J.D. Martinez Batting Cleanup, Starting in Right Field for Red Sox in Players’ Weekend Opener Against Padres

After walking off the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, the Red Sox open up an eight-game, three-city west coast trip on Friday night, beginning with the first of three against the 59-67 San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

So far this season, the Sox are an underwhelming 3-7 in interleague play, with two of those losses coming this past week at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Since these three games will be played at a National League ballpark, Boston loses the designated hitter, meaning J.D. Martinez will slide over to right field and bat out of the cleanup spot for the series opener against the Pads on Friday.

In 17 games as a right fielder so far this year, the recently turned 32-year-old slugger is slashing .319/.397/.638 with six home runs and 12 RBI over 78 plate appearances.

With that move to the outfield for Martinez, Mookie Betts slides over to center and Andrew Benintendi remains in left, while Jackie Bradley Jr. gets the night off.

As the above tweet indicates, Friday is also the opening night of Players’ Weekend 2019, a weekend where the Red Sox have yet to win a single game since its inception in 2017.

Yup, they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles at home in 2017, and swept on the road by the Tampa Bay Rays last year, which marked the only time they were swept over the course of a dominant 2018 campaign.

The Red Sox are 4-2 all-time against the Padres at Petco Park, winning series’ there in both 2007 and 2016.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 10:10 PM EDT on NESN. Eduardo Rodriguez going against Chris Paddack.

Also, here are some of the cleats different Red Sox will be sporting this weekend.

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Brock Holt Comes Through in Clutch with 10th Inning Walk-Off Single as Red Sox Top Royals in Game That Started and Was Suspended on August 7th

It took all of 12 minutes, but the Red Sox picked up where they left off two weeks ago and walked off the Kansas City Royals in a 5-4 extra-innings win on Thursday afternoon.

In a game that initially began on August 7th and went into extras knotted at four runs apiece, weather delayed and eventually suspended play at around 12:40 AM the next morning.

Left-hander Josh Taylor was on the mound for Boston at that time of the delay, down in a 2-1 count against Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria.

Fast forward to Thursday, and Taylor began things the same way, except against the pinch-hitting Nick Dini for Kansas City.

The 26-year-old got the first out of the 10th on a first-pitch lineout off the bat of Dini before punching out the next hitter he faced and getting the last, Bubba Starling, taking the place of current Atlanta Brave Billy Hamilton, on a grounder to short to retire the side.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 13 (seven strikes), Taylor topped out at 94.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw five times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Eventually earning his first career winning decision this one, Taylor has proven to be quite the asset out of the Red Sox bullpen this season. In his last 15 appearances, he owns an ERA of 1.76 to go along with 20 strikeouts over 15 1/3 innings of work.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Royals left-handed reliever Richard Lovelady to kick off the bottom half of the 10th.

An Andrew Benintendi strikeout and Christian Vazquez first-pitch double, followed by a change that saw Chris Owings take over for Vazquez at second, brought the pinch-hitting Sam Travis to the plate, who was intentionally put on first with Brock Holt due to hit for Boston.

Holt made the Royals pay dearly for that decision though, as the Jimmy Fund captain took the third pitch he saw from Lovelady, a 1-1, 88 MPH slider on the outer half of the plate, and laced a game-winning RBI single down the left field line to drive in Owings and send everyone home happy with a 5-4 victory.

Some notes from this win:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

It took more than two weeks, but the Red Sox were at last able to take the three-game set from the Royals to improve to 68-61 on the year.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s another three-city west coast road trip, beginning with a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Friday.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is set to get the ball in the opener for Boston, while rookie right-hander Chris Paddack will do the same for San Diego.

Rodriguez was borderline brilliant in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles, tossing 7 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball in a shutout win.

In his career in interleague play, the 26-year-old owns a lifetime 3.61 ERA and .257 batting average against over 13 starts and 77 1/3 innings pitched. He is also a lifetime 0-for-13 hitter with one seven strikeouts and one sacrifice bunt.

Paddack, meanwhile, has had an impressive rookie campaign overall, but has struggled a bit since the All-Star break, posting a 4.96 ERA and .223 batting average against over his last six starts and 32 2/3 innings of work.

Against American League clubs this season, the 23-year-old is 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA in three starts and 17 1/3 total innings pitched against the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, and Baltimore Orioles.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 10:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to snap a two-game losing streak, technically.

Eduardo Rodriguez Impresses and Rafael Devers Homers as Red Sox Blank Orioles to Extend Winning Streak to Four

After cruising to a 9-1 win to open up a three-game weekend set with the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox took the series with a 4-0 shutout win over the O’s on Saturday to extend their winning streak to four and improve to 66-59 on the season.

