Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez Says He Wants to Stay in Boston

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez wants to stay in Boston. He said that much to MLB.com’s Nathalie Alonso at the 12th annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic in Miami on Sunday.

“I would love to stay with Boston,” said Rodríguez, in Spanish. “If they offer me an extension, and we come to an agreement, I would love that.”

Rodriguez, who turns 27 in April, still has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, hence the talks of a possible extension. He is projected to earn $9.5 million in 2020.

Coming off a 2019 campaign in which he finished sixth in American League Cy Young Award Voting thanks to posting a career-best 3.81 ERA and 213 strikeouts over 34 starts and 203 1/3 innings of work, Rodriguez has found himself in an intriguing spot this winter.

“It was a very important step for me, because for the first time I was able to pitch an entire season,” the Venezuela native said of his 2019 season Sunday. “That was my goal when the season started, 30 starts and throw more than 200 innings, and I was able to do it. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

The Red Sox originally acquired Rodriguez, then a 21-year-old prospect, from the Baltimore Orioles in July 2014 in exchange for left-handed reliever Andrew Miller, who went on to sign a four-year, $36 million deal with the New York Yankees that offseason.

Because of the fact he started his professional career in the Orioles organization, I was quite surprised when I read that Rodriguez said that Boston is where he began his career and that he, “would love to finish it there.”

Perhaps Rodriguez is speaking in regard to just his major-league career, but an interesting, and perhaps heartfelt, comment nonetheless.

As we all know, the Red Sox want to cut payroll while still remaining competitive in 2020, so it might be in new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s best interest to try and buy out Rodriguez’s last two years of arbitration while also locking down the lefty for a number of years at a decent rate after that.

A similar situation took place in Chicago last March, when the Cubs and right-hander Kyle Hendricks agreed to terms on a four-year, $55 million extension that does not take effect until 2020 and has a team option for 2023 attached to it.

Granted, Hendricks had one, not two years of arbitration remaining, but an extension for Rodriguez with an average annual value in the range of $13-$15 million does not seem too far-fetched.

With the Winter Meetings set to take place in San Diego next month, that may be a good time to see whether talks between the Red Sox and Rodriguez’s camp ramp up at all. If not then, perhaps spring training in February or March.

What the Immediate Future Holds for Red Sox’ New Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom

The Red Sox are holding a press conference on Monday afternoon, more than likely to formally introduce Chaim Bloom as the club’s new chief baseball officer. Brian O’Halloran, who had been serving as an assistant GM alongside Eddie Romero and Zack Scott, will also be promoted to general manager.

With these moves coming days before the Major League Baseball season comes to a close, it appears that the Red Sox are headed towards what could be a transformative kind of offseason.

The 36-year-old Bloom hasn’t even been on the job for a day to this point, yet he’ll have plenty of decisions to make and ponder once he officially begins on Monday. Here are five things that the former Rays vice president will have to decide on almost immediately.

1. The future of Mookie Betts

As we all know by now, Mookie Betts has one year remaining on his contract headed into the 2020 season. Per MLB Trade Rumors, the reigning American League MVP is projected to earn $27.7 million in his final year of salary arbitration.

Since the time spring training began in Fort Myers, Fla in February, the notion has been that principal owner John Henry and the rest of the Sox brass would prefer to keep Betts in Boston for the rest of his career. Granted, that came about seven months before Henry also said he would like to see his team get below the $208 million luxury tax threshold for 2020.

Betts himself seems gun ho on reaching free agency and testing the open market rather than agreeing to an extension with Boston.

There are multiple directions Bloom and the Red Sox could go with this. For starters, they could deal the 27-year-old outfielder for a plethora of prospects to improve what’s viewed as a weak, yet improving farm system. They could hold on to him to begin the 2020 season and then decide to deal him at the July 31st trade deadline if they are not in a competitive spot. And among other things, they could somehow convince Betts to agree to a long-term contract extension.

2. The future of Jackie Bradley Jr. 

Jackie Bradley Jr., like Betts, is entering the final year of his contract with Boston before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter. The 29-year-old is projected to earn $11 million in arbitration the coming season, per MLB Trade Rumors.

