Carlos Rodon completes his road to redemption with a no-hitter

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Carlos Rodon, two years removed from Tommy John surgery and a few months after being non-tendered by the White Sox, throws the 20th no-hitter in franchise history

Carlos Rodon, the newest member of the Chicago White Sox no-hitter club, missed his chance at perfection on Wednesday by the width of a shoelace. But after where his career was just a few short months ago, he’ll gladly take it.

Rodon didn’t know if he’d be back with the White Sox, the team that drafted him third overall in 2014 and with whom he made his first 92 starts, this offseason. The White Sox non-tendered his contract before giving him a one-year deal with the chance to compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. And on a cool Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, he proved he still has something in that left arm.

Rodon was perfect for 25 straight batters against the Cleveland Indians. There were some close calls along the way. Roberto Perez hit a hard ground ball to shortstop in the sixth inning. With two outs in the seventh, Rodon fell behind Jose Ramirez 3-1 and threw a fastball that Ramirez lined 111 mph right at left fielder Andrew Vaughn. The White Sox scored six runs in the first inning and led 8-0, so the only drama left on this night was whether Rodon would finish the job.

Carlos Rodon overcame adversity against the Indians, and in life

Leading off the ninth inning, just three outs away from the 22nd perfect game in modern MLB history and fourth for the franchise, Rodon got another break that showed it just might be his night. Josh Naylor hit a ground ball to the right of first baseman Jose Abreu, who scooped up the ball before racing Naylor back to the bag. Naylor slid head-first, his right hand missing the bag while Abreu’s foot barely touched before his left.

The next batter was Perez, who quickly fell behind 0-2. Rodon sensed he was close; his three hardest thrown balls of the game were all in the ninth inning as he touched 98 mph with his fastball. After Perez fouled off a fastball, Rodon tried a slider in the dirt. But he threw it too far inside and the ball glanced off the top of Perez’s foot. A collective groan escaped from the 7,000 White Sox fans in attendance.

Rodon came back to strike out Yu Chang for the second out. Then, after an eight-pitch battle with Indians leadoff hitter Jordan Luplow, Rodon got him to ground out to third and his date with destiny was secured.

It almost wasn’t meant to be. Rodon underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2019. He’s pitched just 42 innings the past two years. He wasn’t guaranteed a spot in the White Sox rotation this season. He’s sure to stick there now.

“Take a hike,” Rodon said when asked what he would’ve said if you told him he would be in this spot a year ago.

“I don’t know, man. A lot of work. A lot of people. A lot of help went into this, to come back,” he told NBC Sports Chicago while receiving a Gatorade bath from his teammates. “I’m just happy I’m here again. I’m blessed man, I’m blessed.”

Rodon is the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the last five days, joining Joe Musgrove of the Padres on Friday. Musgrove had his own inspirational story, throwing the first no-hitter for his hometown team.

But baseball is like that. You never know what’s going to happen on any given night, or who fortune will smile on. Rodon is the one smiling tonight, and, after the long road he’s tread the last 23 months, he deserves this one.

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