Making his 26th start of the season for Boston and third against Baltimore was Eduardo Rodriguez, who came into the weekend having given up a season-high 10 hits in his last time out against the Cleveland Indians.

Working into the eighth inning this time around, the left-hander kept his former club off the scoreboard, scattering just four hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The most trouble Rodriguez came into on Saturday came in the top half of the fourth, when a leadoff walk of Trey Mancini and two-out walk of Jonathan Villar put runners at first and second for Pedro Severino.

Rodriguez did not waver though, as he got the Baltimore backstop to ground into an inning-ending out at second and proceeded to sit down 10 of the next 12 Orioles he faced before yielding a one-out single to Hanser Albeto in the eighth, which is the point where the Venezuela native’s evening came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 106 (70 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on both his four-seam fastball and changeup a combined 58% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing four swings and misses with the heater and five with the change. He also topped out at 95.7 MPH with the four-seamer while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately earning his 14th winning decision to reach a new career-high while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.10, Rodriguez will look to build on this strong performance in his next time out, which should come against the San Diego Padres next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes entered the eighth with a four-run lead to protect and an inherited runner on at first, and he allowed that runner to advance to third on a Mancini single and wild pitch before escaping the jam by punching out Anthony Santander and Renato Nunez in consecutive order.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman preserved the 4-0 shutout win by fanning a pair himself in a scoreless frame of relief.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against O’s right-hander Adrian Wojciechowski, someone who held them scoreless in Baltimore just last month.

Able to get on the board against the Orioles starter in his first ever appearance at Fenway Park, Brock Holt kicked off the scoring in the fifth with a bang, as he led the inning off by mashing his second home run of the season off a first-pitch, 90 MPH four-seamer at the top of the zone.

That was also Holt’s first homer since returning to the Sox after mourning the loss of his junior college baseball coach Derwood “Pops” Penney. A pretty special moment for him to say the least.

A Jackie Bradley Jr. triple to follow up that big fly kept the pressure on Wojciechowski, and he faltered even further by allowing Bradley Jr. to score from third on a wild pitch with Mookie Betts at the plate.

Fast forward to the seventh, with left-handed reliever Paul Fry in for Baltimore, and Betts put a runner in scoring position for Rafael Devers with a two-out double off the left field wall.

Three pitches later, Devers came through and doubled his side’s lead with a two-run, 365-foot blast off an 0-2, 93 MPH heater from Fry.

Devers’ 26th home run of 2019 put the Red Sox ahead 4-0, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From the Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Rafael Devers’ last seven games: .500/.543/.969 with three homers and 10 RBI.

With the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays both winning on Saturday, the Red Sox still stand 6 1/2 games back of the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game series on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston in his first start since April 17th, while left-hander Ty Blach will do the same for Baltimore.

Eovaldi is expected to throw between 55-60 pitches and hopes to work the first four innings Sunday before increasing his workload next week.

In his career against the O’s, the 29-year-old is 3-0 with a 4.67 ERA and .310 batting average against over seven prior starts and 34 2/3 innings of work.

Blach, meanwhile, allowed seven runs, six of which were earned, in his Orioles debut against the New York Yankees on August 12th after being claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants earlier in the month.

The 28-year-old has never faced the Red Sox nor pitched at Fenway Park before in his career.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the weekend sweep.

Red Sox Starting Pitching Has Been Abysmal Since the All-Star Break

The Red Sox entered the 2019 All-Star break winners of five of their last six after returning from London. At 49-41 headed into the four-day hiatus last month, they stood just two games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Since that time, the 2019 campaign has begun to unravel for the defending World Series champions. That much is evident by how this current eight-game tail spin now has them at 10-14 since the break, which is the fourth-worst record in the American League over that span behind only the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and Seattle Mariners, three teams not trying to compete for anything this year.

Despite those poor results, the Red Sox lead all of baseball over that time in runs scored, as they have plated 143 runs over their last 24 games. or in other words, are averaging 5.94 runs per game since the All-Star break.

Sure, there have been some blowouts mixed in there that may skew the numbers, but it goes without saying that the Sox have one of the better offenses in baseball that can compete with anyone at any given time.

That said, it becomes difficult to continuosly produce at a rampant rate when you’re falling behind early in games, which leads me to my next point.

To put it simply, Red Sox starting pitchers have not carried their weight this season.

