There wasn’t anything too pretty about Anthony Ranaudo’s second major league start with the Boston Red Sox — aside from the big “W” next to his name.
Ranaudo improved to 2-0 as a big league starter Wednesday in the Red Sox’s 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The right-hander regressed from his impressive debut against the New York Yankees on Aug. 1, but he still fought his way through six innings en route to giving Boston its third straight victory to close out an eight-game, three-city road trip.
“It was great to get a win, finish off the series and everything,” Ranaudo said. “I don’t think I threw my best, but I tried to command the zone and fill up the zone and they put some balls in play. But ultimately, we got the win and it was a good way to finish the road trip.”
Ranaudo played with fire for much of the afternoon. He allowed four earned runs on eight hits, including two home runs in the fourth inning, yet survived long enough to earn a win. Yoenis Cespedes tied the game 3-3 in the fifth inning, and Mike Napoli followed with a two-run, opposite-field homer to give the Red Sox a lead they’d never relinquish.
It would be fair to say Ranaudo’s second start in a Red Sox uniform was a step back from his debut in The Show, when he arrived at Fenway Park in the immediate aftermath of Boston’s barrage of deadline deals to hold the Bronx Bombers to two runs over six innings. He wasn’t as crisp, he left far too many pitches up in the zone and the Reds took advantage of some offerings that grabbed way too much of the plate. Of the 18 outs that Ranaudo recorded Wednesday, 11 were fly ball outs, which is a dangerous way to live in Cincinnati.
“I had a little trouble commanding my changeup and everything like that, but ultimately, I was able to mix in my breaking ball and fill up the zone with my fastball the best that I could,” Ranaudo said. “I was just trying to be aggressive, and like I said, the offense did a good job of coming out and scoring runs, so I was just trying to come out and be aggressive with my fastball and try to throw as many strikes as I could.”
Ranaudo’s so-so outing likely means the Red Sox’s rotation plans won’t change much, unless Brandon Workman’s fatigue becomes a bigger issue. Workman was expected to miss just one turn through the rotation, and although he has struggled of late, he’ll likely take the ball the next time his spot pops up. Ranaudo, despite earning his second win, didn’t really do enough to leapfrog anyone on the organizational depth chart.
Let’s not discredit Ranaudo’s performance entirely, though. While the Reds certainly squared up some balls, he still was very efficient — 67 percent (61 of 91) of his pitches were strikes — and gave the Red Sox just enough. That’s A-OK for a 24-year-old cutting his teeth in the bigs.
“Every game is still a really important game,” Ranaudo said of making his second start. “When there’s an opportunity to go out there and pitch in a major league game, it’s still a very important game and there were still a lot of emotions going out there.”
Ranaudo’s next start could come at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he’s 13-4 with a 2.58 ERA through 22 starts this season. But Ranaudo still represents Boston’s sixth starter, so to speak, so he definitely remains very much a part of the mix.