The Red Sox won a baseball game! I know, crazy, right? Eduardo Rodriguez was the clear standout in this game, with the southpaw looking utterly dominant against the Tigers all night long. He really only felt like he was in actual trouble once all night long. Rodriguez had all of his pitches working wonderfully, with his changeup standing out above the rest. He was clearly starting to get some confidence as the night went on, showing off a little bit after a strikeout of friend Miguel Cabrera. Meanwhile, the offense got going a bit with runners on base. They didn’t break out or anything, as this game was close until the ninth, but I didn’t find myself pulling my hair out every inning. Progress!
Early on in the season through the first couple turns of the rotation, no Red Sox starter was as frustrating as Eduardo Rodriguez. He wasn’t the worst pitcher in the rotation nor was he the furthest away from his preseason expectations. Instead, what was so frustrating was the fact that everything that was going wrong was exactly had plagued him throughout his career. Specifically, he failed to attack hitters and refused to use his entire arsenal. We were all frustrated, and the coaching staff agreed. In his third start of the year, he dominated the Orioles, and while the results weren’t as strong the next time out against Tampa Bay he still looked better than he did early on. On Wednesday against the Tigers, the lefty looked incredible.
Rodriguez had everything working in this game, leaning heavily on his fastball but to great success. He didn’t even have great velocity on it, generally sitting in the 92-93 range, but Detroit’s hitters just couldn’t get a good read on it. When he snuck in the slider and a changeup that might have been as good as we’ve ever seen from him, and he dominated with all of those pitches working.
Really, there weren’t a whole lot of chances his first couple times through the Tigers lineup. He did allow a walk to the second batter he saw, but the runner was stranded. After that free pass, Rodriguez turned around and retired the next eleven batters he faced. Five of those eleven outs were strikeouts, too. In the fifth, he did get into his first bit of trouble of the evening. His consecutive out streak was broken when he walked Brandon Dixon to lead off the inning. A couple batters later, Gordon Beckham gave Detroit their first hit of the evening with a base hit, and the Tigers suddenly had two on with one out. Rodriguez slowed his tempo down, but the results were still there. He struck out Grayson Grenier and JaCoby Jones back-to-back to end the inning unscatched.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense was looking to bounce back after an absolutely brutal day on Tuesday, particularly in the nightcap. After going a dismal 1-12 with runners in scoring position in that second game, they sure wanted to take advantage of the first chance that came their way against Tyson Ross.
That chance came in the second when J.D. Martinez starting the inning with a solid single. Not wanting the inning to end before it began with a double play, they put the slugger in motion. That decision paid off because Xander Bogaerts hit a double play ball that only resulted in the single out at first. After that, Rafael Devers poked a single through the right side that inexplicably got under Beckham’s glove, and Boston had a 1-0 lead. After Devers was caught stealing second, Michael Chavis drew a walk in an at bat that started 0-2 and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a seeing-eye single that found its way through the shift. Boston kept up the aggression and ran a hit-and-run with Christian Vázquez at the plate that was executed perfectly. The catcher chopped one right where the second baseman should have been standing, scoring another run and giving Boston a 2-0 lead after two.
The offense died down a bit for the next few innings — except for a weird double from Martinez that got stuck between the garage door and the wall in left field’s foul ground — before picking up again in the fifth. There, Andrew Benintendi drew a leadoff walk and Mookie Betts followed it up with a huge double high off the wall in left-center field to knock in the run. It was a huge swing for the 2018 MVP after he struck out in each of his first two at bats. After Mitch Moreland drew a walk, Martinez drove in another run with his third hit of the day. Just like that, the offense had a 4-0 lead at the end of the fifth.
With a solid cushion built for himself now, Rodriguez was back to work in the sixth and things got off to a rough start. He allowed his first extra-base hit of the night to start the inning when Jeimer Candelario doubled to left-center field. After a walk and a deep fly ball, Detroit had runners on the corners with just one out. Rodriguez did allow one run to score on a sacrifice fly, but that was it. All things considered, it certainly could have been worse. That also marked the end of the night for the southpaw, as he finished with six strong innings in which he allowed just the one run on two hits, three walks and seven strikeouts.
Now, it was up to the bullpen to protect the three-run lead. First up was Brandon Workman. He did the job in the seventh, striking out three batters while issuing one walk that should have been a strikeout with a normal strike zone. The top of the order was then coming up for Detroit in the eighth, and Alex Cora turned to Matt Barnes. The righty struck out the first two batters he saw but then gave up a single and a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. The tying run then got to first base on a single that loaded the bases. Barnes came back in a big way, though, getting Ronny Rodriguez to strike out on three pitches and keep Boston’s lead at three.
After that, the Red Sox offense decided to make things a little easier. Chavis was hit by a pitch, then stole second and scored on a Christian Vázquez single. Andrew Benintendi would double to drive in another, three more would score on back-to-back-to-back bases loaded walks and then two more would come in on a Bradley Jr. RBI single. In the end, it was a 11-1 lead for Tyler Thornburg to finish off in the bottom half. He was not very good in the process, allowing three runs to score, but Boston still had the blowout win.
So, the Red Sox can salvage a split in this four-game set against the Tigers with a win in the series finale on Thursday. They’ll be sending Rick Porcello out to the mound to face off against Jordan Zimmermann. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.