Left-hander Carlos Rodon of the Chicago White Sox tossed the second no-hitter of the 2021 MLB season, just barely missing out on a perfect game Wednesday night in an 8-0 win over Cleveland.
“That was awesome. A whole team effort,” he told NBC Sports Chicago after the game. “I can’t believe it. I can’t.”
Rodon, who had his start pushed back two days because of a stomach bug, made the Cleveland hitters feel ill, inducing plenty of weak contact while striking out seven. But he lost the perfect game with one out in the ninth inning when he hit Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez in the foot.
Instead, Rodon had to settle for completing the no-hitter, which he did in striking out Yu Chang and getting Jordan Luplow out on a ground ball to third base for the final out.
Rodon was the third overall pick in the 2014 draft by the White Sox, but he’s battled injuries throughout his seven-year career.
He missed most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery in May 2019 and made only four appearances, pitching a total of 7⅔ innings.
The White Sox declined to offer him arbitration and allowed him to become a free agent, but brought him back on a one-year, $3 million contract with a chance to compete for a rotation spot in the spring.
He said the decision to return to Chicago was an easy one.
“I knew I was going to be on a winning team after being on those teams that scuffled a little bit in the beginning,” he said. “I just wanted to be here for the end of the rebuild. The winning part.”
He won the fifth starter’s job with a strong showing in spring training, allowing only two runs and striking out 16 over 13⅔ innings.
And he kept his momentum going in his first regular-season start with five shutout innings. But problems arose when he felt weak and sick to his stomach before he was scheduled to start Monday’s series opener vs. Cleveland.
“You could tell he was pale,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “The day after he was feeling better, regaining some strength. Then this morning there was no doubt that he was going to pitch. It was fast. That was kinda what we were hoping, it was just a 24-hour flu.”
On Wednesday, with two extra days of rest, Rodon (2-0) was economical enough with his pitches to take a perfect game into the ninth.
The inning provided plenty of drama when leadoff batter Josh Naylor hit a slow roller to first baseman Jose Abreu, who made the pickup and lunged for the bag just ahead of Naylor’s head-first slide.
Rodon recovered after hitting Perez, the next batter, to end his bid to throw MLB’s first perfect game since 2012. That season three pitchers — Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners, Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants and Philip Humber of the White Sox — accomplished the feat.
Humber is one of three White Sox pitchers in history to toss a perfect game, along with Mark Buehrle in 2010 and Charlie Robertson in 1922.
In all, he threw 114 pitches, 75 of them for strikes.
Rodon’s gem comes just five days after Joe Musgrove of the San Diego Padres tossed this season’s first no-hitter.