Carlos Rodón rode high in April. One start into May, he hasn’t been shot down.
Instead, Rodón shut down the Royals over six innings, handing it off to the preseason paint-by-numbers trio of Codi Heuer, Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks, the last of whom withstood a shaky ninth to complete the shutout.
Rodón moved to 5-0, lowered his ERA to 0.58 and tied franchise history in the process.
He also helped extend Kansas City’s losing streak to six games. With Cleveland getting no-hit for the second time this season — Cincinnati’s Wade Miley followed in Rodón’s footsteps — the White Sox moved into sole possession of first place by a half-game.
Rodón worked around a smattering of five singles, but he scattered them across four innings, and thus only dealt with a runner in scoring position in one frame. He reached back and found two of his eight strikeouts to extinguish that fourth-inning threat, and he didn’t exhaust his tank. He threw two more innings, and in his final battle of the night, he summoned 98 on his eighth and ninth pitches to strike out Jorge Soler.
The White Sox offense took a worrisome amount of time coming around on Brad Keller. The fan foe entered the game with an 8.06 ERA, but kept the Sox hitless through four, allowing nothing but a first-inning walk to Adam Eaton.
Zack Collins finally put something in the hit column in the fifth, and it also contributed to the run column. After fighting off two tougher fastballs to remain in a 1-2 count, Collins got a third consecutive fastball that found the outer half of the plate, and Collins launched it 430 feet to center for a solo shot and a 1-0 lead.
The Sox tacked on two more when the batting order swung around for a third time in the sixth. Tim Anderson rifled a double off the base of the right-field wall with one out, then scored when Eaton punched a single into left field. Two batters later, José Abreu came through with a picturesque slicer that bisected the left-center gap that scored Eaton all the way from first.
The Sox mounted rallies in later innings, none of which resulted in runs. Further insurance didn’t seem necessary when Heuer and Bummer handled their respective innings, but Hendriks immediately ran into trouble. He gave up a double to Sal Perez, his fourth hit of the night, followed by catcher interference by Collins that brought the tying run to the plate. Hendriks bounced back with a couple of strikeouts, but Michael A. Taylor kept the inning alive with a single that Anderson smothered in center field, which preserved the shutout, yet the winning run still came to the plate.
Fortunately, Nicky Lopez represented that winning run, and the guy with the .302 lifetime slugging percentage hit a flare into shallow center that Anderson flagged down to end the game.
*Rodon’s fastball was enough to get by, accounting for 10 of his 14 swinging strikes. The changeup wasn’t nearly as much of a threat, as it was victimized for four of the five hits he allowed. That said, he still managed to complete six innings on just 92 pitches, so that fastball is something else.
*Eaton’s single ended an 0-for-20 skid. He also made a sliding catch on a 104-mph sinking liner that previous White Sox right fielders might’ve botched.