A clean-shaven Eduardo Rodriguez led the Red Sox to a 4-0 shutout victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.
Rodriguez, making his 18th start of the year for Boston, kicked off the second half of his season with a bang by keeping New York off the scoreboard while scattering just two hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 solid innings of work.
The left-hander gave up a leadoff single to the very first hitter he faced in D.J. LeMahieu, but nullified it immediately by getting Giancarlo Stanton to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.
After ending the first inning and issuing a leadoff walk to Gary Sanchez to begin things in the second, Rodriguez proceeded to retire the next 11 Yankees who came to the plate against him in consecutive order before walking Chris Gittens on five pitches.
A fielding error committed by Bobby Dalbec allowed Gittens to advance to third, but Rodriguez rebounded by punching out Tim Locastro to retire the side. He then got the first two outs of the seventh rather simply before a two-out double off the bat of Odor marked the end of his evening.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (57 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler was able to improve to 7-5 on the season while lowering his ERA to 5.19, which is the lowest it has been since May 23 (5.06). His next start should come against the Yankees once again again back at Fenway Park on July 22.
In relief of Rodriguez, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he got out of the sixth by getting Sanchez to ground out to first base.
Houck earns first career save in return
From there, Tanner Houck — fresh off getting recalled from Triple-A Worcester — came on for his first big-league outing in nearly three months.
The 25-year-old right-hander maneuvered his way around a two-out walk and single in an otherwise clean bottom half of the seventh, tossed a scoreless eighth inning, and shut the door on the Yankees in the ninth to preserve the 4-0 win for his side and pick up the first save of his career.
Houck is now lined up to start against the Blue Jays in Buffalo next Wednesday, July 21.
Arroyo and Martinez power Red Sox offense
On the other side of things, the Jarren Duran-less Red Sox were matched up against Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery to begin things on Friday.
After going down in order in the first, a leadoff walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts set the tone for the Sox in the second.
That being the case because Rafael Devers followed by ripping a double off Montgomery to put runners in scoring position, which allowed Hunter Renfroe to bring in a run on an RBI groundout to shortstop to give Boston an early 1-0 lead.
A flyout from Christian Vazquez brought Montgomery within one out of escaping the inning, but Christian Arroyo would not let the southpaw off that easily, as he took a 2-1, 82 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate and crushed it 409 feet to the opposite field for his sixth home run of the season.
Arroyo’s two-run blast put the Red Sox up 3-0, but Montgomery held his own from there, and it was not until their half of the eighth when the Boston bats got going again.
There, facing off against Yankees reliever Justin Wilson with two outs in the inning, J.D. Martinez deposited an 0-2, 94 mph fastball 391 feet to right-center field for his 19th big fly of the year.
In addition to picking up his 19th homer, Martinez also extended his on-base streak to 29 consecutive games dating back to June 10.
On Martinez’s solo shot, the Red Sox jumped out to a commanding 4-0 lead over the Yankees, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.
7-0 vs. NYY
With the victory, the Sox put an end to a mini two-game skid to improve to 56-36 on the season while also maintaining a 1 1/2 game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.
They are now a perfect 7-0 against the Yankees this year.
Next up: Eovaldi vs. Cole
Saturday’s pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees will feature a pair of All-Stars going at it, with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Gerrit Cole doing the same for New York.
In sending Eovaldi to the mound, the Red Sox will look to secure their third straight series victory over the Yankees.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.
(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)