After a series-clinching 8-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, the Red Sox opened another three-game set, their last before the All-Star break, in Detroit on Friday, where they topped the lowly Tigers by a final score of 9-6.
Making his 18th start of the season for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, who picked up the win the last time he faced Detroit back in late April at Fenway Park.
This time around, in his first outing at Comerica Park in over two years, the left-hander surrendered just one earned run while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over five rain-shortened innings of work.
That one Detroit tally came in the bottom half of the fourth, when with two outs and Brandon Dixon at first, Jeimer Candelario came through with with his team’s first RBI of the night on a line-drive double to left that Xander Bogaerts was nearly able to snuff out on the relay from J.D. Martinez.
A las, Dixon narrowly evaded the tag from Sandy Leon, and the Tigers were on the board.
Other than that one blip though, Rodriguez retired four of the next five hitters he faced leading into the end of the fifth inning, where his outing came to a premature close due to the weather.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (49 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 95.4 MPH with the pitch while Leon was behind the plate.
Improving to 9-4 while also lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.65, Rodriguez will look to kick off the second half of his season in similar fashion to how he capped off his first half in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In relief of Rodriguez, Marcus Walden came on in the sixth more than two hours after the Venezuela native had thrown his last pitch, and he allowed the Tigers to climb their way back into this contest with a one-out walk of Miguel Cabrera, a one-out single from Dixon, and another run-scoring base knock off the bat of Candelario that was not handled cleanly by Mookie Betts in right field.
Seven pitches later, Harold Castro hit what appeared to be a hard line-drive back up the middle at Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, but the ball knuckled a bit, which caused the Sox outfielder to try and make a basket catch, but that did not pan out, as the ball deflected off Bradley Jr. and two more Detroit runs crossed the plate because of it.
So, in came Ryan Brasier with two outs still to get in the inning, and he got those outs, but not before allowing one of his inherited runs to score on a two-out RBI single from John Hicks, cutting Boston’s lead to just one run.
Fortunately though, Brasier ended the sixth by fanning Jordy Mercer on three straight strikes, and the right-hander also worked his way around a two-out Miguel Cabrera single in a scoreless seventh.
From there, Matt Barnes entered with a new four-run lead to protect, and he needed just 13 pitches to hurl a 1-2-3 eighth inning, punching out two along the way.
Finally, in the ninth, Heath Hembree made his first appearance since being activated off the injured list on Thursday, and he served up a solo home run to Hicks to lead things off before settling in and locking down the 9-6 win for his side.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Ryan Carpenter for Detroit, not lefty Gregory Soto as originally thought on Thursday.
With virtually no experience against Carpenter entering the weekend, Xander Bogaerts got the scoring started for Boston in the first by driving in Mookie Betts from third on an RBI groundout to short for an early 1-0 lead.
Fast forward to the third, and a red-hot Rafael Devers stayed the course following a one-out single from Betts, extending his hitting streak to nine games by blasting his 16th home run of the season, a 357-foot opposite field shot off a first-pitch, 81 MPH slider from Carpenter. 3-0.
In the sixth, with Tigers reliever Jose Cisnero on the mound after a rain delay that lasted more than two hours, a Christian Vazquez leadoff double and Michael Chavis single in consecutive order put runners at the corners for a slumping Jackie Bradley Jr.
Entering the frame 0-for-his-last 13, Bradley Jr. broke out of said skid by ripping a line-drive, RBI double down the left field line on a 2-2 heater from Cisnero, plating Vazquez and moving Chavis up to third.
Two batters and one out later, Sandy Leon followed suit and drove in Chavis by reaching on a fielding error committed by Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario.
Again with runners at first and third as the lineup turned back over, Betts made it a five-run contest with a sacrifice fly hit deeply enough to center field to score Bradley Jr. 6-1.
And in the eighth, Xander Bogaerts put an exclamation point on this one by launching his 17th big fly of the season, a 441-foot, three-run shot launched over everything in left field off Tigers reliever Austin Adams.
That dinger opened this one up and gave the Red Sox a 9-5 advantage, and after Detroit got one back in their half of the ninth, 9-6 would go on to be Friday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
The Red Sox are 3-1 since returning from London.
Rafael Devers has already hit four home runs this month, matching his total for all of June.
Eduardo Rodriguez against the Detroit Tigers this season: Two starts, 11 innings pitched, six hits, two earned runs, four walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s good for a 1.64 ERA.
Xander Bogaerts’ 441-foot home run was his longest of the Statcast era. (h/t @gfstarr1)
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle of this three-game series on Saturday afternoon.
Right-hander Rick Porcello is set to take the mound for Boston, while fellow righty Jordan Zimmermann will do the same for Detroit.
Porcello struggled mightily in his last start against the New York Yankees in London, where he gave up six runs and only managed to record one out, but he did pick up the win over his former club back on April 25th when he allowed three runs over six quality innings.
In his career at Comerica Park, the one-time Tiger owns a lifetime 4.53 ERA over 91 starts and 542 total innings pitched.
Zimmermann, meanwhile, opposed Porcello in that same game back in April and took the loss, as he yielded five runs, all earned, in just three innings of work.
In his career against the Red Sox, the 33-year-old is 2-2 with a 5.46 ERA over 31 1/3 innings.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight victory.