White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu put a scare into his teammates preserving Carlos Rodon’s no-hitter in the ninth inning Wednesday night.
With Rodon three outs away from a perfect game, the Indians’ Josh Naylor led off the ninth with ground ball to Abreu’s right. Abreu gloved and ran for the bag, beating the head-first sliding Naylor by extending his right leg, exposing his knee and ramming his foot onto first base as Naylor came crashing in.
Naylor was called out on a close play that was reviewed.
“I see that slow chopper — and a hell of a hustle from Naylor, obviously,” Rodon said. “And then a hell of a play, the sliding tag into first, which freaked me out because I didn’t want him to blow out his knee. I was kind of concerned about that. But an unbelievable play. The play that led to the no-hitter. Without that play, we don’t get there.”
Rodon would lose his perfect game bid when he hit Roberto Perez on the foot with a 1-2 slider, but hold on for the no-hitter by striking out Yu Chang looking and retiring Jordan Luplow on a ground ball to third baseman Yoan Moncada.
The Sox (6-6), who haven’t played good defense this season, were crisp behind Rodon, though. Moncada made a good backhand stop on a ground ball by Franmil Reyes in the fifth, and shortstop Leury Garcia made a good play to his right on a smash off the bat of Perez in the sixth.
Left fielder Andrew Vaughn made five putouts, including one on a hard-hit liner by Jose Ramirez to end the seventh.
Catcher Zack Collins received a tip of the cap from Rodon, as well. Rodon couldn’t recall exactly but he was quite sure he didn’t shake off a pitch call from Collins all night.
“We were on the same page,” Rodon said. “I don’t think I shook at all. Whatever he put down, I was throwing. And you can tell, he’s vastly improved defensively catching.”
It was the first no-hitter Collins caught, he said.
“That was the most incredible thing that I’ve ever been a part of behind the plate,” Collins said. “I remember watching it last year with Giolito [during his no-hitter against the Pirates]. I was nervous on the bench last year, thinking about what [catcher James] McCann was doing and I felt it tonight. I was about as nervous as I’ve ever been back there.”
Sox manager Tony La Russa cited his team’s clean defensive game, and tipped his cap to the Indians, particularly Naylor going all out to break up the no-hitter in the ninth inning of an 8-0 game.
“Here it was the end of the game and that guy was competing and didn’t want his team to get no-hit,” La Russa said. “That’s the way the game I supposed to be played and he hustled and dove into the bag. But you had another champion over there at first base that knew exactly what was at stake and made the play. He came and got it and made the slide.
“It was great competitiveness all the way around. From our side, it’s the kind of support that Carlos had earned and deserved.”