ANAHEIM, Calif. — He realizes how big the last start was toward his development but Carlos Rodon said Tuesday he’d trade it for a team victory.
The White Sox rookie made perhaps the best start of his career on Monday night, pitching efficiently en route to the first complete game of his career. Attacking hitters first and working ahead in the count, Rodon only allowed two runs and four hits in a 104-pitch effort, his second straight start against the Los Angeles Angels.
But Rodon said the sting of a 2-1 loss makes it trickier to accept the praise his manager and teammates had for the effort.
“It’s hard to go back and look over after losing a close ballgame because like anybody else on this team, we really want to win and we need to win,” Rodon said. “It’s tough to go back and look at ‘Hey, you actually did well.’ But you’re not worried about that because you really just want to win. You’re trying to go at it for your team.”
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Even though he faced the Angels for the second time in six days, Rodon was in control the entire way. He got ahead of hitters earlier with his fastball, which made life easier, catcher Tyler Flowers said. Rodon also threw 13 changeups, including nine for strikes.
“That’s big for him, it opens up the slider/changeup mix later in the count,” Flowers said.
Rodon also pitched unafraid, Robin Ventura said. After he gave up the first of two solo homers — Albert Pujols homered in the second inning — the prized rookie quickly bounced back with a strikeout and two weak grounders.
“He got right back in the strike zone, didn’t let it affect him,” Ventura said.
The homers may not have bothered him, but the rookie said his up and down season hasn’t been as easy to digest.
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Back at North Carolina State, Rodon could get by with subpar stuff and strike out 10. He went 25-10 with a 2.24 ERA in college, striking out 436 batters in 346 innings en route to becoming the third overall pick of the 2014 draft.
Life was easy.
Rodon — who is 5-5 with a 4.42 ERA in 20 games (17 starts) with 54 walks and 106 strikeouts in 99 2/3 innings — expected to struggle in the majors, but he couldn’t fully grasp the concept.
Like being told he pitched one of his best games only to end up with a tough loss.
“This game will humble you real quick,” Rodon said. “It’s different. I never really experienced losing or getting hit around like that before. It’s just a step you’ve got to take and take it with a grain of salt and move on and those things happen. You give lumps and you take lumps, even the best do. This game is a funny game and that’s the way it goes.
“Sometimes you go back to thinking, ‘Maybe this pitch or that pitch,’ and it’s hard not to do that, to go back and look at stuff. But I threw well and on to the next is the way you’ve got to look at it. It’s behind me.”