More than anything, this game was probably a reminder on why pitcher wins doesn’t matter for evaluation purposes. Eduardo Rodriguez was not sharp in this one, looking as bad as he has maybe at any point in the second half. The Rangers were all over him and he really struggled to get through five innings. Alex Cora wasn’t going to pull him with the lead — which he had because the Red Sox offense was dominant in the first half of this game — before he got through five unless his arm fell off, though. He made it through, and the bullpen bent but did not break. That was enough for win number 19 for Eddie. One more to go. Somehow.
Everyone knows what the story was for this game. Eduardo Rodriguez was sitting at 18 wins coming into the day with two more starts on the docket. Twenty wins has a lot of prestige, and also carries some weight in arbitration. This was a big deal for the lefty as well as his manager who has been tough on him over the last couple of years. The team, as a result, has been fully behind him over the last couple weeks as he’s gotten close to this goal, and Alex Cora sent out the A-team in this otherwise meaningless game in Texas.
The offense, to their credit, came out on fire against Edinson Vólquez. Rodriguez has gotten plenty of run support all year — it’s hard to get to twenty wins in today’s game without it, ya know? — and the Red Sox gave him a formidable lead with which to work before he even took the mound. Rafael Devers got the rally going with a one-out single before moving up to second on a wild pitch and coming home on a Xander Bogaerts base hit. Another wild pitch would then move Bogaerts up a base, and he too would come home with J.D. Martinez smacked a base hit, making it 2-0 Red Sox. The bases would eventually load up with two outs for Jackie Bradley Jr., who didn’t let the opportunity go to waste. Instead, his double brought two more runs home and just like that the Red Sox had a 4-0 lead in place for their starter.
Normally, this would bring nothing but confidence, but Rodriguez didn’t quite look the same in this start. His command was off and the Rangers were all over what he had to offer. The southpaw started his night with a strikeout, but then gave up a double to Evlis Andrus and a single to Willie Calhoun to put a pair in scoring position. Rodriguez did get another out to almost escape, but he wouldn’t be that lucky. Instead, he lost control and issued two straight walks to give up one run before allowing back-to-back singles that resulted in three more runs. Just like that, the score was tied. It was going to be one of those nights.
Sure enough, the Red Sox got right back to it in the second when Mookie Betts came up first and crushed a leadoff solo homer out to straightaway center field. The lead was back, but again it wouldn’t last long. Delino DeShields hit a ball out to right field. Betts went for the catch but came up short, slamming against the wall and resulting in a triple. DeShields then came home on a sacrifice fly. More importantly, Betts seemed to be shaken up after hitting the wall and was eventually lifted with the same foot bothering him that kept him out last week.
With that, the score was tied at five apiece heading into the third and it really wasn’t looking like it was in the cards for Rodriguez. The offense, though, had different ideas. They would get get one in the third and then two more in the fourth. Meanwhile, Rodriguez had settled down a bit. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the third. The fourth was tougher as he loaded the bases, but danger was escaped with a ground out.
Boston added four more in the fifth to make it 12-5, but there was still some drama. Rodriguez headed into the bottom half of the inning with 89 pitches. The lead was substantial, but he still needed to get through the fifth to quality for the victory. It did not look good early when he allowed a single and then a two-run shot, getting his pitch count up to 100 with nobody out. He got a couple quick outs after that, but then the Rangers smacked back-to-back singles. It was looking tough, but DeShields bailed them out when he got caught stealing to end the inning. Rodriguez got through five, and the Red Sox were up five.
Now, it was up to the Red Sox bullpen to hold the lead. Marcus Walden got the call for the sixth, and, well, once again things didn’t go too well. The first two batters he faced came through with base hits to put runners on the corners. He got two straight outs after that, one of which being a sacrifice fly, but then a walk and a single gave the Rangers another run. Suddenly, heading into the seventh it was a 12-9 game.
Andrew Cashner got the call for the bottom of that inning, and again, it was not smooth. Isiah Kiner-Falefa started things off with a double before moving up to third on a sacrifice fly. All things considered it could have been worse, but Texas did cut their deficit to two on a sacrifice fly.
Next in line was Matt Barnes, now tasked with protecting a two-run lead in the eighth. It looked like it was going to be major trouble as Barnes had absolutely no control early, walking each of the first two batters he saw. After a mound visit settled him down, though, he came back with two strikeouts before ending the inning on a fly ball to center field. The lead still stood at two.
That would leave it all up to Brandon Workman in the ninth with a two-run lead. The righty did give up a two-out walk, but that was all. The save was locked down, the win was had and Eduardo Rodriguez still has something to pitch for on Sunday in the season finale.
The Red Sox and Rangers continue this series on Wednesday with Rick Porcello getting the nod for Boston while Texas will start Kolby Allard. First pitch is set for 8:05 PM ET.