Red Sox Notes: Alex Cora, Mookie Betts Laud Eduardo Rodriguez’s Strong Season

The Red Sox’s 2019 season came to a dramatic close Sunday afternoon.

Boston took a 4-3 lead and was looking as if it would be able to give Eduardo Rodriguez his 20th win of the season. But the Orioles tied the game in the eighth, ultimately shutting that idea down, before Mookie Betts scored the game-winning run in ridiculous fashion on a Rafael Devers single to seal the 5-4 win over Baltimore at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox haven’t had a 20-win pitcher on their staff since Rick Porcello completed the feat in 2016 en route to a Cy Young Award. And even though it’s certainly disappointing Rodriguez wasn’t able to lock up win No. 20 on the last day of the season, the southpaw was just happy to get through the year healthy.

“I’m just happy right now to make it through the whole season,” the southpaw said after the game, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. (I) was healthy the whole time, being able to go out there every five days … that’s something I really wanted to accomplish … and I did it this year.

“The only thing I can control is every time I go out there and keep the score like it is,” Rodriguez added. “You saw what happened in my last game, I gave up seven runs and I still got the win, I gave up three today and didn’t get it.”

As for Alex Cora, he couldn’t be prouder of what Rodriguez has accomplished as a pitcher.

“It’s baseball,” he said on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “That’s the thing about wins and losses as a starter, on the last one we scored four they scored four, we scored 12 he gives us seven and gets a W. Today he goes seven, does an outstanding job and he didn’t get the W.”

And even though the left-hander had a career year, Cora still thinks Rodriguez will be hungry for more in 2020.

“We’re very proud of him. 3.81 ERA and 200-plus innings. He gives us chances to win since I think Houston (game). … He’s going to get better,” Cora continued. “I don’t feel that he’s going to be satisfied … try to improve a few things, the breaking ball is going to be part of the mix. … We’re very proud of him.”

Betts essentially echoed his manager’s comments.

“It’s been amazing all year,” Betts said on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “He’s done an amazing job. He’s given us chances to win, that’s all we could ask for.”

Here are some other notes from Sunday’s Red Sox-Orioles game:

— Devers continued to etch his name into Red Sox history Sunday with his 200th hit of the season. The third baseman became the youngest player to do so at age 22.

“He was trying hard,” Cora said on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “He was swinging at a lot of bad pitches the last month, and that’s a good lesson for him going into the offseason. … Overall … he was one of the best third basemen in the big leagues. Not only offensively but defensively he turned the corner. … He put a whole season together … he’ll go into the offseason and keep making adjustments…”

— The Red Sox finished out the season with three players who had a batting average over .300 and 30 home runs. This is the first time in team history this has happened. Check out the details below:

— Stevie Wilkerson may have made the catch of the year in the final game of the season in the eighth inning.

Jackie Bradley Jr. clubbed the ball to right, and it certainly looked as if Boston was going to take the lead. But Wilkerson jumped up and robbed Bradley of the home run.

“I thought it was gone so I turned around and all of a sudden I didn’t hear the fans,” Cora said, “and I’m like ‘There’s something wrong going on here.’ … From my angle, it was one of the best plays I’ve seen. … I gotta see it on the replay, but it was a good one.”

“That’s gotta be catch of the year,” Betts told NESN’s Guerin Austin after the game. “That was amazing. Gotta tip your cap for that.”

— Some heads up base running from Betts saved the game from going into extra innings. The right fielder had a simple explanation for what was going through this mind when he rounded third:

“Just trying to score,” he told Austin after the game.

Cora lauded Betts after the win:

“I’ve been telling him the whole season he can dominate the game in every aspect,” he said on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “He can hit, he can play defense and he can run the bases. He goes first and third, he rounded third hard … and he took off, it wasn’t a gamble actually it was a great baseball play. His reaction was outstanding. … Regardless of the results, we’ve played the game the right way the last 10 or 12 days. … and we finished strong.”

— Game 162 may have had no impact on the Red Sox’s season, but Betts said the emotion in the dugout could have told you otherwise.

“It felt like Game 7 of the World Series,” Betts told Austin after the game, “and we were trying to get the win for Eddie. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it but we got the win in the end.”

And his message to Red Sox Nation?

“Thank you guys for being here until the end. We’ll get them in 2020.”

— Brandon Workman finished the year with a 10-1 record, 1.88 ERA and 16 saves.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images

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