Rodon Loses Perfect Game in Ninth, But Completes No-Hitter; CWS 8, CLE 0
Bob Toth | On 14, Apr 2021
Carlos Rodon etched his name in the Major League Baseball record book, losing a perfect game with one out in the ninth on a hit by pitch before nailing down the final two outs to secure a dominating 8-0 win for the Chicago White Sox over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.
Rodon, scratched from his start on Monday with stomach issues but staring down a place in the historical archives, took the mound in the ninth with 95 pitches thrown to the minimum 24 batters that he had faced through eight. Josh Naylor found himself quickly in an 0-2 hole and grounded to first, losing a bang-bang foot race to the bag to reigning American League MVP Jose Abreu. Two outs away, Rodon got ahead of Roberto Perez with high heat, but went low and in with a back foot slider and caught the toe of Perez’s right cleat, sending the backstop to first base with Cleveland’s first base runner of the night and ending Rodon’s bid to pitch the fourth perfect game in ChiSox history. He went back to the slider to punch out Yu Chang on a questionable pitch in for the second out and got Jordan Luplow to ground his game-high 19th pitch of the inning to third base, where Yoan Moncada fired to Abreu to kickstart a celebration at the mound.
“To be honest, I really didn’t think he had a perfect game until I got hit,” Perez said after the game of his hit by pitch. “I thought he had a no-hitter going on, but I really didn’t think he had a perfect game. It’s hard, man, I’m not going to try to stand there and get hit, especially after a night like tonight when it was cold. That’s just part of the game. That’s all I can say.”
The hitless outing by Rodon was the 20th such game in the history of the White Sox organization, the most in AL history. The city of Chicago owned both no-hitters thrown last season, with Rodon’s teammate Lucas Giolito hurling the junior circuit’s last on August 25. San Diego’s Joe Musgrove threw MLB’s first no-hitter in 2021 last Friday against the Texas Rangers.
“He kind of overwhelmed us. I think I had spoken before the game, I don’t know who asked me, but I said when he’s good, he gets stronger as the game goes,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona of Rodon’s performance. “You saw him touch 99 on pitch 110 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, as most know, own the longest active drought by a team without a no-hitter. Cleveland’s last occurred on May 15, 1981, when Len Barker threw a perfect game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Rodon’s gem marked the 12th time that the Cleveland organization has been no-hit in 121 years of play and it was the first against the club in nearly a full decade (the last pitcher to hurl a no-hitter against the Indians was Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Ervin Santana on July 27, 2011, in the only no-hitter recorded at Jacobs/Progressive Field).
Rodon faced just one over the minimum, striking out seven in nine hitless and scoreless innings, walking none and hitting just the one batter. Backed with a gigantic early lead after his 12-pitch top of the first, he settled in and threw more than 13 pitches in an inning just twice (15 in the fifth and 19 in the ninth). He struck out his first batter in the fourth and had at least one whiff in every inning after that, including a pair in the eighth. In addition to his seven outs via strikeout, he had ten outs in the air (six over the first three innings) and ten outs on the ground (two each in the fifth, sixth, and ninth).
The game was effectively over after a brutal first inning for Cleveland starter Zach Plesac, who did not clear the opening frame. Adam Eaton opened the home half with an infield single to short and was joined on the bases on a single to left by Luis Robert. Abreu flied to right to put runners on the corners and Moncada put the Sox on the board with a single to center to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. Two pitches later, Yermin Mercedes continued his scorching hot start by ripping a three-run bomb deep to the left field seats to expand the lead to 4-0. Zack Collins grounded to second, but Plesac could not stop the White Sox as Andrew Vaughn doubled and scored on a double on the next pitch by Leury Garcia. Nick Madrigal, the ninth man to bat, added a single to right to make it 6-0, sending Plesac to a very early shower.
Trevor Stephan came in and plunked Eaton before getting Robert to fly to center.
Stephan worked around a two-out single by Mercedes in the second before the Sox slammed the door the rest of the way shut on the Tribe’s chances of rallying on Wednesday night. After a flyout by Vaughn, Garcia drew a walk and moved to third on a single by Madrigal. Eaton struck out swinging for the second out with Stephan’s final pitch, but the Sox jumped on Phil Maton quickly. Robert hit a ground-rule double to the left field corner to plate a run, Abreu walked, and Moncada was hit by pitch to force in another run to make it 8-0. Mercedes popped to shallow second to leave the bases loaded.
Maton pitched a perfect fourth and Cal Quantrill did the same in a 1-2-3 fifth, but the Sox threatened against him in the sixth. Abreu led the inning off with a walk and moved to second one out later on a single by Mercedes, his third hit of the night. Collins flied to left before Vaughn grounded into a fielder’s choice force at second.
Oliver Perez made his second appearance of the season, giving up a one-out single to Madrigal, his third hit, in an otherwise uneventful inning. Bryan Shaw struck out a pair in an easy eighth against the heart of the order.
Plesac took the loss and was charged with six runs on seven hits in just two-thirds of an inning for his second loss of the season. Stephan was charged with two runs on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts in two innings. Maton gave up a hit and a walk with a strikeout in an inning and one-third, Quantrill allowed a hit and walk in two innings, and Perez gave up a base knock while striking out one in his first full inning of work on the year.
Mercedes led the way for the Sox with a 3-for-5 day at the plate, hitting his third homer of the campaign and driving in three to push his season batting average to .500. Madrigal added three hits in four trips out of the nine-hole. Robert reached twice on hits and Abreu drew a pair of walks in an 0-for-3 day. Collins, Rodon’s battery mate, was the lone Sox player kept off base.
The Indians (6-5) will look to salvage the series against the White Sox (6-6) in a quick turnaround at 2:10 PM ET Thursday afternoon. Aaron Civale (2-0, 2.45 ERA) will look to get Cleveland back into the win column, while his offense will look to get into the hit column against tough right-hander Lance Lynn (1-0, 0.00 ERA).
Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images