KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Carlos Rodon’s season started miserably. And that word doesn’t come close to adequately describing its ending.
On Friday night, the lefthander faced eight batters and was charged with eight runs without recording an out in a nine-run first inning for the Royals. Kansas City sent 14 to the plate in the inning en route to a 12-5 win over the Yankees in front of 18,374 at Kauffman Stadium.
“Just terrible,” Rodon said.
Rodon, signed to a six-year, $162 million free-agent contract during the offseason — only to start the season on the injured list with a forearm strain followed by back issues that kept him from debuting until July — finished his first season in pinstripes 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA.
Making a bad night worse, during a mound visit, Rodon all but showed up pitching coach Matt Blake by turning his back on him while Blake was speaking.
“I’m sure it was [seen as disrespectful toward Blake]. It wasn’t great. Definitely not the best move. Shouldn’t happen,” said Rodon, who after speaking to the media stepped into Aaron Boone’s office with the door closed behind him. “I was frustrated with myself and my performance. Really embarrassing, and then doing that with Matt coming out trying to help me, I turn my back. I was not in the right mind, that’s for sure, and that’s on me.”
Said Boone: “We want better mound presence there but also, the guy’s competing his [butt] off and it’s been a tough year for him. He’s trying to figure it out. He wants to do well.”
Eleven pitches into Rodon’s night, the Royals led 2-0 on a two-run double by Salvador Perez, and 13 pitches in, the Yankees were in a 4-0 hole after Edward Olivares’ two-run homer to left. Rodon was on his way to becoming the first starter in franchise history to allow eight runs without recording an out. He became the sixth pitcher to turn that trick in MLB history since 1901, according to the YES Network, with the Reds’ Paul Wilson doing it twice in 2003 and ’05. The last to do it had been the Mets’ Steven Matz in 2019.
After Olivares’ homer, Nelson Velazquez lined a single to center and Nick Loftin lined one to left. After Blake’s visit, Matt Duffy’s RBI single to center made it 5-0. Rodon, whose fastball velocity, typically in the mid-90s, was down several ticks, walked Logan Porter to load the bases. Boone had seen enough, pulling the plug at 35 mostly non-competitive pitches.
“Just didn’t have the life on his fastball and then location, just in the heart of the plate a lot, even with the secondary stuff,” Boone said. “A tough way for him to end [the season] . . . Obviously, a lot to work on this winter.”
After Rodon’s departure, Matt Bowman allowed a two-run double by No. 9 hitter Kyle Isbel. Maikel Garcia, who had started the onslaught with a single, singled sharply to center to make it 8-0 and officially close the book on Rodon, who allowed six hits and two walks. Even when the Yankees recorded their first out, Bobby Witt Jr., the 11th batter of the inning, delivered a sacrifice fly to center to make it 9-0.
The Yankees (81-79) trailed 10-0 before getting on the board in the fourth on a three-run homer by rookie Austin Wells (four RBIs) off Jordan Lyles (6-17, 6.28). In his last seven games, Wells is hitting .296 with four homers and nine RBIs.
Witt’s 30th homer, a two-run shot in the seventh, gave the Royals (55-105) a 12-5 lead.
The night, however, was entirely about Rodon, whose first season in the Bronx couldn’t have gone much worse.
Will this kind of year, shrouded in injury and poor performance, be an easy one to “flush,” as in quickly forget and put behind him?
“Whenever your performance is bad,” Rodon said, “it’s never easy to flush.”