By the results, Eduardo Rodriguez has been pitching very well since his late start to the season, and for the most part this is actually the case. He certainly hasn’t looked terrible or anything close to that. On the other hand, it has seemed to me at least that he’s been a tick off from where he was to close out 2019. To be fair, that was to be expected from him and given the circumstances everything he’s done so far this year is more than acceptable. On Tuesday, he looked to take his biggest step in that direction. He did give up a pair of homers, but that was about all the damage he allowed and they were both solo shots. Rodriguez’s stuff looked crisp and his command was on point. Throw in a huge three-run homer for Xander Bogaerts, an RBI triple from Bobby Dalbec, and a strong performance from the bullpen, and you get another Red Sox win.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays started their little two-game series this week with a matchup of each team’s respective aces. And, if we’re being honest with ourselves, Boston found themselves on the short end of that matchup going up against Hyun-Jin Ryu. But Eduardo Rodriguez came out looking like he was ready for this matchup against one of the game’s best, showing some of the crispest stuff and most consistent command we’ve seen from him over the first portion of the game.
As has been the case for much of this season, it was the changeup that was being leaned upon the most in this one, a strategy that makes even more sense against what is a fairly righty-heavy Blue Jays lineup. It worked tremendously well early on, with Rodriguez issuing just a walk in the first inning before tossing a pair of perfect frames in the second and third.
The bad news is Ryu wasn’t messing around on his end either, cruising through the first three innings himself. He was perfect in the first inning, but did give up a leadoff double to Xander Bogaerts in the second. That was all Boston managed there, though, and they also failed to capitalize on a leadoff base hit from Bobby Dalbec in the third.
So, we headed into the fourth with the pitching totally dominating in a scoreless affair that, to that point, had only seen one runner advance beyond first base and none beyond second. That would change quickly in the fourth. Rodriguez had his first hiccup to leadoff that inning with Bo Bichette at the plate. A lot of pitchers can be hit by the Blue Jays shortstop, and Rodriguez learned that the hard way when he tried to sneak through a fastball up and in. Bichette was all over it, launching it over everything in left field for a solo shot to make it a 1-0 game. Fortunately, Rodriguez didn’t let that snowball and it was only the home run for Toronto in the inning.
The other piece of good news is that this was apparently the wakeup call Boston’s offense needed after those lackluster first three innings. Christian Arroyo got things started for the Sox with a leadoff bloop single, and J.D. Martinez followed that up with a single of his own. That brought Xander Bogaerts to the plate, and he entered this game without a homer on the season. He would not leave the game like that. On a 1-2 fastball up and in, he shot one into the Monster Seats for a three-run shot, and just like that the Red Sox had a lead.
They weren’t going to stop there, either. Marwin Gonzalez kept the inning going with a one-out double out to left field, and then Bobby Dalbec hit one a long way. The bad news is it was to the deepest part of the field so it stayed in the yard. The good news is the Blue Jays outfield had trouble all night, including on this one as the ball fell in for an RBI triple to make it a 4-1 ballgame.
Now it was all about Rodriguez coming back out for a quick inning to keep the momentum, which is exactly what happened with an easy 1-2-3 inning. After the offense failed to get more on the board despite a pair of one-out baserunners, he was back out for the sixth with 71 pitches under his belt. He did allow a single on a little tapper to the left side that Bichette was just able to beat out, but that was all as he continued to cruise.
It had appeared his night was over after that sixth inning, but with 89 pitches Alex Cora did let Rodriguez come back out for the seventh. That did not work out so well, as Randall Grichuk was the first batter he faced and he quickly put a hanging slider into the final row of the Monster Seats.
That would also be the last batter Rodriguez faced, with Cora going to the bullpen after the homer to bring Matt Andriese into the game. The righty did his job, keeping the game at a 4-2 score retiring all three batters he faced in the inning.
At this point, the Red Sox offense was scuffling a bit, including against old friend (sort of) Joel Payamps, and they failed to get any runs in the sixth and seventh innings. As a result, it was still a two-run lead for Boston in the eighth with Adam Ottavino coming in. Things did get a little dicey in that inning with a two-out walk to Marcus Semien. He would then make it over to third on a stolen base attempt with a throw that ended up in center field, but Ottavino came back with a strikeout to leave Semien there and keep the lead at two.
The Red Sox offense continued to be silent in the eighth, leaving it up to Matt Barnes to close out this 4-2 game. The tying run did come to the plate a couple of times after an infield single, but there was never much doubt as Barnes looked great again. He allowed only the infield single to close out the win, pushing Boston’s record to 12-6 on the year.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays will finish up this little two-game set at Fenway on Wednesday, weather-permitting. Garrett Richards will go for Boston while Toronto’s pitcher is still officially TBD.