10:52 PM ET
Jesse RogersESPN Staff Writer
- Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers MLB for ESPN.com.
Rodon, 28, threw 114 pitches in the complete game, looking as strong at the end of the contest as he did at the beginning. One of his final pitches hit 98.8 mph — the hardest he has thrown a ball since 2016.
“I can’t believe it,” Rodon said on the game telecast afterward. “It’ll be hard to top this one.”
With one out in the ninth inning, Rodon hit Roberto Perez in the foot, ending his chance at perfection. But he then got Yu Chang looking for strike three and Jordan Luplow on a ground out to third base. Rodon was mobbed by teammates, including catcher Zack Collins. The two played against each other in high school in Florida.
“That was the most incredible thing I’ve ever been part of behind the plate,” Collins said. “I was about as nervous as I’ve ever been back there.”
Rodon’s baseball journey has been filled with disappointment, mostly tied to injuries, including Tommy John surgery in 2019. He was the third overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft but was non-tendered by the White Sox this offseason only to sign back with them on a one-year deal for $3 million. He never thought about signing anywhere else.
“They knew I had something to prove,” Rodon said of the White Sox. “They knew I was hungry. … I’m blessed to be able to play this game. I was non-tendered. A lot of people were out on me. It’s a special moment, and a lot of people should be proud because they helped me do this.”
Rodon threw more fastballs than usual, as his stuff was “electric,” according to Collins. The breakdown included 57 four-seam fastballs, 28 sliders, 26 changeups and three curveballs.
It was the slider that got away in the ninth inning that momentarily deflated the 7,148 in attendance. Rodon said he had a bad feeling once the pitch that hit Perez left his hand.
“I threw it, and it just took off like one of those snakes, and I go, ‘Oh, there goes the toe ball,'” Rodon said. “You hear that ‘clunk,’ and I was like, ‘Motherf—er.’ All you can do is laugh about it. It wasn’t meant to be.”
Carlos Rodon speaks after he almost finished with a perfect game, but says he was lucky to get the no-hitter.
Collins was hoping Perez would get out of the way.
“I think he got hit more because he didn’t recognize the pitch,” Collins said. “Most of the time you recognize that pitch and move out of the way. He just didn’t see it. After that, we just moved on to get the no-no.”
Perez said: “To be honest, I really didn’t think he had a perfect game until I got hit. I thought he had a no-hitter going, but I really didn’t think he had a perfect game.”
Rodon is the sixth pitcher to throw a no-hitter with the sole blemish coming on a hit by pitch.
His outing was delayed two days; he was supposed to start Monday, but a stomach bug kept him out of the lineup. Rodon said he felt back to normal by Wednesday, leading to his historic night. His average fastball velocity increased as the game went on, starting at 93 mph and ending at 96.5 mph.
“You always have to leave a little bit in the tank,” Rodon said. “There are times I can reach back and grab it. The reason I had it there at the end is I didn’t get in any trouble all night.”
The no-hitter nearly came to an end during the at-bat before Perez. Josh Naylor opened the ninth inning with a slow roller to first baseman Jose Abreu, who barely got to the bag before Naylor did. The call on the field was ruled an out, which was upheld by video review.
Tony La Russa is now the first manager to oversee two no-hitters in the American League and two in the National League, having been in the dugout with Dave Stewart in 1990, Jose Jimenez in 1999 and Bud Smith in 2001.
Afterward, Rodon indicated he hadn’t checked his phone yet, but he knew there were many unread texts to get through. He was asked if he would be sending the ball from the final out to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
“Is that what people do?” he quipped. “I’ve never thrown a no-hitter.”