Red Sox Notes: Eduardo Rodriguez Back To Form; Mike Napoli’s Patience Pays

BOSTON — Offense was the lead story Sunday night at Fenway Park as the Boston Red Sox set a single-game season high for hits while routing the Detroit Tigers. But it wasn’t the only story.

Somewhat overshadowed by Boston’s 20-hit, 11-run performance was the work of Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who rebounded from last Monday’s disaster in Anaheim in tremendous fashion.

The rookie left-hander allowed just three hits and walked only one in his seven innings of work, with Detroit’s lone run coming via a solo home run in the fifth inning. Rodriguez retired the side in order in four of his seven frames, including the sixth, which followed a five-hit, four-run bottom of the fifth for Boston.

“He stayed in command of the count the entire time,” manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox’s 11-1 win. “Last time out, early on, it was clear he didn’t have the command that he showed (Sunday night), particularly with his changeup. I thought (Sunday night), he threw a number of quality changeups for some outs, for some swing-and-miss. But really the most impressive thing was when we had a long inning offensively, he came right back out and stayed in command of the count. Filled the strike zone up. He was impressive.”

Rodriguez has been the epitome of an all-or-nothing pitcher during his first two months in the majors. In eight of his 11 starts, he has allowed two earned runs or fewer, at times looking like an ace in the making. In the other three, he has been shelled, allowing 25 earned runs in just 10 total innings.

Last week’s outing in Anaheim was one such clunker — the worst start of Rodriguez’s young career, in fact. The 22-year-old lasted just 1 2/3 innings in that one and was charged with seven runs in an eventual 11-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

But on Sunday, he looked much more like a pitcher the Red Sox can build their rotation around.

“I just go start to start, nothing makes me change after a bad start,” Rodriguez said. “I just continue to throw strikes and get outs.”

A few additional notes from Sunday’s blowout:

— David Ortiz enjoyed one of the best games of his storied Red Sox career. The veteran designated hitter went 4-for-5, smacked two towering home runs and drove in a career-high seven runs in the win.

Since joining the Red Sox in 2003, Ortiz ranks second in the majors with 46 multi-homer games. Only Albert Pujols (49) has more.

Ortiz has recorded multiple hits in six of his last 12 games and has upped his batting average by 13 points in the process.

“Personally, there was no doubt (Ortiz would find his swing),” Farrell said. “While some might suggest because of his age, there was a lot of comments around decreased bat speed, we didn’t see that. We saw it was more timing — getting his front foot on the ground a little bit more consistently. He’s hit left-handers better of late, as well. But no, there was no concern that he wasn’t going to, at the end of the year when you look back, his numbers would be close to what they’ve been year in and year out.”

— Xander Bogaerts also collected four hits for an American League-leading fourth time this season. The shortstop’s .402 batting average since May 6 leads the majors.

— Mike Napoli enjoyed another productive night out of the No. 8 hole, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. He also showed excellent plate discipline, drawing one walk and seeing six or more pitches in three of his five at-bats.

In the last seven days, Napoli is batting .400 (10-for-25) with four doubles and five RBIs.

“Not just (Sunday night),” Farrell said. “He’s been in a pretty good place here the last, probably, nine, 10, 11 games, whatever it might be. He’s staying balanced, he’s not missing pitches that he has previously. His performance, his production certainly lengthens things out for us.”

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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