Carlos Rodon of the White Sox pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 18, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) | Getty
Yordan Alvarez’s RBI double against Garrett Crochet in the ninth gives the Astros their second win in as many nights against the Sox.
HOUSTON — White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon pitched a no-hitter against the Indians in April and flirted with another one Sunday against the Tigers.
Facing the Astros, the best-hitting team in baseball, he didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning Friday.
It’s safe to say what Rodon has done this season — pitch like a no-doubt All-Star — is authentic.
‘‘Incredible,’’ assistant pitching coach Curt Hasler said before Rodon allowed one run in seven innings in his 12th start of the season, lowering his ERA to 1.83. ‘‘He’s had a miraculous turnaround.’’
The Sox (43-27) eventually lost 2-1 on an RBI double by Yordan Alvarez against reliever Garrett Crochet with one out in the ninth, their second defeat in as many nights against the Astros (41-28).
‘‘That’s as close as you can get to playoff atmosphere,’’ Rodon said. ‘‘It was fun to be out there, but it was a tough loss.’’
The Sox had five hits in the first two innings but only one run — on an RBI single by Jose Abreu in the first — to show for it. They had one hit after the third.
Rodon struck out eight and allowed three hits and three walks.
‘‘It’s been fun to watch,’’ Hasler said. ‘‘You’ve seen flashes of it in the past, but he’s put it together. We’ve always said if Carlos is healthy, he’s a good pitcher.’’
Rodon has been on the injured list at least once in each of the last five seasons. He looks healthy this season, however, and showed it with his pitch count at 103 with two on and one out in the seventh. After pitching coach Ethan Katz made a visit to the mound, Rodon gathered himself before getting Myles Straw to hit into an inning-ending double play.
‘‘I was pretty tired in the seventh, and they said, ‘Can you get me one more?’ ” Rodon said. ‘‘And I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ ”
Rodon’s other tight spot came during a 30-pitch fifth. A one-out cue shot by Alvarez broke up a perfect game. With the bases loaded, Rodon struck out Straw looking for the second out before walking No. 9 hitter Martin Maldonado to tie the score 1-1.
Rodon then struck out red-hot Jose Altuve on a 3-2 slider, let out a loud yell as he skipped off the mound and returned to retire Chas McCormick, Michael Brantley (three-pitch strikeout) and Yuli Gurriel in order in the sixth.
‘‘You see him start out at 94 and 95 [mph] and then 96, 97,’’ Hasler said. ‘‘And there’s a 100 popping in there in the sixth or seventh inning. That shows health and durability.’’
On Sunday, Rodon took a no-hitter into the seventh at Detroit. On Friday, he dominated against the team with the lowest strikeout rate and the highest numbers in runs, hits, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS in the majors.
‘‘He’s just been dialed in,’’ catcher Zack Collins said. ‘‘Everything is working for him.’’
Codi Heuer pitched a perfect eighth before manager Tony La Russa went to Crochet in the ninth. He was saving closer Liam Hendriks for a save situation, he said.
Left fielder Andrew Vaughn was hit in the face with a throw from the outfield while sliding into second base in the sixth and left the game in the eighth. La Russa said Vaughn’s eyes were watering ‘‘and he was having trouble seeing.’’ He’s listed as day-to-day.
The Sox were probably more worried about Vaughn than they were about a one-run loss to a good team.
‘‘I don’t think we are worried at all,’’ Collins said. ‘‘It happens, and I don’t think anybody is pressing. I don’t think anybody is worrying we aren’t going to come back and score runs. Just look to tomorrow and leave this one behind.’’