David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, and Chris Sale are four of the highest paid non-position players on this staff, earning $31 million, $20.6 million, $16.9 million, and $15 million in 2019 respectively.

Per FanGraphs, Boston starters rank 20th out of the 30 big league clubs in ERA (5.07) and 14th in fWAR (8.3) since the start of the season. Going back to the start of the second half, they rank 27th in ERA (6.40) and 27th in fWAR (0.3) over these last 24 games.

The rotation was supposed to be the strength of this Red Sox team and instead has turned into one of their bigger weaknesses. The fact that the Sox are 17-27 in games started by Price or Sale this year is crazy enough.

Among qualified American League starters, Porcello ranks second-to-last in ERA (.574) and third-to-last in xFIP (5.27) through 22 starts and 122 1/3 innings pitches so far this season.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, has been moved to the bullpen after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow back in April.

Andrew Cashner was brought over from the Baltimore Orioles in a three-player trade last month in hopes of stabilizing the back-end of Boston’s rotation.

The 32-yar-old has averaged close to six innings per start since making his Red Sox debut on July 16th, but he has also surrendered 18 earned runs over 23 1/3 innings pitched in that four start span, which is good for an ERA of 6.94.

Eduardo Rodriguez has been one of the few bright spots pitching-wise for Boston overall, as he leads the team in starts (23), wins (13), innings pitched (135 1/3), and ERA (4.19).

All in all, if the Red Sox have any shot of digging themselves out this hole they have dug for themselves in the Wild Card race, starting pitching needs to improve immensely. If it doesn’t, the 2019 season will more than likely go for naught.

Red Sox Held in Check by James Paxton, Drop Fifth Straight in 4-2 Loss to Yankees

After getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park during the week, the Red Sox’ fortunes did not change in the first of a four-game set against the New York Yankees on Friday, as they dropped the series opener by a final score of 4-2, marking their fifth consecutive loss.

Making his 23rd start of the season and third against New York for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, who picked up the win while allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings in his last time out against these same Yankees to close out a strong July.

Working into the seventh inning this time around, the left-hander surrendered four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and a season-high six walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the night.

All four of those Yankees runs came right away in the bottom half of the first, immediately after the Sox had jumped out to an early two-run lead in their half of the first.

With one out and the bases filled following a leadoff single from D.J. LeMahieu and back-to-back walks drawn by Aaron Judge and Edwin encarnacion, Gleyber Torres unloaded on the very first pitch he saw from Rodriguez, a 95 MPH four-seam fastball on the inner half of the strike zone, and deposited it 384 feet into the right field seats.

The second grand slam of Torres’ young career put his team ahead 4-2, which as already indicated, would be all they needed.

Other than that one huge blip though, Rodriguez settled in nicely from the middle of the second inning up until the bottom of the seventh, retiring 15 of the next 21 hitters who came to the plate with the help of two double-plays before giving up a two-out double to the last Yankee he faced in the form of LeMahieu.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 113 (65 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer nearly 37% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 95.4 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately falling to 13-5 while inflating his ERA on the season up to 4.19, Rodriguez hadn’t lost a decision before Friday since June 9th, or 10 outings ago to be exact. He’ll look to get off to a better start in his next time out, which should come against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.

In relief of Rodriguez, Marcus Walden entered the seventh with one runner on second and one out to get in the frame, and he got that out fairly easily by fanning Aaron Judge on four pitches to retire the side.

Nathan Eovaldi got the call for the eighth inning, and he punched out one while putting together his first 1-2-3 appearance as a reliever since being activated off the injured list last month to preserve the two-run hole his side was in. It’s not like it made that much of a difference in the end, but a positive development nonetheless.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees left-hander James Paxton, someone they took deep four times and got seven runs off of last Friday.

Kicking off the scoring right away in the top half of the first, a two-out walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts brought J.D. Martinez to the plate with the chance to strike early.

On the second pitch he saw from Paxton, Martinez did just that, as he punished an 0-1, 87 MPH cutter that was down and inside and pulled it 355 feet over everything in left field for his 24th big fly of the season.

That gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead, and it looked as though they were on their way to teeing off against Paxton once again.

But, to his credit, Paxton held the Boston bats in check the rest of the way and never faced more than five hitters in a single frame from the beginning of the second through the middle of the sixth.

New York’s bullpen didn’t simplify things either, as Tommy Kahnle yielded a two-out single to Christian Vazquez in a scoreless seventh inning, Zack Brittion sat down Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and Bogaerts in order in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman notched his 28th save of the year by retiring Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Sam Travis in consecutive order in the ninth.