With the Red Sox wanting to slash their 2020 payroll, Bradley Jr. emerges as a potential non-tender candidate or trade candidate if the former does not happen. At that aforementioned price tag of $11 million, Bloom and co. could decide that Bradley Jr.’s inconsistent play at the place is not worth it despite the fact that he is one of the better defensive center fielders in all of baseball.

3. The state of the starting rotation in 2020

Rick Porcello’s $21 million may be coming off the books, but all of Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale dealt with injury issues in 2019 and are going to be another year older in 2020.

Per @RedSoxPayroll, the trio of Eovaldi, Price, and Sale will earn approximately $72.5 million all together next season, which is a larger amount than the Tampa Bay Rays’ payroll from this year.

Both Price and Sale were shut down at different points during the 2019 campaign, while Eovaldi, who turns 30 in February, missed more than two months of action from late April until late July while recovering from surgery to remove loose bodies from his throwing elbow.

Depending on the statuses of these three heading into the spring, it may be in Bloom’s best interest to scour the free agency or trade market for affordable starting pitching.

4. The state of the starting pitching pipeline going forward

Speaking of starting pitching, one thing that has bothered me about the Red Sox over the last few years has been their inability to develop any sort of reliable starting pitching options in the minor leagues.

Now more than ever, that needs to change. Whether it be through the amateur draft or international signings has yet to be determined.

5. Exploring contract extensions 

Outside of Mookie Betts, there a few other Red Sox worthy of contract extensions. Rafael Devers, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Brandon Workman all come to mind immediately.

Devers, who just turned 23 last week, broke out in a big way in 2019, slashing .311/.361/.555 to go along with a career-high 31 home runs and 115 runs driven in while providing solid defense at third base for most of the year.

The Dominican Republic native is due to earn somewhere around $650,000 in his final year under team control in 2020, meaning the Sox could factor that into any sort of long-term extension to stay under the $208 million luxury tax threshold, if that is what ends up happening.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, also enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, posting a career-best 19 wins in 34 starts to go along with an ERA of 3.81 and FIP of 3.86 over a career-best 203 1/3 innings of work.

The 26-year-old out of Venezuela is projected to earn $9.5 million in his third and second-to-last year of arbitration in 2020.

Workman, finally, is the oldest of the group, as he turned 31 this past August and is entering his final season of arbitration next year. MLB Trade Rumors has him earning $3.4 million.

In a career-high 73 appearances in 2019, Workman emerged as Boston’s best option to close out games, posting a 1.88 ERA and minuscule .123 batting average against over 71 2/3 innings pitched.

It’s too early to say whether or not Workman will remain the Sox’ closer entering the 2020 season, but he certainly has established himself as a legitimate late-inning reliever out of Alex Cora’s bullpen.

We really haven’t even scratched the surface with this, but it is a start. Looking forward to Monday’s press conference.

Red Sox’ Mookie Betts Projected to Earn $27.7 Million in Final Year of Arbitration, per MLB Trade Rumors

MLB Trade Rumors released their ninth annual salary arbitration projections for all 30 major league clubs pertaining to the 2020 season earlier Wednesday, and according to their initial model, the Red Sox have 12 arbitration-eligible players.

As indicated above, All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts is projected to earn a record-setting $27.7 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter.

Since about the time the Sox were eliminated from postseason contention last month, most of the attention regarding the club has turned to what the future holds for Betts.

The recently turned 27-year-old has established himself as one of, if not the best corner outfielder in all of baseball and appears set to test the free agency waters in 2020.

That said, the Red Sox would surely like to keep Betts in Boston beyond next season and have made a handful of extension offers in order to make that happen. There seems to be this notion that Betts does not want to play in Boston even though he has shut that speculation down himself several times.

With how unlikely the chances of Betts agreeing to a contract extension before hitting the open market seem, a trade involving the 2018 American League MVP have come into question.

A player of Betts’ caliber has the ability to replenish Boston’s farm system to a certain extent if that is the direction they so choose, but he is also not a player you come across everyday either.

