The perfect game club nearly had a new member. A no-hitter ended being the consolation prize. White Sox starter Carlos Rodon has thrown a no-hitter and he was perfect through 8 1/3 innings. He hit Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez with a pitch on the foot with two strikes and one out in the ninth. That would end up being the only blemish for Rodon.
"On a toe ball," Rodon said after the game when asked where his head was at the moment, alluding to where the pitch hit Perez. Here it is:
He threw the no-hitter in an 8-0 White Sox win over Cleveland Wednesday night at Chicago's Guaranteed Rate Field. Rodon struck out seven, got lots of weak contact and saw a few hard-hit balls end up gloves of teammates. In the case of hard-hit balls, Jose Ramirez hit a line shot right at left fielder Andrew Vaughn to end the seventh inning. It was over 110 miles per hour and carried an expected batting average of .820, per Statcast. Rodon mentioned after the game that once that ball was caught, he had a feeling something special was happening.
The final out was well struck, too. Jordan Luplow hit a grounder 99.4 miles per hour, but third baseman Yoan Moncada had no problem with it at all, gloving it and making the throw to first base to secure the no-no. It capped a funky ninth that included a really close play at first base to start the inning, with the out call confirmed via video review.
Here's the final out and ensuing celebration:
Rodon is now the second pitcher of 2021 to throw a no-hitter after Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove did so last Friday. Notable here is both pitchers were just a hit-by-pitch away from a perfect game.
"I can't believe it," Rodon said after appearing to say 'holy crap' under his breath. "I really can't."
Rodon's journey here is a bit heart-warming. He underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2019 and returned for a tough 2020 (8.22 ERA in 7 2/3 innings). He was then non-tendered by the White Sox following the season, which is tantamount to being "cut." He sat on the free agency market all the way until February 1, when he ended up signing back with the White Sox on a one-year deal.
"Take a hike," he said with a laugh when asked if someone were to tell him during his rehab that he'd be back and throw a no-hitter.
Prior to this season, Rodon had appeared in 97 MLB games. He was 29-33 with a 4.14 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. While he shouldn't have been labeled a bust, the talent that justified the White Sox taking him third overall in the 2014 draft out of N.C. State hadn't really ever fully shown through.
So far in 2021, it is.
Former Marlins executive David Samson broke down the no-hitter on the latest Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
Rodon's first start was five scoreless innings against the Mariners, allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out nine. And now he adds a no-hitter to his ledger.
As for the rest of the game, the White Sox had full control from the get-go. After Rodon retired three Cleveland hitters in the first, the White Sox shelled Zach Plesac for the worst start of his career. He didn't even get out of the first inning, allowing six runs (all earned) on seven hits in just 2/3 of an inning.
Plesac's previous shortest start was 2 2/3 innings and the worst start of his career before Wednesday night came on June 29, 2019, when he coughed up seven runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Meantime, the White Sox continued to get absurd offensive production from rookie sensation Yermin Mercedes. His three-run blast in the first is what opened the floodgates:
The 28-year-old slugger has now started 10 games in his career and collected at least three hits in a game four times. After going 3-for-4, he's hitting .514/.561/.838 with 10 RBI.
Mercedes and the White Sox's offensive destruction of Plesac would've been the main story here, but Rodon stole the show instead.
The White Sox are the most prolific no-hitter team in the American League. Only the Dodgers with 26 have more no-hitters than the White Sox's 20. Rodon joins Bob Keegan, Joel Horlen, Joe Cowley, Wilson Alvarez, Mark Buehrle (twice), Philip Humber and Lucas Giolito as post-integration White Sox pitchers to throw a no-hitter, individually.
There have been just 23 perfect games thrown in baseball history and Rodon nearly made it 24. Still, don't let that near-accomplishment put a damper on the feel-good story here. Less than a year after the White Sox released him, Rodon has thrown a no-hitter.