Every game right now feels like playoff baseball, as the Red Sox are still fighting for their postseason lives. And for a time, this game was feeling worrisome. Boston had squandered a bases loaded, no-out situation in part due to a double play from Xander Bogaerts, and Eduardo Rodriguez went from dominant to having nothing in the blink of an eye. But the offense came through with some big hits, including a couple from Bogaerts, while the bullpen did the job with 4 2⁄3 strong innings. It was another big win against a team they were supposed to beat, giving them six in a row total, as well as another step closer to some meaningful October baseball.
With the Red Sox having won their last five games coming into Tuesday’s game against the Mets, Eduardo Rodriguez had a big start to keep the momentum on the team’s side. And just specifically regarding his own personal situation, he only has a handful of starts left this year — and less depending on how far this team goes — until he hits free agency. He’s going to be a fascinating case this winter, and he’s looking to bolster his case with whatever time on the mound he has left in 2021.
At least, he sure looked that way early in this game. Through the first three innings at Fenway, Rodriguez was dominant. His fastball was jumping out of his hand, and with some help from what was a large strike zone for much of the night he allowed just a single through those first three innings while racking up five strikeouts in the process.
Over on the other side, though, the Red Sox offense were having some troubles of their own going up against Marcus Stroman. They’re familiar with the righty from his days with the Blue Jays, and he’s having another really good year this season. Boston got a baserunner in each of the first two innings off of him, but they weren’t able to advance anyone beyond first base, never mind get a run home.
But then the game started to get interesting in the bottom of the third, and with the bottom Boston’s lineup. José Iglesias stayed impossibly hot, ripping a double down the left-field line to start off the inning. After a hit batter and a walk, the bases were loaded, nobody was out and the heart of the order was coming up. It was a huge chance early in the game, but Xander Bogaerts grounded into the rare 5-2-3 double, and then Rafael Devers hit a routine fly ball out to left, and the Red Sox got nothing out of the inning.
And with some unfortunate timing, Rodriguez lost it. As Lou Merloni pointed out on the ol’ Twitter machine, it looked like the southpaw was tipping his changeup, and that, combined with some patented Rodriguez nibbling, led to damage. It was two walks and a base hit to start the inning and load the bases before another walk brought one run home. Michael Conforto then found a hole against the shift, making it a 2-0 game. But here the Red Sox also caught a huge break, with Pete Alonso inexplicably being sent home and thrown out by a mile. That was a momentum-shifter, and Rodriguez got out of the inning without any more runs.
Stroman came back out after that and started the bottom half of the fourth with back-to-back strikeouts, but Bobby Dalbec kept the inning alive with a double high off the wall in straightaway center field. That brought Christian Vázquez to the dish, and he ripped a bullet into left field. Old friend Kevin Pillar misjudged it off the bat and his first step was in, allowing the ball to get up over his glove for a double, cutting the deficit in half. It looked like Iglesias was going to keep the inning going with an infield single to the hole on the left side, too, but Vázquez was off on contact and thrown out at third.
Despite his struggles in the fourth, Rodriguez came back out for the fifth, but he wouldn’t make it out of it. He did get a quick first out, but then gave up a single and a double, and Alex Cora had seen enough. Surprisingly, he turned to Ryan Brasier in a huge spot, down by one with two in scoring position and just one out. I was not wild about it, but it worked as Brasier’s stuff looked much crisper and he got two quick outs to keep the score at 2-1.
And then, the Red Sox offense finally showed up for real. Kiké Hernández started the inning with a bang, driving a 1-0 two-seam up in the zone out to left field for a solo homer, tying the game up at two. Kyle Schwarber then followed it up with a double out to left before Bogaerts made up for his double play. He got a 3-1 fastball right over the plate, and he absolutely demolished it out to left-center for a two-run shot, and the Red Sox were up 4-2.
Brasier came back out for the sixth for a long first out, and then Austin Davis got the final two to keep the team ahead. Boston then put together a two-out rally in the bottom half, getting hit by a pitch and then drawing back-to-back walks to load the bases for Bogaerts. The shortstop came through again, this time poking a base hit against the shift to make it a 6-2 game.
Now it was just on the bullpen to not blow this game, and Hansel Robles certainly did his job. He’s been pitching extremely well of late, and kept it going with a perfect seventh. Garrett Richards then came on for the eighth, and he did make one mistake that led to a solo homer from Pete Alonso, but that was all. Richards would get the call for the ninth as well, and after recording the first out he’d hand the ball to Darwinzon Hernandez. He got the last two without allowing a run to close out the game.
The 6-3 win pushed the Red Sox record to 87-65. The bad news for Boston is that both Toronto and New York won on Tuesday as well, beating Tampa Bay and Texas, respectively. That means the standings at the top do not change, with the Red Sox leading the Blue Jays by 1.5 games and the Yankees by two games. To start the day, Oakland trailed by 3.5 and Seattle by 4.5. Those two are currently playing each other and are tied.
The Red Sox can now go for a quick two-game sweep on Wednesday with Chris Sale on the mound. He’ll take on Tylor Megill, with first pitch set for 7:10 PM ET.