In regard to analytics, Betts’ has accumulated the second-most fWAR in all of baseball since the start of the 2015 season (35.4), trailing only Mike Trout (44.2) over that time period.

I understand that the Red Sox are hoping to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for next season, which would require cutting a serious amount of payroll, but if you are still trying to compete for a postseason spot, or you are telling your fans that anyway, then I just do not see how you can deal a player who makes your team seriously better.

Anyway, I kind of went on a rant there, so here are the rest of the Red Sox’ arbitration projections, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:

  • Jackie Bradley Jr. – $11 milliom
  • Sandy Leon – $2.8 million
  • Chris Owings – $3.0 million
  • Mookie Betts – $27.7 million
  • Brandon Workman – $3.4 million
  • Steven Wright – $1.5 million
  • Eduardo Rodriguez – $9.5 million
  • Matt Barnes – $3.0 million
  • Heath Hembree – $1.6 million
  • Andrew Benintendi – $4.9 million
  • Marco Hernandez – $700K
  • Gorkys Hernandez – $1.0 million

Out of the names above, some are likely to get non-tendered, while others like Andrew Benintendi and Marco Hernandez are entering arbitration for the first time in their careers and will see decently significant raises in pay.

Eduardo Rodriguez Falls Short of 20th Win, Rafael Devers Picks up 200th Hit, and Mookie Betts Scores Winning Run as Red Sox Walk off Orioles in 2019 Season Finale

After dropping their penultimate game of the year with a 9-4 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, the Red Sox bounced back and wrapped up their 2019 season in style, as they walked off the O’s in nine innings in a 5-4 victory on Sunday.

Making his 34th and final start of the season for Boston on Sunday was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the weekend just one winning decision of 20 and 3 2/3 innings shy of 200.

Tossing seven full innings to surpass that 200-mark on the season, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned against his former club on four hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

All three of those Baltimore tallies came in the top half of the third, when with one out and runners on the corners, back-to-back RBI knocks from Hanser Alberto and Austin Hays got the Orioles on the board first.

One mound visit from pitching coach Dana LeVangie later, and Rodriguez allowed the third run of the frame to come in on a fielder’s choice out off the bat of Trey Mancini.

Other than that bit of trouble though, the Venezuela native settled in nicely from the beginning of the fourth inning on, retiring 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced leading into the middle of the seventh, the point in which his outing came to an impressive close with an emphatic six-pitch punchout of Richie Martin.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 115 (71 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 48% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing 14 swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately unable to get that vaunted 20th win due to what transpired later on, Rodriguez finishes his fourth full season with the Red Sox with a 19-6 record, a 3.91 ERA, and a career-high 231 strikeouts over 34 outings and 203 1/3 total innings pitched.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes came on for one final time in the eighth with a brand new one-run lead to protect, and he could not do that, as he allowed the game-tying run, which was unearned, to cross the plate on a two-out RBI single from Jonathan Villar.

No 20th win for Rodriguez, all while Barnes was charged with his eighth blown save of 2019.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman fanned the only three Orioles he faced on just 15 pitches to send this one to the bottom half of the inning with a 4-4 stalemate intact, and that eventually earned him his 10th and final winning decision.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an old friend in Orioles right-hander Chandler Shepherd, who was with the PawSox up until May of this year before being designated for assignment.

Kicking off the scoring in the third just as Baltimore did, the Boston bats quickly responded from an early three-run hole by plating two of their own on back-to-back one-out, run-scoring hits courtesy of Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and a leadoff walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts, single from J.D. Martinez, and another walk drawn by Mitch Moreland brought Christian Vazquez to the plate in a one-run game with the bases full.

Up against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong, Vazquez delivered with a line-drive RBI single to left to drive in Bogaerts and knot things up at three runs apiece.

An inning later, it was the top of the lineup getting things done once more, this time with Devers reaching base with a one-out double off Evan Phillips, his 200th hit of the season, and Bogaerts scoring him on an RBI single to the opposite field. 4-3.