4-2 would go on to be Friday’s final score, extending the Sox’ current losing streak to five, which is the most regular season games they have lost consecutively since 2015, when they dropped eight straight from July 12th to July 23rd.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position on Friday. They left four men on base as a team.

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Having lost five games in a row, the Red Sox now stand 11 1/2 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East and four games back of the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

The Red Sox are also now 5-6 since July 22nd, when that crucial stretch of 14 straight games against Tampa Bay and New York started.

A day-night doubleheader is set to take place on Saturday, with left-hander Chris Sale opposing right-hander Domingo German in the first installment, and southpaw Brian Johnson making his return against TBD in the second.

Sale struggled mightily in his last time out against the Yankees this past Sunday, surrendering six earned runs on five hits in less than six innings in a contest the Red Sox eventually lost.

On the 2019 campaign as whole, the 30-year-old is 0-3 with an ERA of 7.71 and batting average against of 2.79 over three starts and 16 1/3 innings of work against New York.

German, meanwhile, also opposed Sale last Sunday and picked up the win, as he held the Sox to three runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings pitched.

First pitch for the first game on Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to snap this skid.

 

Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez Both Homer as Red Sox Rattle off Nine Runs in Third Straight Win over Yankees

After reaching double digits in runs for the second straight night in a 10-5 win over the New York Yankees on Friday, the Red Sox were unable to reach that mark on Saturday, but still came away with their consecutive win, topping their division rivals by a final score of 9-5.

Making his 22nd start of the season and second against New York for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, who came into Saturday unbeaten over his last four outings dating back to the beginning of July.

Keeping with that trend this time around, the left-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work.

The first of those three Yankees tallies came in the top half of the second, when with one out and the bases empty, Gio Urshela kicked off his first career four-hit game by taking Rodriguez deep to center for a solo home run to get his team on the board first.

Michael Chavis helped Rodriguez’s cause in the third, as he erased an Aaron Hicks leadoff single by turning a nifty, unassisted double play off a grounder from Aaron Judge.

In the fourth, Rodriguez nearly avoided any consequences of giving up a leadoff double to Luke Voit with two quick outs, but Urshela struck once more, this time singling softy to center to bring in the runner from second and make it a 2-1 contest.

An inning later, Hicks reached yet again by drawing a one-out walk and came around to score this time thanks to a two-out RBI double courtesy of Edwin Encarnacion.

That cut the Sox’ lead down to 4-3, but Rodriguez held on, stranded Encarnacion at second by fanning Voit to retire the side, and sat down two of the final four hitters he faced in the sixth before getting the hook.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 108 (64 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on both his four-seam and cut fastball a combined 57.4% of the time he was on the mound Saturday. He induced four swings and misses and topped out at 95.4 MPH with his heater while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Able to improve to 13-4 despite seeing his ERA jump up to 4.13 on the year, Rodriguez continues his winning ways, as the Red Sox are now 17-5 in games started by the Venezuela native. He’ll look to keep that going in his next time out against this same Yankees team in the Bronx on Friday.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes entered with two runners on and one out to get in the top half of the sixth, and he got that out by punching out Kyle Higashioka on six pitches.

Barnes also struck out the side while working around a two-out Encarnacion double in a scoreless seventh inning of work.

From there, Nathan Eovaldi struggled a bit in a 36-pitch eighth, surrendering two earned runs on three hits and two strikeouts before making way for Brandon Workman.

With a four-run lead to work with in the ninth, Workman needed just 14 pitches to fan a pair in a 1-2-3 frame to secure the 9-5 victory for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran left-hander C.C. Sabathia for the Yankees, someone they had got to for three runs over six innings in a win back on June 2nd.

Falling behind by one run early, Andrew Benintendi got the scoring started for Boston and got that run right back in the bottom half of the second by blasting his ninth home run of the season, this one a Fenway Park special in that it only traveled 310 feet around Pesky’s Pole in right field.

Fast forward to the fourth, after going down by one run again, and J.D. Martinez gave his side their first lead of the day, scoring Rafael Devers as well as himself on his 22nd homer of the year and second of the series.

Four batters later, with two outs and runners at the corners, Michael Chavis came through and ripped an RBI single to left to plate Christian Vazquez and make it a two-run game at 4-2.

A Devers double to lead off the fifth brought Xander Bogaerts to the plate for the third time against a reeling Sabathia, and he took advantage by nearly going yard and instead settling for a run-scoring two-bagger off the Green Monster. 5-3.

