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Carlos Rodón wins sixth straight start for Yankees, putting his miserable first season in New York behind him

NEW YORK — Carlos Rodón has put his miserable first season with the Yankees behind him and pitched like the All-Star New York expected when the left-hander signed an eight-year, $162 million contract.

Rodón retired his first 16 batters and won a career-best sixth straight start on Wednesday night, helping the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 9-5 for their seventh straight victory.

“So many times we want to write a script about someone,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “One thing Reggie Jackson always said to me is that he always felt like his bat – that was his pen. He could always change the story. He could always write the last story.”

Rodón is 8-2 with a 3.08 ERA, striking out 71 and walking 20 in 73 innings with a .217 opponent batting average. The 31-year-old southpaw has 39 strikeouts on sliders, 24 on fastballs, six on changeups and two on cutters.

“All of his pitches were effective today, so it’s not just one thing he did. They were all working. I think they played well against each other,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We were kind of flailing before we knew what he was coming up with.”

Rodón struggled in his first spring training last year and was diagnosed with a strained left forearm. He was slowed by back stiffness in April, received an injection on May 9, and did not resume bullpen sessions until May 29.

After three minor league games from June 20 to July 1, Rodón made his Yankees debut on July 7 and lost his first three starts. He finished 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA in 14 starts, the lasting image of his season finale in Kansas City on September 29. Rodón allowed all eight batters he faced to reach base and ultimately scored in a 12-5 loss.

When pitching coach Matt Blake emerged from the dugout in an attempt to get him on track, the two exchanged a few words before Rodón turned his back on Blake and motioned for him to return to the dugout, even though the coach still talking.

“I was obviously very frustrated with my performance and even with the attitude I had when I left the season,” Rodón said. “It made me hungrier going into the offseason. All I want is to win and I want to perform well for my teammates. I don’t want to let my teammates down.”

They tried to cheer him up.

“It’s not like something magical that you can say that will make it all better,” Yankees CEO Gerrit Cole said. “I think it’s just the everyday aspect of connecting with him on a human level.”

Rodón had a normal spring training this year before his 10th big league season, during which he made five starts and threw 19 1/3 innings. He didn’t get a decision in his first two appearances of the season and then started to find his feet.

“Everyone still knew the guy we signed was still there. I just had to be patient,” closer Clay Holmes said. “There was still some of that trust deep inside.”

Since allowing seven runs in a loss to Baltimore on May 2, Rodón has a 2.48 ERA, part of a Yankees staff that leads the major leagues with a 2.79 ERA.

“You go through moments in your career where you get your lunch handed to you,” Boone said, “but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story, especially when you have skills like Carlos. And to his credit, last year definitely did not go well. but he set to work to ensure he put himself in a great position to give himself a chance at success.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

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