If Eduardo Rodriguez does indeed go on to win his 20th game in his final start of the 2019 season, no one is going to remember how he earned No. 19. And that’s a good thing.
The Red Sox lefty was lamentable in his start Tuesday night, giving up seven runs on 11 hits and barely escaped the fifth inning as the pitcher of record. But it was enough nonetheless, as Boston picked up a 12-10 win over the Texas Rangers in messy baseball game.
Just like that, Rodriguez sits on the cusp of team history. The southpaw is slated to make one more start — on the final day of the regular season against the Baltimore Orioles — with the opportunity to become the first Red Sox 20-game winner since Rick Porcello in 2016. Even more impressively, he’ll be the first left-handed Red Sox pitcher to lock down 20 wins since Mel Parnell in 1953. Rodriguez also needs to go just 3 2/3 innings to reach 200 on the season.
But the chance to go for 20 wins almost fell apart in the fifth inning Tuesday. Rodriguez already had given up a two-run homer in the frame and had two runners on while clinging to a 12-7 lead with his pitch count over 100. Manager Alex Cora made a mound visit and gave Rodriguez one more batter. Luckily, he didn’t need to face the batter, as Delino DeShields was caught stealing to end the inning.
“It was ‘This is the last hitter. If you get him out, good for you. You don’t get him out, you’re coming out of the game,’ ” Cora told reporters, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage, revealing his message to Rodriguez. ” … I’m glad, he’s going to get a shot at both (20 wins, 200 innings). He’s got 200 strikeouts. It’s been a great season.
“The way I said it is true: ‘You have been the horse the whole season,’ “Cora said. “I wasn’t going to let it get ugly. It was kind of ugly, but at the same time, he’s still our best pitcher. So I told him ‘Hey, you deserve this, I’ll give you one more, but you better get him out.’ … I love that kid. I have been very honest with him from the get-go. As a staff, we push him because we know of the potential. And I think it was the right move. If we’re in the hunt … he was probably going to be out in the first inning because he was off. … But at the end what matters is he has a chance for the 200 innings and the 20 wins.”
Here are some other notes from Tuesday’s Red Sox-Rangers game:
— While the chase for 20 wins continues, Rodriguez knocked off another impressive milestone in his career year.
Rodriguez topped the 200-strikeout mark in the first inning. He becomes the 13th different Red Sox pitcher to reach that mark.
200 for Eddie pic.twitter.com/jRTWFjc1vw
— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) September 25, 2019
— Mookie Betts exited the game in the third inning with left foot pain after crashing into the right field wall.
Betts missed five games earlier this month with a left foot issue. He went 1-for-2 with a solo home run in the series opener. Cora reported that the outfielder will sit out Wednesday.
— Rafael Devers clubbed his 51st double of the season, more than any other Red Sox third baseman. He also drove in his 114th run of the season and only trails Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu (121) among American League hitters.
— All 10 Red Sox batters that entered the game scored at least one run.