BOSTON — Eduardo Rodriguez allowed just four hits over 5 2/3 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. That’s the good news. The bad news is that each of those hits sailed over Fenway Park’s Green Monster.
The Red Sox left-hander surrendered a career-high four home runs while failing to record a strikeout in his 2016 home debut, a 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays.
“He was pitching a little bit careful because of the heavily right-handed, power-hitting lineup,” manager John Farrell said of Rodriguez.
Indeed, the Blue Jays have one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball, and Jose Bautista set the tone right away with a leadoff home run that barely reached the top of the Monster. Bautista’s homer came on an 87-mile-per-hour changeup, the first of two long balls Rodriguez allowed on changeups. His other two home runs allowed came on fastballs during a day that saw the 23-year-old struggle a bit with command — and pay the full price.
“For me, it depends on the count — what count I have, what hitter I have,” Rodriguez said of his pitch selection. “They hit a lot of fly balls today. I tried to pound the two-seamer down in the zone away. I just missed four pitches and gave up four homers. That’s how the game is.”
Rodriguez still appears to be finding his way in his second game back from a knee injury that sidelined him on the first day of spring training. But the young lefty still showed positive signs — Blue Jays hitters went 2-for-18 against his fastball — that Farrell hopes he can build on going forward.
“With the exception of the two fastballs that he made in the middle of the plate, he had very good success with it,” Farrell added. “You’re looking at four hits allowed through (5 2/3) innings of work; unfortunately, they’re the type that they were.”
— Let’s hit a few other notes from Red Sox-Blue Jays:
— Rodriguez’s counterpart had an impressive day, as Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada came within five outs of a no-hitter. Estrada retired 19 consecutive batters between the second and eighth innings and kept the Red Sox off balance with pinpoint location and strong pitch selection.
“Estrada makes it tough on you,” said Red Sox outfielder Chris Young, whose solo homer in the eighth inning broke up the right-hander’s no-hit bid. “If you wait him out, you’re behind in the count, and sometimes if you’re overly aggressive, you swing at his pitch.”
“He’s got tremendous deception,” Farrell said of Estrada. “He threw a number of four-seam fastballs at the top of the strike zone that we would pop up. He kept us off stride. He’s deceptive, stayed out of the middle of the plate.”
— With left fielder/catcher Blake Swihart sidelined with a severe ankle sprain, the Red Sox are hoping Brock Holt can return soon.
The utility man, who was the team’s Opening Day left fielder, has been on the DL since May 20 with a concussion. Holt will visit concussion specialist Dr. Micky Collins in Pittsburgh while the team travels to San Francisco next week and either join the Red Sox in Minnesota to continue conditioning and baseball activities or head to the minors for a rehab assignment.
— Farrell hinted before Sunday’s game that David Ortiz, who has dealing with nagging foot problems, could sit out both of Boston’s upcoming games against the Giants with the team forgoing the designated hitter spot.
Farrell said Ortiz potentially could start at first base Tuesday with San Francisco right-hander Albert Saurez on the mound but likely will sit Wednesday against lefty Madison Bumgarner.
— Left-hander Roenis Elias had an excellent start Sunday for Triple-A Pawtucket, pitching a full nine innings and allowing just one run on six hits while striking out eight. The 27-year-old could be a candidate to emerge as the Red Sox’s fifth starter.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images