After dropping two out of three to the Yankees in New York to start a nine-game road trip, the Red Sox had the opportunity to improve to 4-2 on the trip yesterday thanks to two straight wins over the Washington Nationals in DC.
Making his 17th start of the season and coming off back-to-back poor outings against the Mariners and Yankees, Eduardo Rodriguez toed the rubber for his first time ever at Nationals Park.
In six quality innings pitched, the lefty failed to surrender a single run as he held the Nationals to just three hits and one walk while fanning six on the day. If it weren’t for his spot in the order due up in the top half of the seventh, I’d like to think Rodriguez could have gone even deeper, but considering that the Red Sox were threatening with runners in scoring position, I understand the decision to pinch-hit Andrew Benintendi in that spot.
Regardless, the Venezuela native only needed 84 pitches (54 strikes) to get through those six scoreless innings, and he really dazzled to pick up his 10th winning decision of the season.
Out of those 84 pitches Rodriguez went to his deadly changeup a total of 26 times, which resulted in five swinging strikes, one called strike, and seven balls in play. He also topped out at 95.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the fourth inning.
Building off a successful start to the new month, the 25-year-old hurler will look to carry over this new-found momentum in his next start, which should come back at Fenway Park against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.
In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen carried on and completed the shutout with three scoreless frames of their own. Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel locked down their teams 59th win of the season, and in doing so, Kimbrel, despite allowing the tying run to come to the plate, notched his 26th save of 2018.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was limited in what they could do yesterday and that was mostly because of a solid performance out of the Nationals bullpen.
In fact, Washington’s starter for this series finale, Erick Fedde, had to leave in the second inning with what was later diagnosed as right shoulder inflammation. That really did not matter though, because the Red Sox failed to plate a run until the top half of the seventh.
Going into the frame with this thing still tied, Rafael Devers got the rally started with a leadoff double off of Nats reliever Ryan Madson. Two batters later, after Devers had moved up to third on a Eduardo Nunez single, Jackie Bradley Jr. came through with the clutch sacrifice fly to finally put the Red Sox on the board.
Two batters later, with Andrew Benintendi pinch-hitting for Eduardo Rodriguez, a wild pitch on ball four from Madson allowed Eduardo Nunez, who had advanced to third on that Bradley sac fly, to easily score and put his team up by two runs.
Fast forward to the ninth, and another Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI, this one coming on a double to score Eduardo Nunez all the way from first, pretty much put this game away from the Red Sox by putting them up 3-0.
One note from this W:
It is July 5th and the Red Sox are 30 games over .500. That is all.
With a trip to Kansas City up next on the schedule, the Red Sox will find themselves enjoying a day off on Thursday before kicking off a three-game weekend series against the lowly Royals on Friday. Chris Sale, who owns a career 3.16 ERA in 16 games at Kauffman Stadium, gets the ball for the opener. He’ll be matched up against veteran righty Jason Hammel for the Royals. First pitch of the first game on Friday is scheduled for 8:15 PM ET.
Also, happy belated Independence Day.