The Red Sox are rolling right now, and after a blowout victory on Friday night they can now brag about being over .500 for the first time in 2019. Eduardo Rodriguez got the start for this series opener against Seattle, and he was brilliant. His changeup in particular was great but he was really mixing his pitches well all night and more importantly he was attacking hitters. After seven shutout innings here he’s got a 2.78 ERA over his last six starts with over a strikeout per inning. The Red Sox offense made sure to give him plenty of support, too, blasting three homers and plating ten runs on the evening. It was a good time, tbh.
Can you guess what I’m going to say about Eduardo Rodriguez and why he was able to pitch so well, again, on Friday night? The southpaw came out of the gate with efficiency and was mixing his pitches, and he was able to keep that going all night long. Rodriguez has clearly been a different pitcher since his first three outings of the year, and it’s hard to imagine Alex Cora’s public pleading for his young lefty to do both of those things.
He’s taken the challenge to heart and has seen big-time success since doing so. That continued against Seattle on Friday, which was notable because they crushed him in his first outing of 2019. Rodriguez set the tone right away with an easy, nine-pitch 1-2-3 inning in the first. He’d then come right back with another perfect frame in the second, this time needing 12 pitches to get the job done.
In the third he did allow his first hit of the night on a line drive single into center field from shortstop J.P. Crawford, who made it to second on a one-out ground out. He would be stranded there, though, as Rodriguez got a big three-pitch strikeout to end that inning. Any time he is getting strikeouts on three pitches, you know things are going well.
The lefty got into a little more trouble in the fourth, too. There he allowed a leadoff single to Domingo Santana, and then after recording a couple of outs he gave up another single to Jay Bruce which put runners on the corners. Again, Rodriguez got himself out of trouble however, this time on a fly out to center field.
Rodriguez would settle back in with a 1-2-3 fifth before looking like he may be in trouble again in the sixth. Santana blasted a leadoff double way out to center field that bounced around the triangle, but he’d be left there as Rodriguez settled in and avoided any more hits to let the run score. He’d have one more inning left him in the seventh, and there he did allow a couple of runners. No one scored, though, in large part because of a great play off the wall by Jackie Bradley Jr. to stop the runners in their tracks. In all, Rodriguez tossed seven shutout innings on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Now the onus was on the Red Sox offense to provide some support for their thriving starting pitcher. That was an issue in their last game on Wednesday when Chris Sale was cruising. Of course, Boston did win that one eventually but it took extra innings. They were out to make sure that wouldn’t be required here as well, this time going up against a rookie in Erik Swanson.
The former Yankees prospect had Boston’s number early in this game as he allowed just one runner to reach in the first, and that came on an error by Mariners third baseman Ryon Healy. He’d come back with a 1-2-3 inning in the second, too, and the Red Sox appeared to be carrying over their woes from earlier in the week into this weekend series.
In the third, things started to turn around and they did so with an improbable start. Jackie Bradley Jr. kicked things off this time with a double out to left field. An extra-base hit is nice enough for the struggling center fielder. That he went the other way with it, something he’s failed to do so often this year, was a huge development. Bradley would then move over to third on a Christian Vázquez ground out, allowing a Mookie Betts single up the middle to score the center fielder and give Boston a 1-0 lead. They wouldn’t stop there, either, as J.D. Martinez kept the inning going with a single of his own. That brought Mitch Moreland to the dish, and this man does not single. Instead, he launched a first-pitch fastball down in the zone out to straightaway center field for his eleventh homer of the year. Just like that, it was a 4-0 lead for the Red Sox.
Rafael Devers made sure to keep that going in the fourth, too. The third baseman has been red-hot for a few weeks now, but somewhat strangely hasn’t produced in the power department. Instead, it’s been a lot of base hits with some doubles mixed in. Given his improved approach, though, it’s only a matter of time until the power shows up in a big way. Perhaps it started here, because he led off that fourth inning by blasting a solo shot, giving his team a 5-0 lead.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Red Sox added a couple more in the following inning. Andrew Benintendi started this rally with a single, and then with two outs Moreland came through again, this time driving a double out to left field for his fourth RBI of the evening. Xander Bogaerts then kept the inning going with a base hit before Devers had his second RBI of the night with a base hit out to right field. That made it 7-0 in favor of the Red Sox, and the rout was on. Benintendi wasted no time adding on, either, as he blasted a solo homer in the sixth to extend the lead to eight. They’d add two more in the seventh, too, to make it 10-0.
In the Red Sox bullpen, it was Tyler Thornburg who got the eighth. Once again, he was not super sharp. He allowed a double and a triple in the inning to give Seattle their first run of the game. Boston would add four more to their total in the eighth before Ryan Weber came on for the ninth to finish this one out.
The Red Sox will look to keep the good times rolling on Saturday with the second game of this series against the Mariners. Boston will send Rick Porcello out to the mound for that one to face off against Félix Hernández. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.