start for the Chicago White Sox on Monday but was scratched because of an upset stomach.
He returned Wednesday and flirted with perfection before making history.
Rodón threw the 20th no-hitter in Sox history, striking out seven in an 8-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians in front of 7,148 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
He was perfect through 8⅓ innings before hitting Roberto Pérez with a pitch. He then got the last two outs for the second Sox no-hitter in eight months. Lucas Giolito no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 25.
“It’s a pretty special moment,” Rodón said.
The ninth inning began with a close play at first base. Josh Naylor hit a grounder to first, and José Abreu barely beat him to the bag sliding feet first as Naylor dived head first. The out call was upheld upon review.
Rodón then hit Pérez with a 0-2 slider for the only Indians baserunner.
After striking out Yu Chang for the second out, Rodón got Jordan Luplow to ground out to third.
The Sox non-tendered the left-hander Dec. 2, then re-signed him Feb. 1. He entered camp competing for a spot in the rotation, and he earned it with a spectacular spring training.
Rodón, 28, was the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft. He has been hampered by a variety of injuries throughout his career.
He was limited to 12 starts in 2017 because of left biceps bursitis and left shoulder inflammation. After having offseason shoulder surgery, he made 20 starts in 2018 and seven more in 2019 before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
He appeared in four games with two starts in 2020. He went on the 10-day injured list Aug. 4 with left shoulder soreness, was transferred to the 45-day IL on Sept. 13 and returned 11 days later.
He came to camp healthy and motivated.
“It means a lot, the front office believing in me to sign me back,” Rodón said. “They knew I had something to prove. They knew I was hungry. I’m just happy that I can prove that I can still play this game and played at the level that I thought I was going to be when they drafted me.”
He received plenty of offensive support early Wednesday. Yermín Mercedes hit a three-run homer during a six-run first inning.
All attention then turned to Rodón. He received a nice defensive play by Leury García in the sixth when the shortstop fielded a hard-hit grounder by Pérez and threw to first for the second out. Rodón struck out Chang for the third out.
Rodón started the seventh by striking out Luplow. Cesar Hernandez flied out to center and José Ramírez lined out to left.
At that point Rodón said he started thinking, “This is getting a little real.”
Franmil Reyes popped out to second baseman Nick Madrigal to begin the eighth. Jake Bauers and Amed Rosario struck out swinging to put Rodón three outs from perfection.
During the celebration after the game, he hugged pitching coach Ethan Katz and said, “toe ball,” referring to the pitch to Pérez.
“I was like ‘you’ve got to start it above his right knee or above his right shoulder’ and I was like all right ‘Here we go’ and I threw it and it just took off like one of those snakes and I thought ‘Oh there goes the toe ball’ and you hear that ‘clunk,’” Rodón said. “What you can do is laugh about it. It wasn’t meant to be.”
The offense did its part out of the gate.
The Sox had seven hits in the six-run first. Moncada drove in Adam Eaton with a single. Mercedes followed with his third home run. The 431-foot blast to left gave the Sox a 4-0 lead.
Andrew Vaughn doubled to left with two outs, and García knocked him in with a double. Madrigal followed with the final hit of the inning, an RBI single to right.
One night after being limited to three hits in 10 innings, the Sox more than doubled that mark against Zach Plesac. The Indians starter, who is from Crown Point, Ind., lasted just two-thirds of an inning.
Rodón had plenty to work with. And work he did.
“Not many people can say they’ve thrown a no-hitter in Major League Baseball,” Rodón said. “We always talk about it, it seems like. Any interview with you guys, it’s like, ‘Oh, there’s been some ups and downs. What’s it like to go through that, go through some adversity?’ It just feels good to finally sit here and tell you, ‘I dominated today.’ And it felt good. I’ve never really done that. I’ve never done it on this level at least. It feels good to say, ‘I did it.’”