Rodón impresses in a different way in no-hitter encore


There's more than one way to win a baseball game. And there's more than one way to show you're a changed pitcher, someone that can be relied upon in the chase for a championship.

That's what Carlos Rodón found out — and it's what the White Sox found out about him — Tuesday night.

Last time out, Rodón threw the 20th no-hitter in club history, dominating the Cleveland Indians and putting his name in the record books. Facing the same Cleveland lineup Tuesday night in Ohio, he did not not have the same kind of dominant stuff.

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It was apparent from the very start, when he walked the leadoff man to close out a nine-pitch at-bat. On a frigid night in Cleveland, Rodón, sleeveless as always, had to fight his way through five innings. But he did it, turning in a gutsy performance that was a different kind of impressive from the no-no he tossed a few days before.

"Definitely a grind," Rodón said after the game. "They grinded out some at-bats and put some at-bats together, drew some walks. They made it hard. Definitely it was not an easy start.

"It definitely wasn't easy. You could tell they were battling on every pitch. They just saw me the last time out, see me again six days later. It's not easy, but it's part of the job."

The no-hitter was marked by efficiency. Rodón flew through innings, and even after losing his perfect-game try with one out in the ninth, he polished off the no-no in 114 pitches.

Tuesday, Rodón was up to 20 following the first inning. He was at 41 after two. Then 65 after three.

But despite walks and defense-aided jams, he gutted his way out of it, allowing just two runs, only one of them earned, in five innings, nearly matching his pitch count from the no-hitter with 110 throws.

And it was necessary. The White Sox bullpen worked quite a bit the previous two days, first during the doubleheader Sunday and then after Lucas Giolito got just three outs Monday in Boston. Tony La Russa still called on five pitchers to relieve Rodón this night. But that he only needed to cover four innings' worth of outs was important.

"Knowing that I was having those drawn out at-bats, those long innings, I was just trying to go as deep as I could," Rodón said. "Unfortunately, it was five today. Fortunately, it was good enough."

"It wasn't an easy game for him. A lot of plus 'guts' marks," La Russa said. "We've talked about it, man. In this league, mental and physical toughness is what make productive pitchers and players. He's showing it."

Even in a game that didn't feature a dominant performance, Rodón again showed off the new version of himself that has been so impressive in the early going this season. Make it three strong starts for him to open the campaign and a 0.47 ERA to go along with 24 strikeouts in 19 innings of work.

The White Sox addressed the problem that knocked them out of the playoffs early last fall, trading for Lance Lynn to give them a third reliable starting-pitching option. But it'll take more than just three arms to win multiple postseason series and a World Series championship. Rodón is out to show they have more than just those three.

While throwing a no-hitter is something special, Rodón is looking to prove himself in a season's worth of starts, not just one remarkable one. Tuesday, he proved he can win another type of ballgame. And that's important as the White Sox continue on their quest for October glory.

"Today was a little shaky with command, but there are going to be plenty of starts like today," he said. "I'm sure this won't be the last one this year that's a grind where I walk a few guys or throw a lot of pitches in an inning.

"It's part of the game, and it's just something that you have to adjust to over every start. Some days, I'll be good. Some days, I won't have it. Some days, I'll have everything."

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