While the Red Sox win on Thursday was not the prettiest victory in the history of baseball, they did get a bright spot in Franchy Cordero snapping out of an extended slump with a multi-hit day. On Friday, it was Bobby Dalbec’s turn. He smacked a base hit in his first at bat, then had a huge homer in the next one. The homer would end up being the difference in this game and push the Red Sox to victory. Boston also got a good start from Rodriguez in which he managed to put up results without his best stuff, and they got two scoreless innings from Garrett Whitlock. Good times all around.
Eduardo Rodriguez has been the best starter on the Red Sox this year, at least on a per start basis. There was every reason to at least be a little worried about what he would bring this year, particularly early on, after missing all of last season and falling behind in his prep work due to myocarditis. He has been really good in 2021, though. With that said, he was also coming off his worst start of the year his last time out and was looking on Friday to make sure that start didn’t snowball. The lefty succeeded, even without his best stuff.
His start to the game didn’t come when it was supposed to, as rain delayed the game by about 90 minutes. That can serve to throw off routines, but it didn’t appear to affect Rodriguez too badly, although the first was a bit of a slog and he caught a massive break thanks to a mistake from the Orioles. Baltimore had their first two batters reach on a walk and a single, and then Trey Mancini hit a live drive out to right field. It hung up enough to make it an easy play for Hunter Renfroe, but Cedric Mullins didn’t see it that way. He must have assumed it would be a hit off the bat because he just put his head down and ran, resulting in a very easy double play for the Red Sox. Rodriguez ended up getting out of the inning without a run.
Things got easier in the second as he worked around just a single, but there was more pressure put on in the third. Baltimore had their leadoff man reach on a single, but then Rodriguez got the first out on a line drive and then had Ramon Urías get caught stealing for a big second out. It was big because it was immediately followed by a double and a walk, which could have resulted in a run. Instead, it was just a scoring chance, and Rodriguez got a soft line drive from Pedro Severino to again escape a jam.
Over on the other side, the Red Sox offense was having some early trouble against Matt Harvey, a pitcher they were already seeing for the third time on the season. They managed just a double through the first two innings, and then squandered a two-on, one-out situation in the third.
That meant it was a scoreless game heading into the fourth, but Baltimore shot themselves in a foot here again in this inning. With one out, Rafael Devers hit a ball over to the right side of the infield, but Pat Valaika’s toss to Harvey covering the first base bag. The error was actually charged to Harvey for some reason, but that seemed like a bad call and I’d expect it to be changed. More importantly, though, the Red Sox had a chance with Devers at second. A couple batters later Renfroe got him home, smacking a base hit into lefty to break the scoreless tie.
The Red Sox weren’t going to stop there either. Franchy Cordero extended the inning with a four-pitch walk, bringing Bobby Dalbec to the plate. Dalbec had broken up a long 0-fer skid in his first at bat with a single, and did even better this time around. Harvey left a truly horrendous hanging curveball right in the heart of the zone and Dalbec was all over it. He drove it out to left field for a three-run shot, and suddenly it was a 4-0 lead for Boston.
Rodriguez came through with the shutdown inning in the bottom of the fourth in which he worked around a two-run double, but the fifth would prove more troublesome. After a quick first out, Mullins smacked a double and then Austin Hays worked a walk to put two on with one out. Baltimore finally took advantage of a scoring chance here when Mancini smacked a base hit into center field to bring a run home and cut the Red Sox lead to three. Suddenly, it wasn’t even clear if Rodriguez would make it through the inning, but he came back strong after the run came in with a strikeout and a ground out to end the inning and limit the damage to just the one run.
That did indeed end the night for Rodriguez, with Hirokazo Sawamura entering for the sixth with the score still 4-1. It wouldn’t stand that way for too long. Ryan Mountcastle led off the inning, and while the young hitter has been slumping he didn’t look like it here. Sawamura tried to sneak a 3-2 fastball by down and in, but Mountcastle was ready for it, sending it out to center field for a solo shot. That pushed the lead down to just two. Sawamura did get the next three batters to make sure that gap didn’t close any further.
The seventh belonged to Garrett Whitlock, who has been scuffling a bit in his last couple outings after being so dominant early on. He got back on track here, allowing a single but then answering back with a double play for a three-batter inning.
Moving on to the eighth, the Red Sox offense woke up from a bit of a slumber they had fallen into for the previous few innings. J.D. Martinez started the inning off with a base hits, and then back-to-back fielder’s choices led to Devers standing on first base with two outs. It was Christian Vázquez who’d come up with the big hit. He ripped a double into the corner in left field and Devers got on his horse, coming all the way around to score and make it a 5-2 game.
That brought Whitlock back out for the bottom of the inning, and once again he was able to get the job done. It wasn’t perfect this time around either, this time allowing a pair of singles, but no runs scored.
Boston would add another bit of insurance on an RBI double from Marwin Gonzalez to score Dalbec and make it a 6-2 game. From there, it was up to Phillips Valdez to finish out the four-run game. He got the job done with a scoreless inning, and the Red Sox got the win. Their record now stands at 20-13, making them the first to hit that win total in all of baseball.
The Red Sox and Orioles get back in action tomorrow night in Baltimore. Garrett Richards goes for Boston while the O’s have not yet announced a starter. First pitch is set for 7:05 PM ET.