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Looking back at the five best Eduardo Rodriguez starts with the Red Sox

Boston faces their old friend Wednesday afternoon.

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American League Championship Series Game 3: Houston Astros v. Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

As long as the weather cooperates — and it looks like there might be something of a window of decent-ish weather for the game — the Red Sox are set to take on their old friend Eduardo Rodriguez on Wednesday for the lefty’s second start in a Tigers uniform. Rodriguez was acquired by the Red Sox right before his debut in 2015 for Andrew Miller, and grew up as a pitcher in the organization. We know that he was often more frustrating than great, but that’s because we saw so many flashes of what he could be with just a bit more consistency. Even so he was a tough guy to replace in the rotation, and someone who was a mainstay on this roster for more than a half-decade.

With that in mind, I thought the matchup today merited a quick look at his best moments in a Red Sox uniform. To do this, I simply looked for the best game scores on Rodriguez’ Baseball-Reference game logs from his Red Sox career. Game score is certainly not a perfect measure here, but it’s good enough for our purposes of walking down memory lane.

T-5. June 3, 2015 vs. MIN (Game Score: 74)

We start with what was just the second start of his career, which gives an explanation for why the expectations were so high so early for the lefty. Rodriguez had no trouble at all against a Twins lineup that included, among others, Brian Dozier, Torii Hunter, and old friend Eduardo Núñez. (Joe Mauer didn’t start this game.) Rodriguez went seven innings, allowing just a single run on two hits and two walks while striking out seven. Offensively, the Red Sox got a homer from Mike Napoli, four hits from leadoff hitter Dustin Pedroia, and an 0-fer at the bottom of the lineup from starter Rusney Castillo in a 6-3 win.

T-5. July 2, 2021 at OAK (Game Score: 74)

From his first season to his last in a Red Sox uniform, this was actually a game a lot of people probably missed since it was a late-night game out on the west coast. But Rodriguez shoved in this one, shutting down a good A’s team for six scoreless, one-hit innings, allowing two walks and striking out seven. Unfortunately he didn’t get the win here as Frankie Montas kept Oakland hanging around long enough to later tie the game and force extras. Boston did win this one, though, with Enrique Hernández knocking in the winning run in the top of the 10th, then gunning down the potential tying run in the bottom of the inning.

4. July 22, 2019 at TB (Game Score: 75)

The second half of 2019 is really where we got to see Rodriguez at his consistent best, and this start was at the early portion of it and also the best of the entire run. Taking on a Rays team that would win 96 games, Rodriguez worked around four walks in seven innings to get through without allowing a run, giving up just two hits while striking out six. Boston won this game 9-4 behind a seven-run third that included homers from J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Sam Travis.

3. September 23, 2017 at CIN (Game Score: 77)

This was a big game for the Red Sox, who were looking for a second straight division title and were up four games on the Yankees with nine to go, and Rodriguez delivered against and admittedly underwhelming Reds lineup. The lefty went 7 23 strong innings, leading the way in a shutout effort for the whole staff with three hits and two walks while striking out six. Boston won this game 5-0, with Mitch Moreland hitting his 20th homer of the year. They would also, of course, go on to win the division.

2. May 28, 2015 at TEX (Game Score: 78)

We talked at the top about the second game of Rodriguez’ career, which actually was technically his worst start ever to that point. And still all these years later, his major-league debut remains the second best outing of his career. Rodriguez dominated the Rangers lineup and gave a preview of the kind of upside we would see for the rest of his career. Not allowing a run over 7 23 innings, Rodriguez struck out seven while walking two and allowing three hits. Boston won the game 5-1, with Hanley Ramirez going deep, Mookie Betts and Pedroia each having three-hit games, and Koji Uehara finishing it out.

1. September 4, 2016 at OAK (Game Score 83)

To finish up our list, and with the best start of his career, we head back to Oakland where Rodriguez cruised in another late-night matchup that may have been missed by many. The lefty was, by our definition anyway, as on as he’s ever been, going eight shutout innings in which he allowed just a single while walking two and striking out five. In a way, it’s the most fitting end to our list given the frustration often surrounding Rodriguez’ career, as the Red Sox actually lost this game. The offense was shut out by Oakland’s staff, led by Kendall Graveman, and Craig Kimbrel allowed a walk-off double to Khris Davis.

We’re rooting for Rodriguez in Detroit, and I truly hope he can consistently find the kind of stuff and command he displayed in the starts above. That said, I hope he doesn’t squeeze another start on to this list on Wednesday. He can save that for later in the year.