Carlos Rodon went through elbow surgery two years ago and shoulder issues last year. The White Sox non-tendered him last offseason and then re-signed him about two weeks before the start of spring training.
He was perfectly healthy for his second start of 2021, to the point he almost made history.
Rodon on Wednesday threw a no-hitter against Cleveland, beating the Tribe 8-0 on a 45-degree night in Chicago. He came up two outs short of becoming the 24th MLB pitcher to throw a nine-inning perfect game.
Unfortunately for him, he lost the perfecto when he hit Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez on the foot with a breaking ball with one out in the ninth. Perez did not make much of an effort to avoid the pitch but there was no argument from the White Sox.
After that, the 28-year-old left-hander struck out Yu Chang and retired Jordan Luplow on a ground ball to third baseman Yoan Moncada to complete the no-hitter. Rodon threw 114 pitches (75 strikes), his highest pitch count since throwing 116 on July 29, 2018 (per Baseball-reference.com).
Rodon almost lost his perfecto bid on the first batter of the ninth. Josh Naylor hit a slow bouncer to first baseman Jose Abreu, who slid into the bag to barely beat a diving Naylor. First base umpire Brian Knight, who was no Jim Joyce on this night, called Naylor out. A rapid replay review upheld the call.
“That was a hell of a play, man, hell of a play,” Rodon told the White Sox TV crew in an on-field interview.
Three batters later, Rodon had finished off the second no-no in MLB in less than a week. Joe Musgrove threw the first no-hitter in Padres history Friday night against the Rangers in Texas.
Rodon rejoined the Sox on Feb. 1 — he said it was a “pretty easy” decision to come back, knowing that Chicago was set up to win now — and then pitched his way into the rotation in spring training. Wednesday’s start was just his fourth since suffering the elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery in May 2019. He threw 95 pitches over five innings in his 2021 debut, April 5 vs. the Mariners.
“I’m happy I’m here again. I’m blessed,” he said.
Had he completed the perfect game, he would have joined Philip Humber (2012), Mark Buehrle (2009) and Charlie Robertson (1922) as White Sox hurlers who have accomplished the feat. He’ll gladly take the 20th no-hitter in franchise history instead (rotation mate Lucas Giolito no-hit the Pirates last Aug. 25).