Carlos Rodon of the Yankees pitches during the first inning against...

Carlos Rodon of the Yankees pitches during the first inning against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

By the sixth inning Sunday, it was empty-the-tank time for Carlos Rodon, and for the rolling Yankees — not to mention a grateful crowd of 41,041 — that was plenty.

Rodon had been feeling a little under the weather, enough so that his wife, Ashley, expressed a smidge of anxiety about him on social media. She no doubt was concerned as she watched him from behind the dugout on a sunny but cool afternoon in the Bronx.

No need to worry for Ashley or the Yankees. Sensing the finish line, Rodon summoned whatever was left for Korey Lee, who swung through three straight 98-mph fastballs for the final out of the sixth. With the fans roaring in appreciation and many on their feet, Rodon must have enjoyed the adulation, especially after how hostile this same building was only a year ago.

And then, only a few strides before disappearing down the steps, on this biggest of stages, Rodon took a moment to blow a kiss to Ashley, who was just a few rows away.

If anyone was wondering how comfortable Rodon is pitching in the Bronx during his second season with the Yankees, it’s certainly reflected in the numbers. But the confidence behind those impressive stats, the peace of mind you attain only when feeling truly at home, is what’s at the core of Rodon’s resurgence.

Rodon’s solid six innings (two runs, six strikeouts) laid the foundation for the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the White Sox on Sunday, continuing the uncanny performance of the rotation (minus Gerrit Cole, of course) and improving his Bronx ledger to 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in four home starts this season.

A year ago, Rodon — laboring under the pressure of a new $162 million contract and numerous injuries — went 1-4 with a 6.15 ERA at Yankee Stadium and was showered by boos.

It’s the same pinstripes now. Same No. 55 on his back. But this is not the same insecure pitcher from that first season. And Rodon didn’t even bother to disguise it when I asked him Sunday about comparing the two.

“I sit down in the dugout now and look around, and I feel pretty comfortable sitting in this stadium,” said Rodon, who improved to 5-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 10 starts. “And it’s funny you asked that because I thought about that the first month, in April . . .  I’m like, this doesn’t feel overwhelming anymore. This feels like home, which is nice. That makes a huge difference for sure.”

After Rodon’s nightmarish Yankees debut, everyone knew what awaited him this season as he returned to the scene of the crime — the perception that he stole all that cash from Hal Steinbrenner. Before Sunday’s game, manager Aaron Boone politely described the situation around Rodon as “noisy” based on his ’23 flop. It was more like a simmering hostility, and Rodon was the only one capable of turning off the stove burner.

Consider that done. Rodon again dialed up his effective fastball-slider combo but also increased his changeup mix (he threw 18 Sunday, getting seven swings-and-misses on the pitch). As a result, he’s allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his 10 starts this season (the Orioles tagged him for seven in Baltimore) and two or fewer in eight of those. He also has thrown at least six innings in five of his last six starts.

“All his pitches are working,” said Jose Trevino, who caught Rodon on  Sunday. “He looks strong, he’s healthy. We got a good Carlos out there.”

In other words, the Carlos they thought they signed a year ago.

It’s not surprising that it took him all this time to finally adjust to being a Yankee. As Jordan Montgomery famously said after getting traded to the Cardinals, “the pinstripes are heavy.” If Aaron Judge can get booed here in October after a 62-homer season, no one is immune, and Rodon instantly became a favorite target for the greater frustration brewing over the team’s poor performance last year.

But now he’s become emblematic of the franchise’s rebound, a key piece in a starting staff that has thrived without Cole — the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner — throwing a pitch. Tacking on Rodon’s gem Sunday, the rotation is 7-0 with a 0.80 ERA in its last seven starts dating to May 12. That includes throwing a minimum of six innings in each of those starts — a stunning stat in this era — with two or fewer runs, only the fifth time in the last 52 years such a feat has been accomplished in franchise history (and the first time since 2010).

For Rodon, it was harder than Sunday’s final line make it look. The White Sox took a quick 2-0 lead in the second inning by demolishing a pair of his fastballs. Corey Julks hammered one for a 396-foot homer and Zach Remillard drilled another off the leftfield wall for a run-scoring triple.

Trevino helped by picking off Remillard at third to end that threat, but Rodon had to bail himself out in the fourth inning after allowing a leadoff single and nailing Paul DeJong on the foot with a slider. He followed by whiffing Julks on a changeup, blowing a 98-mph fastball by a swinging Lee and freezing Remillard on a slider. Crisis averted, and another happy exit for Rodon after the 99-pitch effort.

“In this stadium, the fans expect a lot,” Trevino said. “He’s living up to that right now.”

And finally earning the chance to enjoy the experience, too.


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