For the first time this season, the Red Sox have won back-to-back games following a 6-4 victory to open up a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
Entering Friday, Red Sox starting pitchers ranked dead last in all of baseball in terms of ERA as a group (8.79). Eduardo Rodriguez had the chance to improve that mark in his first outing in front of the Fenway faithful since last year, and that he did.
Making his third start of the season overall, Rodriguez put together the best start from any Red Sox starter 14 games into 2019, as he surrendered just two earned runs on three hits and no walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the night.
Retiring the first 14 Orioles hitters he faced in this one, the left-hander’s bid for a perfect game came to an end when Hanser Alberto grounded a two-out single to left in the top half of the fifth.
After a seemingly clean sixth inning, Rodriguez’s evening would come to a close an inning later following a one out double from Trey Mancini and a two out, two-run home run off the bat of Dwight Smith Jr to make it a one-run contest at the time it was hit.
That homer, the third Rodriguez has yielded this season already, may have been on the last pitch the Venezuela native threw, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless, especially when you take the zero walks into consideration.
Working at a quick tempo all night, Rodriguez finished with a final pitch count of 93 (62 strikes). In total, he topped out at 95.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 48 times and got eight swinging strikes out of.
It was the first time a Red Sox starter has pitched into the seventh inning this season. Rodriguez’s next start should come against the New York Yankees next week.
In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen limited the Orioles bats to two runs over the final 3.1 innings of this one.
Matt Barnes, who entered this contest after Rodriguez gave up that two-run homer to Smith, retired the side in the seventh while also recording two strikeouts.
Brandon Workman worked his way around a two out walk and received some tremendous assistance from Jackie Bradley Jr. to keep it a one-run game in the eighth.
And in the ninth, Tyler Thornburg came on for his first relief appearance since Tuesday with a four-run cushion to work with, but trimmed his team’s lead in half after serving up another two-run dinger to Renato Nunez.
Thornburg did manage to record one out before making way for Ryan Brasier, who earned his third save of the season by retiring the final two hitters he faced, including Chris Davis on that third and final out. Davis is now 0-for-his-last-54 at the plate dating back to 2018.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles right-hander David Hess to start this one out on Friday.
It took a little while for them to get going, but once the Red Sox bats began to figure Hess out, the hard contact was consistently there, and that was evident by Andrew Benintendi going deep the first time this season with a third inning solo shot to give his team an early lead.
An inning later, Mitch Moreland got a two-run rally started by lining a leadoff single up the middle for his second hit of the night. He would come around to score on a 106 MPH RBI double courtesy of Xander Bogaerts, who also crossed the plate on another hard-hit RBI knock from Eduardo Nunez. 3-0.
Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after Christian Vazquez had scored Boston’s fourth run on a wild pitch from Orioles reliever Paul Fry in the seventh, and Nunez was back at it again. This time delivering with his second RBI single of the night to plate JD Martinez from third and advance Xander Bogaerts from second.
Bogaerts, with one run scored under his belt already, would also score his team’s sixth and final run of the day thanks to a Jackie Bradley Jr. sacrifice fly. That made it a 6-2 game, which is all the runs the Red Sox would need to pick up the win.
Some notes from this win:
In 10 games, this month, Mitch Moreland is slashing .313/.371/1.152 with four home runs and nine RBI.
Through seven appearances this season, Brandon Workman has given up just one hit and three walks over 6.1 total scoreless innings.
The Red Sox are 2-0 in their last two games and 3-1 in their last four.
Next up for the Red Sox, it will be a starting pitching matchup that features two veteran right-handers in the form of Andrew Cashner for Baltimore and Rick Porcello for Boston.
Cashner, 32, last made a start at Fenway Park when he was the Texas Rangers in 2017. He gave up five runs over five innings in a losing effort in that outing, and comes into Saturday with a 5.28 ERA on the 2019 season so far.
Porcello, meanwhile, has yet to make it to the sixth inning through two forgettable starts this year.
In his career against the Orioles, the 30-year-old hurler is 6-11 with a lifetime 4.62 ERA over a span of 20 starts and 122.1 innings pitched.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third consecutive win.