Carlos Rodón sets career high in innings

Staff report


SAN FRANCISCO — Go ahead and exhale, Giants fans. Carlos Rodón is fine, aside from a blister and a cracked fingernail that have come and gone all season.

Rodón surpassed his career high in innings during a 4-1 victory against the Braves at Oracle Park on Wednesday afternoon, but he made the faithful sweat for a spell when he departed after five innings with only 71 pitches thrown and two hits allowed.

It was easy to think the worst, because Rodón has a long injury history. Was it his left shoulder again? Was it the left elbow that required Tommy John surgery in 2019? Anything like that would have come at a terrible time for Rodón, who is expected to opt out of his contract after the season and test free agency as one of the top starters on the market.

Blisters are painful, but not the kind of pain that can cost a potential free agent millions of dollars.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Rodón hypothetically could have continued had the Giants been playing for something, but pulling him in this situation was a no-brainer. The only folks who might have disagreed were the Mets, who are clawing to stay atop the National League East with the Braves breathing down their necks.

“We felt like where we were in the season, it was the right decision to get him out of there,” Kapler said. “Obviously he pitched great. He was throwing well at the time of his exit.”

Before his team captured the series finale, Kapler said that doing what’s “best for the Giants in isolation” would trump any impacts a decision might have on another team’s postseason race.

Rodón’s goal before he goes home for the winter is simple.

“I just want to make the rest of my starts,” he said. “That’s all I want to do.”

That would provide Rodón three more shots to extend his career-high innings total (167 2/3) and stay in contention with Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes for the NL strikeout title.

Rodón took the lead in the see-saw battle with eight strikeouts against the Braves, giving him 220 to Burnes’ 214, but the reigning NL Cy Young winner pitched in St. Louis later on Wednesday night.

Rodón said he started feeling the blister and the cracked nail in the second inning, although catcher Austin Wynns and Atlanta’s stacked lineup hardly noticed.

“He probably didn’t feel it until it slowly progressed,” Wynns said, “but he’s an animal, man. He just gets after it every day.”

Rodón has taken the loss or a no-decision in several starts this year amid a lack of offensive support, bullpen lapses and inconsistent defense behind him.

Wynns drove in three of the Giants’ four runs with a pair of two-out singles, one against starter Charlie Morton, the other off reliever Jesse Chavez.

The Giants played near-flawless defense that included stellar plays by Brandon Crawford and Mike Yastrzemski. Also, relievers Tyler Rogers, Scott Alexander, John Brebbia and Camilo Doval combined for four scoreless innings.

Doval struck out Austin Riley, Matt Olson and William Contreras in order in the ninth for his 23rd save.

Many Giants players have things to prove over the final few weeks. At the same time, they have to play well enough to prove to pending free agents — likely including Rodón — that the team’s core is capable of playing winning baseball. That hasn’t been the case for much of the 2022 season.

“I think we’re more than capable of being a winning team,” Rodón said. “Unfortunately, the way it’s gone this year has been up and down for us. We’ve kind of been behind often, but as of late we’ve played really well. It’s good to see it showing now.”

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