Carlos Rodón of the Yankees throws in the first inning against the...

Carlos Rodón of the Yankees throws in the first inning against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Monday in Kansas City, Mo. Credit: Getty Images/Ed Zurga

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Carlos Rodon wasn’t just bad the last time he took the mound in this stadium. He was historically bad.

Rodon’s outing for the Yankees last Sept. 29 was the low point of his already miserable 2023 season. He became the first pitcher in franchise history to allow eight runs without recording an out, and the night was made even worse when he showed up pitching coach Matt Blake during a mound visit.

Things couldn’t have gone more differently Monday night.

Though Juan Soto’s return (albeit at designated hitter) commanded much of the pregame attention, the game itself was all about Rodon, who flummoxed the Royals in his seven innings in a 4-2 win in front of 24,038 at Kauffman Stadium.

Rodon allowed one run, five hits and no walks in improving to 9-2 with a 2.93 ERA, very much keeping his hopes of a third career All-Star bid alive.

“It’s hard to get that one out of your head,” Rodon said of last Sept. 29. “It was the culmination of the whole ’23 season [that] wasn’t so great. So that definitely motivated me.”

Rodon said Monday night’s game was “circled” on his calendar. “I knew this game was coming,” he said. “I wanted to show up and give my team the best chance to win after coming out of here last year and what happened. I definitely remembered that.”

Rodon took a 4-0 lead into the seventh before allowing three hits, including an RBI single by Freddy Fermin that made it 4-1.

In the eighth, Ian Hamilton allowed a leadoff infield single by Dairon Blanco and a two-out RBI double by Bobby Witt Jr. that made it 4-2. Hamilton struck out Salvador Perez swinging at an elevated 97-mph fastball to end the inning.

With Clay Holmes unavailable because of a hefty workload of late, Michael Tonkin — quietly terrific after the Yankees claimed him on waivers from the Mets in late April (a 0.89 ERA in 14 games) — walked Nick Loftin with one out in the ninth. Pinch hitter Vinnie Pasquantino flied out to deep center and MJ Melendez struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt to end it.

It has been some journey for Tonkin, who called it “chaotic.” He has been with the Twins, Mets and Yankees in 2024 and took the loss in his first Yankees outing on April 26 in Milwaukee after being claimed earlier in the day. When he made his Yankees debut, he had not met even half of his new teammates.

“The first month [April] was less than ideal,” Tonkin said of hopscotching from organization to organization. “But to be here now, it’s all worth it . . . It’s good to get in a groove and get comfortable and be in a position where I feel like I’m not going to get tapped on the shoulder after every game [to get designated for assignment]. All that kind of helps.

“As of late, I kind of feel like I’m kind of in a spot where I don’t have to fear too much of what could happen, but I obviously have to still go out there and do my job.”

Soto, who had not played since leaving Thursday night’s game against the Twins with left forearm inflammation, singled in his first at-bat in the opening inning and scored the first of the Yankees’ two runs in the inning.

Soto’s presence was felt almost immediately in a 26-pitch first for former Met Seth Lugo (9-2, 2.36), who allowed four runs, eight hits and a walk in seven innings.

With one out, Soto banged a full-count cutter back up the middle and Gleyber Torres lined a single to right. Alex Verdugo slashed an RBI single to left and DJ LeMahieu pushed a safety squeeze bunt up the first-base line for a 2-0 lead.

Jose Trevino’s two-out, two-run single to center in the fourth made it 4-0.

The Yankees (47-21) sent out a lineup without Soto in the field and without Aaron Judge, who played in the club’s first 67 games. Aaron Boone before the game said it was “just a night off” for the captain and that he will be back in the lineup Tuesday.

Soto was unsure if he will be in the field Tuesday. He said he didn’t feel anything Monday but later said the injury likely will require further maintenance.

“I’ve been doing a lot of treatments, I’ve been feeling good, I’ve been seeing a lot of improvement,” he said. “Definitely is not going to go away that quick, so we’ll keep working on it. We’re going to keep doing a couple of things for the next week and see how it goes after that.”  

Notes & quotes: “Just a night off,” Boone said of resting the red-hot Judge. “I’ve kind of been marking this one down. Obviously, he’s been playing out of this world, but having played every day, you get to this time of the year, you’re a little bit beat up too, so I think it’s important to give him, especially after getting in at 3 in the morning [after playing the Dodgers on Sunday night in New York], this was one I had marked down.”

Judge entered the day having hit seven homers in his last 10 games. In his previous 32 games, he had a .418/.542/1.055 slash line with 18 homers, 40 RBIs and a 1.597 OPS. Earlier in the day, he was named AL Player of the Week after going 10-for-20 with three homers, three doubles, a triple, seven walks, eight runs, 12 RBIs, a stolen base, a .630 on-base percentage and a 1.200 slugging percentage in six games.

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