That probably should have been good enough to get Rodriguez his 20th win, but as already mentioned, the Orioles rallied and tied things up in their half of the eighth.

In the bottom half of that eighth, it looked as though the Sox had jumped in front again, as Jackie Bradley Jr. crushed an 0-1, 95 MPH heater from Mychal Givens with two outs and Brock Holt on at first.

Instead of mashing his 22nd homer of the year though, Bradley Jr. was downright robbed by Stevie Wilkerson in right field, as the O’s outfielder sprawled out to take away what surely was a two-run shot. The .980 xBA on that line drive is quite evident of that statement.

So, the two sides headed into the ninth still in a 4-4 tie, and after Brandon Workman did what he had to do in the top half, Betts did what he had to do to lead off the bottom half.

Yup, the reigning American League MVP drew a six-pitch walk off of Dillon Tate in what very well could have been his last plate appearance as a Red Sox.

That brought Devers up to the plate for a fifth time, and all he did was rip a single through the right side of the infield. One that was certainly good enough to advance the runner on base up to third, but as he is known to do, Betts caught the opposition off guard and made the trek towards the promised land.

By the time the right fielder Wilkerson caught on to this, Betts was well on his way to sliding safely into home, as the Red Sox came away with a 5-4 walk-off win in their final game of 2019.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

 

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

So, the Red Sox finish their World Series-defending campaign with a final mark of 84-78, 19 games off the pace of the New York Yankees for the American League East crown and 12 games off the pace of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

To say the 2019 season was underwhelming would be an understatement, but there was still plenty to remember and definitely plenty to reflect on and learn from.

As I have said before, there are plenty of questions surrounding this club headed into the offseason, and they’ll have about four weeks to get a head start on those discussions.

Will Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr. be traded? Will J.D. Martinez opt out of his current deal? Will Brock Holt be offered a new contract? These are all uncertainties at the moment, and only time will tell on how these issues are resolved.

That is for another time though. For now, it’s a good time to unpack, reflect, and say thanks.

Pitchers and catchers report in a little under five months.

Xander Bogaerts and J.D Martinez Both Homer but Red Sox Drop Second Straight to Orioles

After managing just one run in a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox saw their losing streak increase to three on Saturday, as they fell to the O’s by a final score of 9-4 to guarantee at best a series loss at Fenway Park to cap off the 2019 season.

Making his fifth and final start of the season for Boston was Jhoulys Chacin, who came into the weekend having given up four runs in back-to-back outings.

Working into the third inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered another four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

The first pair of those Baltimore tallies came right away in the top half of the first, when with no outs and Jonathan Villar at second following a leadoff double, D.J Stewart unloaded on a 1-1, down and in, 91 MPH four-seam fastball from Chacin and sent it 408 feet over the Orioles’ bullpen to get his side on the board early.

An inning later, after the Sox offense pushed across three runs of their own in their half of the first, the home run ball came back to bite Chacin once more, as the Venezuela native served up a one-out solo shot to Richie Martin off a 1-1, 90 MPH two-seamer on the inner half of the plate. 3-3 ballgame.

In what would turn out to be his final frame, Chacin was just one out away from getting through three full, but he could not sneak a 1-0, 91 MPH two-seamer past a seemingly red-hot Renato Nunez, who proceeded to crush his second homer of the series to make it a 4-3 contest.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 60 (38 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 52% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.7 MPH with his heater, a pitch he threw nine times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately getting hit with his 12th loss while raising his ERA on the year up to 6.01, Chacin’s tenure with the Red Sox may indeed be over.

Since inking a minor-league deal with the club in late August, the ex-Milwaukee Brewer posted a 7.36 ERA in six outings (five starts) and 14 2/3 innings pitched with Boston.

In relief of Chacin, left-hander Bobby Poyner entered the top of the third with one out to get, and he walked Chris Davis on six pitches before doing just that.

