Red Sox Notes: Eduardo Rodriguez Breathes Life Into Boston’s Rotation

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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez

Photo via Jun 27, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (52) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Eduardo Rodriguez still has some work to do before he solidifies his role as Boston’s No. 5 starter, but Saturday against the New York Yankees was a good way to get the ball rolling.

The left-hander earned the win in the Red Sox’s 5-2 victory over the Yankees, and Rodriguez was solid through seven innings, allowing four hits and giving up only one run on a solo homer. It was the first time the 23-year-old got past the seventh inning this season.

“His seven innings today is potentially a major shot in the arm for our rotation,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, per MassLive.com’s Jen McCaffrey. “It was just good to see — the struggles that he’s gone through, to come back after one and a half starts (with Pawtucket) and pitch like he did here today.”

Rodriguez now holds his hands at eye level when he’s set, rather than at his waist, to avoid tipping pitches. He used his slider as his main secondary pitch Saturday instead of his changeup, something the Yankees likely weren’t expecting. And Rodriguez is getting more comfortable and confident on the mound.

“Now I’m not thinking about the tipping stuff,” Rodriguez said, per The Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson. “I just throw the ball right where I wanted.”

One start doesn’t prove Rodriguez can keep this pace up, but it certainly is promising for a Red Sox rotation that struggled in the first half.

Here are some more notes from Saturday’s win.

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— The Red Sox already started the second half off with a series win after taking the series opener against the Yankees 5-3. It’s also their sixth consecutive victory, which is the longest win streak Boston has had this season.

— With Drew Pomeranz now on the team and Rodriguez seemingly turning a corner, the Red Sox’s rotation suddenly is a little crowded. And Clay Buchholz, who has a 2-8 record with a 6.31 ERA as a starter this season, knows he’s currently the odd man out.

“This is the only place I’ve ever been,” Buchholz said Saturday, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne. “We’ve got a really good team this year. That would be probably one of the hardest parts about it. It is what it is. It’s part of the game. It’s not very often in this day and age a guy stays with the same team his whole career. If that’s their decision or their outlook on it, then that’s what it is. That’s part of the business.”

— Speaking of the rotation, David Price knows that he didn’t play at the top of his game in the first half. The left-handed ace will have to step up in the second half, and he’s more than ready to do that.

Not to mention, Price has pitched eight innings in five of his last seven starts — including an eight-inning shutout in his last outing before the break — and struck out a whopping 56 batters over that seven-game span.

“I think we haven’t come even close to playing our best baseball of the season,” Price told WEEI’s Rob Bradford on Saturday. “We haven’t gotten extremely hot over a 20-game period. This team is definitely capable of reeling off a lot of wins in a row, and winning 17, 18 out of 20. Doing stuff like that. This team is definitely capable of doing that. By no means have we played our best baseball this year, and we’re still in this position. Once we get that ball rolling in that direction, and everybody gets that feeling, that’s when you can do some special stuff.”

— Meanwhile, in Triple-A …

— The Red Sox already are getting on a roll in July. Their 51-38 record is a season-best 13 games above .500, and their 9-2 record so far this month is the best in the majors.

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

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