Carlos Rodon is excellent, White Sox are victorious against Cardinals
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White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon might be younger than you think.
‘‘Everybody thinks I’m older than I am,’’ said Rodon, 25. ‘‘I guess it’s because I showed up when I was 22 years old.’’
Rodon, who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, was pitching for the Sox as a 22-year-old in 2015, going 9-6 with a 3.75 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings.
He was in some good company among left-handers in the Sox’ rotation that season and had visions of keeping up with them for years to come. But Chris Sale and Jose Quintana would get traded, leaving Rodon — who had encountered some arm problems — to be the Sox’ potential ace of the future.
‘‘I was behind guys like Sale and Quintana,’’ Rodon said. ‘‘Those guys were elite guys. Trust me, I wish I accomplished all they
accomplished, but that’s not what happened. That’s behind me, and I don’t care about that anymore. Shoulder surgery, less starts. It is what it is. Today is the new day.’’
Making his seventh — and best — start since having surgery on his left shoulder in September, Rodon (2-3, 3.56 ERA) used his elite slider, an effective changeup and a four-seam fastball that touched 97 mph to pitch 7 1/3 innings in the Sox’ 4-0 victory Wednesday against the Cardinals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Rodon, who allowed three hits, entered the game with 411 career strikeouts — the most of any Sox pitcher through his first 72 games — and added seven more.
Sale and Quintana are gone, but Rodon is still here. He has bounced back from shoulder surgery and is a key part of the Sox’ rebuild, possessing the stuff of an ace and still being young enough to be a significant part of their rotation for years to come.
‘‘He is already an ace,’’ catcher Omar Narvaez said. ‘‘Every time he comes down, he is an ace.’’
It has been a trying year for the Sox (31-61), but Rodon said the clubhouse remains tight on a team that has made enough mistakes — second baseman Yoan Moncada was doubled off second on a liner to left by Jose Abreu in the first and later made what could have been a costly error — to make things testy on occasion.
‘‘Nobody points fingers in here; it’s a team,’’ Rodon said.
Working with little margin for error, Rodon kept a 1-0 lead safe after Matt Carpenter doubled with one out in the sixth. Pounding the inside corner with his fastball, Rodon got Tommy Pham looking at one for strike three before retiring Jose Martinez on a tapper to the mound for the third out.
Tim Anderson drove in the Sox’ first two runs on a forceout in the fifth and an RBI double in the seventh. He then scored on a single by Charlie Tilson.
Moncada’s error on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder and a four-pitch walk to Carpenter loaded the bases with one out in the eighth and ended Rodon’s night at 104 pitches (66 for strikes).
Rodon would excuse Moncada, tapping him on the jersey before he left the mound, but he broke a bat and knocked over an electric fan in the dugout after getting pulled. Chalk it up to the competitor in him.
‘‘I walked Carpenter again; that kind of [ticked] me off a little bit,’’ Rodon said. ‘‘He had some good at-bats against me, and I got frustrated over that. [Manager] Ricky [Renteria] made a move to the pen, and the boys picked me up.’’
Juan Minaya came on to strike out Pham before Joakim Soria, who earned a four-out save, struck out Martinez.
‘‘I felt pretty good,’’ Rodon said. ‘‘Good plan. Lot of ground balls [13 for outs]. Good defense out there. Boys hit the ball, and it was a pretty good, complete game.’’