From there, Heath Hembree fanned one in a perfect fourth inning, Ryan Brasier walked one and punched out two in a scoreless fifth, Andrew Cashner struggled and yielded four runs on five hits while only recording the first two outs of the sixth, Colten Brewer retired the side in the sixth before tossing a scoreless seventh, and Josh Smith walked one in the eighth before getting taken deep by Trey Mancini in the ninth to increase his side’s deficit to five at 9-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up a fairly familiar foe in Orioles rookie left-hander John Means, someone who held them to two runs over six innings the last time he faced them back on July 19th.

Down by two runs before even taking their first at-bats, Jackie Bradley Jr. quickly got things going in the bottom half of the first with a leadoff single.

Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts knotted things up with one swing of the bat, as he came through with his 33rd home run of the season, this one coming off a 2-2, 81 MPH changeup from Means and being hit a projected 414 feet over the Green Monster.

Before fans even had the chance to settle down from that two-run blast, J.D. Martinez followed suit by mashing his 36th big fly of the year, a 389-foot bomb, to put the Sox in front at 3-2.

Fast forward to the fifth, and it looked as though the top half of the lineup was about to come through again, with Rafael Devers representing the tying run at second and Bogaerts the go-ahead at first with two outs and Martinez coming to the plate.

A las, Martinez could not deliver this time up, as he flew out deep to right and would wind up being the last hitter Means faced.

An inning later, a leadoff walk drawn by Sam Travis against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong in a now five-run game would result in another Boston run coming across to score with Sandy Leon picking up his 19th ribbie of 2019 on a bloop of a two-out RBI single. 8-4.

In the seventh, a one-out single from Bogaerts followed by a one-out walk from Martinez and fielder’s choice off the bat of Travis put runners at second and third for Brock Holt against right-hander Branden Kline.

Having never faced Kline before Saturday, all Holt could do was ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, thus killing another shot at a potential rally.

And after squandering another chance in the eighth, Devers, Bogaerts, and Martinez went down in order in the ninth, as 9-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left nine men on base as a team.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Well, this is it. One last game to wrap up what has been an underwhelming World Series-defending campaign.

In terms of season milestones, Mookie Betts is one homer away from 30, Rafael Devers is two hits away from 200, and Sunday’s starter Eduardo Rodriguez is 3 2/3 innings away from 200 and one win away from 20.

Through three starts against Baltimore this season, Rodriguez is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.29 and OPS against of .522 over 21 total innings pitched.

The Orioles’ starter for Sunday, meanwhile, will be former Red Sox prospect Chandler Shepherd.

The 27-year-old right-hander was designated by Boston back on May 17th of this year in order to add catcher Oscar Hernandez to the 40-man roster when Sandy Leon was placed on the paternity leave list.

In four appearances (two starts) for Baltimore, Shepherd owns a 7.71 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 14 total innings of work.

Sunday could very well be the last time we see the core members of the 2018 Red Sox on the field together.

Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, and Rick Porcello are all soon-to-be free agents, J.D. Martinez could opt out of his current deal to become a free agent, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. may be traded, and even though he will not be playing, Steve Pearce might retire from baseball.

With all this uncertainty surrounding the Red Sox headed into the offseason, Sunday will provide us with one last chance to soak it all in.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to end the season on a high note.

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Fans 10 Over Six Strong Innings, Picks up 18th Win as Red Sox Hold on to Salvage Series Against Giants

After dropping the first two games of their last interleague series of the year against the San Francisco Giants on on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Red Sox were able to salvage a little something with a tight 5-4 victory on a get away day Thursday to improve to 80-72 on the season.

Making his 32nd start of the season for Boston and second straight of the interleague variety was Eduardo Rodriguez, who yielded just one run over 6 2/3 innings in his last time out against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tossing six full frames this time around, the left-hander surrendered just one more once more, this one unearned, on two hits and two walks to go along with exactly 10 strikeouts on the afternoon.

That lone San Francisco tally came right away in the top half of the first, when with one out and runners on the corners following a Mauricio Dubon leadoff single and Kevin Pillar reaching first on a fielder’s choice and fielding error committed by Marco Hernandez that allowed Dubon to advance to third, Evan Longoria got his side on the board first with a sacrifice fly to left.

