“Just Day 1, man. You’ve got to get ready for five days from now,” said Rodón, during a Zoom from Boston on Friday afternoon prior to the postponement of Game 1 of a four-game set at Fenway Park. “One hundred and  pitches, I was like, ‘I’ve got to get going, got to get this blood moving, because I’ve got to get ready for the next start.’ It’s not the last start of the year.”
Actually, it was just the second of a total of 33 to 35 starts Rodón would like to reach by the conclusion of the 2021 season. But it was a milestone putting his injury-riddled recent seasons in the rearview mirror.
Rodón retired the first 25 Cleveland batters before hitting Roberto Perez in the foot with a 1-2 slider. Then Rodón struck out Yu Chang and set down Jordan Luplow on a grounder to third baseman Yoán Moncada at 99.4 mph exit velocity to begin the celebration.
Lucas Giolito no-hit the Pirates in 2020 with one walk and 13 strikeouts, vs. the seven strikeouts for Rodón. A no-hitter is a no-hitter, as Rodón said, with no comparisons needed. It doesn’t matter how a pitcher gets there.
“I’m blessed, say thank you,” Rodón said. “Thank the baseball gods and move on.”
There was one major difference between Giolito’s and Rodón’s pitching work of art. Rodón threw his in front of 7,148 fans at Guaranteed Rate Field, vs. an empty stadium for Giolito, and it made a decided difference.
“Oh, for sure,” Rodón said. “[Pitching coach] Ethan [Katz] and I were talking about it in the dugout, I think it was about the sixth or seventh, it might’ve been in the eighth. I was like, ‘Man, I’ve been getting so geeked because of these fans, you can hear them.’
“He goes, ‘That’s good, use that energy, focus that energy. Get yourself calm and use that energy in the pitch.’ You could just feel it. It was pretty awesome. It would’ve been awesome if there was 30,000, but I’ll take the 7,000 over anything, because last year we had none. It was quite the treat to have some people watching. Hell, it sounded like 30,000 to me. It was pretty loud.”
Ashley Rodón, Carlos’ wife, was in attendance, as was his young daughter, Willow, and young son, Bo. Rodón exchanged texts with Trea Turner of the Nationals and Brett Auston, both close friends and former teammates at North Carolina State. Rodón still had countless congratulatory texts to view as of Friday afternoon.
That list includes Elliott Avent, his head coach with the Wolfpack. But the duo exchanged texts the day of the no-hitter.
“Elliott text me and said, ‘Are you all right?’ because he knew I had the stomach thing going on,” Rodón said. “I said, ‘Hey man, I’m good.’ He said, ‘Good, now go shove.’
“He said something about we were trying to get [Zach] Plesac to come to State and I said, ‘Yeah, he’s pretty good.’ That was that. I went out there and threw a no-hitter. I haven’t reached out to him yet. I’ll get to him.”
Plesac did not make it through the first, allowing six runs on seven hits in Wednesday’s 8-0 loss to the White Sox. Meanwhile, Rodón was cruising through Cleveland’s batting order.
Of his 114 pitches, Rodón threw 57 four-seam fastballs, 28 sliders, 26 changeups and even dropped in three curves. He’s becoming a true three-pitch pitcher, which will carry him toward extended success well beyond the no-hitter.
“I think he can be really good, he could be one of the best pitchers in the AL, or baseball, if he stays healthy,” said Katz of Rodón. “He showed that last time. He’s been showing that with everything he’s done up to this point. He’s been working his butt off to get to this point. He’s putting in the work and that’s all he can do. I’m thrilled for him, where he’s at right now.”
“It goes back to all the stuff I’ve done in the offseason, the velo belt, the lower half, all those things that go into this,” Rodón said. “And then the rest is doing the things I need to do to stay durable. Sometimes it’s out of my control. Just keep chugging along, take it pitch by pitch and post every start, go from there.”