The Red Sox were hoping to get Eduardo Rodriguez to 20 wins this season, and if he was going to get to that mark he basically needed a win on Saturday. The lefty certainly did his part, allowing just two runs over 6 2⁄3 innings with 12 strikeouts. The offense, however, couldn’t get anything going against Aaron Nola and the southpaw left with the game tied. It didn’t seem fair, but if it was any consolation the Red Sox did get the win in the game thanks to a go-ahead sacrifice fly from Andrew Benintendi.
As I said in the lineup post before the game today, it’s the little things we are rooting for with the Red Sox right now rather than just straight wins and losses. It just so happens that in the case of Saturday’s game in Philadelphia, the little thing we were rooting for was a win. This time, it wasn’t just a win for the Red Sox we wanted to see. We wanted to make sure the final boxscore had a “W” next to Eduardo Rodriguez’ name.
The lefty, as has been noted here and elsewhere for a couple weeks now, has a legitimate shot at 20 wins. Given his inability to not only pitch deep into games but also to pitch a full season at earlier points in his career, that he has an actual chance at reaching this single-season milestone is amazing. Even with the correct notion that pitcher wins don’t actually mean anything, it’s a big achievement that major leaguers still surely shoot for.
Rodriguez basically has to win all of his starts the rest of the way to get to that 20-win mark, and he had a big first test against a Phillies team with a lot of talent in their lineup and one that is motivated given their proximity to a playoff spot. The Red Sox lefty, to his credit, has done extremely well against top competition this year, and that continued into Saturday’s action.
Rodriguez clearly came into this game motivated and came out firing in the first. He struck out Jean Segura on three pitches to start his evening, and that set the tone the rest of the way. He would get another strikeout in that perfect first inning.
He only continued to roll after that. Rodriguez allowed his first runner in the second on a two-out single, but that was all. He’d then come back with a perfect third before getting into a little trouble in the fourth. It wasn’t really his fault, though, which speaks to the difficulty of getting to 20 wins. With two outs, Rhys Hoskins hit a fly ball out to right-center field. Mookie Betts was scratched from this game, with J.D. Martinez taking his place in right field. That needs to be mentioned, because the slugger couldn’t get to the fly ball and pulled up a little at the end. Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn’t get there either, and Hoskins had a big, two-out double. He would, however, be stranded as Rodriguez ended the inning with a strikeout.
The lefty came back out for the fifth and sixth and just continued to roll, striking out two in a perfect fifth before getting two more in a perfect sixth.
So, Rodriguez did his job, but he was going to need help from his offense if the was going to indeed get the win. Unfortunately for him and the Red Sox hitters, they were going up against Aaron Nola. The 2018 Cy Young contender already pitched extremely well against Boston once this year, and he did so yet again on Saturday. In fact, Boston failed to get on base at all their first time through the order.
They did finally get their first baserunner in the fourth when Xander Bogaerts came through with a one-out single. Immediately after that, he was caught stealing, because of course he was. The Red Sox would get another baserunner in the fourth on a two-out walk, but nothing more. In the sixth, they got a leadoff single from Gorkys Hernández, and he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Rodriguez. That gave Boston their first runner in scoring position on the night, but he wouldn’t advance from there.
So, we headed into the top of the seventh with the game still scoreless, but the Red Sox offense finally started to look like it was ready to snap out of its funk. Rafael Devers started the inning with a great at bat that ended with a walk before Martinez smacked one through the middle for a base hit. Suddenly, Boston had two on with nobody out. After Mitch Moreland struck out, Christian Vázquez came through with a big double out to left center field. That brought one run home and left two in scoring position with just one down. They would eventually load the bases, but Rodriguez had to hit and predictably couldn’t get the run home.
Still, it was a 1-0 lead and Rodriguez was heading back out looking for a shutdown inning to keep the momentum. He did not get off to the start he wanted, with Bryce Harper leading things off with a single. Rodriguez came back and then struck out the next two, but the Phillies rallied from there. They’d get another base hit before Rodriguez hit a batter, and suddenly the bases were loaded with to outs for Maikel Franco. The count would fill up, but Rodriguez couldn’t get the last strike he needed. He’d walk Franco, bringing the tying run home and ending Rodriguez’ night as well as his chance at a victory. Josh Taylor would then come in and preserve the tie with a big strikeout to end the inning.
After the Red Sox got a walk but nothing more in the top of the eighth, Matt Barnes came on for the bottom of the inning. Jean Segura led things off with a swinging bunt that went for a hit, and then he’d quickly steal second base. Barnes would get one more runner on when he intentionally walked Bryce Harper, but he got out of the inning unscathed to keep the score knotted up at one.
In the top of the ninth, Moreland got things started with a leadoff single, and after Chris Owings came on to pinch run Alex Cora called for the hit-and-run. Vázquez executed perfectly with a base hit, and suddenly there were runners on the corners with nobody out. Jackie Bradley Jr. smoked a line drive that looked like it would drive in the go-ahead run, but it was right at Segura for the first out. After Brock Holt drew a walk to load the bases, Andrew Benintendi came through as a pinch hitter with a fly ball to left field. It was deep enough to get the run home, and Boston took the 2-1 lead.
With the lead in hand, Brandon Workman came on for the save. He did walk the first batter he faced to put the tying run on base, but came back with a strikeout and a fly out. That left it all up to Logan Morrison. He didn’t get it done, and the Red Sox went home with the win.
The Red Sox and Phillies finish off their quick two-game series on Sunday afternoon with Rick Porcello taking on Jason Vargas. First pitch is set for 1:05 PM ET.