CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Carlos Rodon was at his absolute best when the southpaw threw eight scoreless innings and struck out 11 when beating the American League Central champion Indians in Cleveland on Sunday.
"I would say the first seven hitters were better than that," said a smiling Ventura after the White Sox claimed a 7-3 win over the Twins behind Rodon on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Those first seven Minnesota hitters put Rodon, 23, in the Major League record book, as Rodon struck out all seven. Rodon tied Joe Cowley for the most consecutive strikeouts to start a game in the AL, which Cowley accomplished for the White Sox in Texas on May 28, 1986.
In the process, Rodon tied the franchise record for most consecutive strikeouts at any point in a game. Houston's Jim Deshaies, who is currently broadcasting for the Cubs, and the Mets' Jacob deGrom hold the Major League record with eight strikeouts to start a game.
Rodon struck out the side in his last inning thrown against the Indians, giving him 10 straight strikeouts when factoring in Friday's effort. The last pitcher to strike out 10 consecutive hitters before Rodon was the Dodgers' Eric Gagne in 2003.
That streak came to an end Friday when Logan Schafer doubled to right with one out in the third.
"You've just got to throw strikes, go right at them. When you strike out those guys, you know they're going to swing early. So just go right at them, let them make contact," said Rodon, who fanned 10 over six innings. "It's nice. I wasn't expecting it this soon I guess. That's great. Just glad we won."
"He was throwing a lot of strikes. The slider was perfect today," said White Sox catcher Omar Narvaez, whose first career homer supported his pitcher. "He was at his best today."
"The game got off to a rough start," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "We didn't do a lot offensively. Rodon was really good obviously with all the strikeouts to open the game. It was impressive."
"With the first couple of hitters you see it come out of his hand, it looks different. It's electric," Ventura said. "You know he's got good stuff. You just want him to locate. When he starts doing that, you look around and he's buzzing through the first couple of innings the way he is, everybody perks up and pays attention."
Friday's effort completed a strong comeback for Rodon, who finished 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA after sitting at 2-8 with a 4.67 ERA following a July 31 loss against the Twins at Target Field.
"Just hopefully pick up where we left off this year [in 2017]," said Rodon, who struck out 168 over 165 innings. "Have a complete season and start off strong, finish strong."