Other than that one blip though, Rodriguez really settled in beginning in the second, retiring 14 of the final 17 hitters he faced with some help from Christian Vazquez throwing Jaylin Davis out at second to end that second inning.

Finishing with a nice final pitch count of 107 (69 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 60% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing 14 of 21 total swings and misses and topping out at 94.7 MPH while Vazquez was behind the plate.

Eventually earning his 18th winning decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 3.53, the chance for Rodriguez to reach the 20-win milestone is still there, as he has two starts remaining before season’s end. The first of those will come against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

In relief of Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier entered the seventh with a four-run cushion to work with, and he punched out two in a scoreless frame.

From there, Marcus Walden got the first two outs of the eighth in fairly simple fashion, but a two-out walk of Dubon and back-to-back knocks from the pinch-hitting Mike Yastrzemski and Pillar cut Boston’s advantage down to two with Pillar driving in two on a bases-clearing double.

So, with the tying run at the plate in the form of Longoria, in came Matt Barnes to try and clean the mess left behind by Walden, and he filled the bases on the first two Giants he faced before fanning the pinch-hitting Stephen Vogt on six pitches to get out of the jam.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman had an interesting time of things, as he loaded the bases full of Giants with no outs, struck out the next two, walked another to make it a 5-4 contest, but held on to secure the one-run win and his 15th save of 2019 by fanning Longoria on a 3-2, 82 MPH knuckle-curveball in the dirt. Meltdown averted.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly unfamiliar foe in Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who made his first career start at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Trailing by a run before even taking their first at-bats of the afternoon, Andrew Benintendi kicked off his side’s half of the first with a leadoff double.

A seven-pitch walk drawn by Christian Vazquez brought Rafael Devers to the plate for the first time with runners at first and second, and he came through with a hard-hit RBI single to right to plate Benintendi from second and knot things up at one run apiece.

Xander Bogaerts followed suit with a run-scoring single of his own off of Bumgarner to drive in Vazquez from third, and just like that, the Sox had their first lead at 2-1.

An inning later, it was the top of the lineup getting it done yet again, with Benintendi and Vazquez both reaching on two-out singles to set the table once more for Devers and Bogaerts.

Devers maintained his career 1.000 clip against Bumgarner with a bloop of an RBI single to center to score Benintendi and also advance to second, while Bogaerts drove in both Vazquez and Devers on a two-run single through the right side of the infield.

Bogaerts’ second and third RBI on the afternoon gave the Red Sox a relatively commanding 5-1 edge in the second, and after the Giants drove in three runs of their own in their half of the eighth and ninth innings, 5-4 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the last road trip of the 2019 campaign, beginning with a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston in the opener, while fellow veteran righty Charlie Morton will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Porcello is coming off his best start of the month in his last outing against the Phillies, giving up two runs over five strong innings of work.

In three starts against the Rays this season, the 30-year-old is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA and .315 batting average against over 17 1/3 total innings pitched.

Morton, meanwhile, shined the last time he faced the Sox at Tropicana Field back on July 24th, striking out 11 and scattering two runs and five hits over seven quality frames in an eventual win.

Since that time, the 36-year-old owns an ERA of 4.59 and batting average against of .265 over his last nine starts spanning 51 innings pitched.

Headed into this weekend, the Rays are a 1/2 game up on the Cleveland Indians for the second American League Wild Card spot, so the Red Sox will have the chance to spoil the postseason hopes of their division rivals if things go accordingly.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to play spoiler.

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Punches out 12, Andrew Benintendi Drives in Game-Winning Run With Pinch-Hit Sacrifice Fly as Red Sox Take Opener From Phillies

After a rare off day on a Friday, the Red Sox kicked off the second leg of their five-game road trip by taking the first of two from the Philadelphia Phillies in a tight 2-1 win to improve to 78-70 on the season.

Making his 31st start of the season for Boston and third in a National League ballpark was Eduardo Rodriguez, who came into the weekend fresh off six one-run innings in his last time out against the New York Yankees.

