BOSTON — Day games have not been kind to Eduardo Rodriguez this season.
The Boston Red Sox starter entered Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park with a 1-4 record and a 10.67 earned run average in day games, compared to a 6-1 mark and a 1.67 ERA in night games.
Rodriguez, despite the wet, foggy weather, pitched pretty well Sunday. He gave up four runs (two earned) and seven hits with one strikeout over six innings, but did not factor into the decision in an 8-6 loss. His command was pretty good as well, evidenced by his 71 strikes in 104 pitches. The 22-year-old has issued only one walk in his last 19 innings.
Rodriguez retired the first six batters he faced, then allowed one earned run in the third inning as the Royals used a bit of small ball with two singles and two sacrifices to cross the plate. The fourth inning saw Rodriguez give up two runs, although both were unearned because of two errors.
“I think the thing that really impressed me about him — he gets a double-play ball that ends up leading to a couple of runs, and typically what a young pitcher will do is continue to let that linger and give up six or seven runs and we have to pull him out of the game in the fourth inning,” Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo said.
“I expressed to him exactly what that meant to him and the rest of the pitching staff and everyone who was watching. He was able to get through six innings and have a real good outing. He didn’t crumble. Those are the little things we’re looking at from some of our young pitchers.”
Rodriguez avoided any further damage in the fifth inning by winning an intense battle with Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who hit a weak line drive to Pablo Sandoval that ended the inning with a runner stranded on third.
Rodriguez gave up another run in the sixth inning when Mike Moustakas hit a 3-2 pitch into the Green Monster seats for his 13th homer of the season. It was the ninth pitch of the at-bat, and Rodriguez was visibly frustrated after watching the ball sail over the wall.
Despite the trouble in the sixth inning, Rodriguez did enough for the Red Sox to emerge victorious, but a poor performance in the ninth inning from reliever Junichi Tazawa prevented that from happening.
That said, Rodriguez is starting to become more and more consistent. He’s given up two earned runs or fewer in seven of his last 10 starts, and that’s an encouraging sign from a young pitcher with exceptional talent.
“Overall, did a really nice job, kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance to win,” Lovullo said. “That’s what we ask our starting pitcher to do.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images