Carlos Rodon had a forgetful outing last Monday. But on Saturday, he got right back on track.
The White Sox left-hander pitched a solid 6 2/3 innings, recording seven strikeouts and only allowing two hits in the White Sox 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers in 11 innings at U.S. Cellular Field.
Even though Rodon didn’t log the win, he played a large part in helping the White Sox improve to 12-6 on the year. And he had some extra motivation, too.
In his last outing, Rodon allowed five runs, six hits and two walks while only recording one out before being pulled in a 7-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Not only was it the shortest outing of his career, but it was also the quickest exit by a White Sox starting pitcher since August 2003.
“After an outing like that you come out a little more focused. A little more juice,” Rodon said. “I was ready to go.”
An early exit on Monday meant a fresher body on Saturday, and it showed.
"He had a lot of rest from the last time,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I think when you get an early exit, you're motivated to go out there and throw.”
Coming into Saturday, Rodon didn’t switch up his approach. He went about his business as usual and stuck to his game.
“Nothing changed. Go about what we do,” he said. “I mean we got the same routine, and those things happen. Just part of baseball. Just part of it. Just go through with it.”
Rodon’s only mistake on Saturday came in the second inning, when he surrendered an Ian Desmond solo shot.
Other than that, Rodon was in control for most of the game.
After Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor singled to start the third inning, 14 of the next 16 batters Rodon faced went hitless. The other two reached on walks.
“He was throwing strikes. When he’s throwing strikes, he’s going to be really good. That’s the bottom line,” catcher Alex Avila said. “He’s got great stuff, good movement on his fastball. Everybody knows about his slider. He’s been getting the changeup in there as well over the past few starts. When he’s throwing strikes, he’s going to be really good.
“Today he was working both sides of the plate really well with his fastball, got a few strikeouts there with the slider late in the counts to some of those guys. For him, if he’s commanding in the zone, he’s going to get a lot of guys out.”
In the seventh inning, Rodon was pulled for Jake Petricka after striking out Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland for the second out. He exited with Desmond at first.
The White Sox put the rest of the game into the hands of their bullpen, which had an ERA of 2.34 entering Saturday, good for third-best in the league.
“It’s tough to come out in a situation like that, but you gotta trust your bullpen,” Rodon said. “(Elvis Andrus) hits a triple off Petricka — great arm, man. He’s come in for me multiple times and saved the day. I trusted him a lot.”
The White Sox took back the lead in the eighth by adding a pair, but the Rangers tacked on a run themselves to put the game into extras.
The White Sox found a way to battle back to win it in the 11th with a walk-off single by Jose Abreu, who came to the plate with only two hits in his last 35 at-bats.
“That’s the guy you want to get the hit,” Rodon said. “Hopefully that turns it around for him. Hit like that gets stuff going for guys like that. We all know he’s better than that.”
Rodon was better than what he showed, too. And while he won't have any motivation to rebound from a poor start his next time out, he'll now get the chance to build on Saturday's promising showing.
“Play the game the right way,” Rodon said. “Just hustle and play hard.”