Working into the seventh inning this time around, the left-hander continued to impress, holding the Phillies to just one earned run on four hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with a season-high 12 strikeouts on the night.

That lone Philadelphia tally came in that bottom half of the seventh, when after retiring 18 of the first 20 hitters he faced, Rodriguez served up a leadoff single to Bryce Harper.

Back-to-back punchouts of Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery brought the Venezuela native to within one out of escaping the frame, but a Cesar Hernandez single, Adam Haseley HBP, and six-pitch walk of Maikel Franco prevented that from happening.

Instead, Franco drove in Harper from third on that free pass, the Phillies had their first run of the contest, and Rodriguez’s evening came to a close, as Sox manager Alex Cora turned to his bullpen.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 105 (70 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his changeup more than 37% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing 16 swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 28 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 3.64, Rodriguez’s quest for 20 wins this season appears to be over, but he still has a realistic shot at surpassing the 200-inning plateau for the first time in his career. He’ll look to continue that pursuit in his next time out, which should come against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

In relief of Rodriguez, left-hander Josh Taylor entered in quite the jam with the bases full and one out to get in the seventh, and he got that out by fanning the pinch-hitting Phil Gosselin on six pitches.

From there, Matt Barnes worked his way around a leadoff single and stolen base from Jean Segura and one-out intentional walk of Harper in a scoreless eighth to make way for Brandon Workman in the ninth.

Workman did yield a leadoff walk to Hernandez to put the tying run on base immediately for Philadelphia, but he did not fold, striking out Hasely, getting Jay Bruce to fly out to right, and finally fanning Logan Morrison on a 2-2, 88 MPH cutter on the outer edge of the plate to lock down the 2-1 victory and earn his 13th save of the season.

On the other side of things, a Mookie Betts-less Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies ace right-hander Aaron Nola, someone who held them to two runs over seven strong innings the last time these two clubs met up at Fenway Park in August.

Struggling to get anything going against Nola once more on Saturday, it was not until Rafael Devers drew a nine-pitch walk to lead off the seventh when the bats finally came through.

J.D. Martinez followed with a ground ball single back up the middle to move Devers up to second, and after Mitch Moreland fanned for the first out of the inning, Christian Vazquez delivered with the biggest hit of the night, plating Devers from second on a line-drive RBI single shot through the left-center field gap. His 25th two-bagger of the year put the Sox up 1-0 late.

Fast forward to the ninth, after the Phillies responded with a run of their own in the eighth, and a Moreland leadoff single off new reliever Hector Neris brought Vazquez to the plate.

Having never faced off against Neris before Saturday, Vazquez took a 2-1, 95 MPH heater down the heart of the plate and came through yet again, this time advancing the pinch-running Chris Owings all the way up to third on a hard-hit single to center. A little hit-and-run action.

A one-out walk drawn by the pinch-hitting Brock Holt loaded the bases for another pinch-hitter in the form of Andrew Benintendi.

The slumping Benintendi came into this one just 1-for-his-last-26 at the plate, but that did not stop him from elevating a sacrifice fly to left on the first pitch he saw from Neris, one that gave Owings more than enough time to come in and score from third.

That RBI sac fly gave the Red Sox the 2-1 lead, and that would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this two-game weekend series and five-game road swing on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston, while veteran left-hander Jason Vargas will do the same for Philadelphia.

Porcello has surrendered six runs and gone four innings deep in his last two starts since the calendars flipped to September. The Red Sox have lost both of those games.

Last time he faced the Phillies back on August 21st, the 30-year-old allowed three runs to score in five innings of work before eventually taking the loss. He has made two career starts at Citizens Bank Park, posting a 2.77 ERA and .167 batting average against over 13 total innings pitched.

Vargas, meanwhile, joined the Phillies from the New York Mets in July and has pitched to the tune of a 5.01 ERA and .293 batting average against in eight starts and 41 1/3 innings of work since the move.

The 36-year-old has made eight career starts against the Red Sox and owns a lifetime 3.48 ERA and .255 batting average against over 51 2/3 innings pitched in that span.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to return the favor and complete the two-game sweep.