Benintendi’s second extra-base hit of the afternoon, a leadoff double in the sixth off of new Yankees reliever Chad Green, allowed him to advance to third on a Sam Travis single to right and score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of the just-inserted Brock Holt.

Travis managed to swipe second with Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate right before Bradley Jr. drove him in himself on an RBI triple off the left field wall.

Mookie Betts, despite going hitless on Saturday, also contributed with one RBI on a sac fly of his own to deep center that allowed Bradley Jr. to score from third. 8-3.

And in the seventh, back-to-back two-out hits from Benintendi and Travis, with the former’s double coming against Green and the latter’s RBI knock coming against Nestor Cortes Jr., put the Red Sox ahead 9-3.

The Yankees tacked on two more runs of their own in their half of the eighth, but 9-5 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Matt Barnes, through nine July appearances: seven innings pitched, three hits, zero runs, two walks, 14 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, and .125 batting average against.

Rafael Devers’ July thus far: .354/.410/.760 with 20 extra-base hits and 32 RBI.

Andrew Benintendi’s last seven games: .414/.433/.759 with two homers and five RBI.

The Red Sox are 5-1 in their last six games against the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. With the Rays getting walked off on by the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, they are currently in sole possession of second place in the American League East and the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game weekend set on Sunday Night Baseball.

Left-hander Chris Sale is scheduled to get the ball for Boston, while right-hander Domingo German will do the same for New York.

Sale has allowed just two total earned runs over his last two starts combined, both of which came this past Tuesday in a win over Tampa Bay.

Against the Yankees this year, the 30-year-old is 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA and .304 batting average against over 11 total innings pitched.

In his career against the Bronx Bombers though, Sale owns a lifetime ERA of 2.10 over 19 total appearances (16 starts) and 111 1/2 innings of work.

German, meanwhile, allowed three runs in less than four innings in his only other start against the Sox this season. He is coming off an outing in which he surrendered eight runs on nine hits over 3 2/3 frames against the Minnesota Twins on July 23rd.

At Fenway Park, German has yet to factor in a decision while posting a 2.08 ERA over two career appearances (one start) and just 4 1/3 innings pitched.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on ESPN. Red Sox looking to complete the four-game sweep.

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Hurls Seven Scoreless Innings, Improves to 4-0 in July as Red Sox Take Opener from Rays to Begin Pivotal Stretch of Season

After dropping two out of three against the lowly Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, the Red Sox headed south to St. Petersburg, Fla. with something to prove, as Monday marked the first of 14 straight games against the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees.

With the decision to be buyers or sellers hanging in this balance during this crucial stretch, the Sox took an important first step Monday, taking the opener from their divisional foes by a final score of 9-4.

Making his 21st start of the season for Boston and third against Tampa Bay was Eduardo Rodriguez, who came into the week having never come out victorious in any of his previous two career outings at Tropicana Field.

Bucking the trend this time around, the left-hander held the Rays scoreless over seven quality innings, yielding just a pair of hits and four walks to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

Oddly enough, Rodriguez began his outing by walking the first man he faced in Travis d’Arnaud. Leadoff walks typically do not lead to positive results, but the Venezuela native wound up facing the minimum in the frame thanks to a 4-3 double play from Tommy Pham and a simple groundout off the bat of Austin Meadows.

From there, Rodriguez faced no more than four hitters in a single inning and retired 18 of the next 23 Rays who came to the plate leading into the end of the seventh, the point in which his impressive evening came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 113 (70 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 39% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing five swings and misses and topping out at 94.4 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately improving to 12-4 while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.10, Rodriguez has enjoyed a great deal of success thus far in July.

In four starts this month, Rodriguez is 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA and .159 batting average against over his last 25 1/3 innings of work. He’ll look to keep it going in his next time out, which should come against the Yankees on Saturday.

In relief of Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi made his first appearance out of the Red Sox bullpen since being activated off the injured list this past Saturday.

Sox manager Alex Cora said pregame that Eovaldi would be used regardless of that score, and that turned out to be a positive development for Boston, as he entered the eighth inning with his team up by eight runs.

Only able to record the first two outs of the frame, Eovaldi allowed three Tampa Bay runs to cross the plate on four hits, two of which went for extra bases. He struck out two and averaged 97.8 MPH with his heater, but did give up a fair amount of fair contact.

Granted, this was just the second time the 29-year-old had seen in-game action since he hit the IL in late April, so this simply could have been an instance of shaking off the rust.

Still, Boston’s lead had been cut down to five runs, and Eovaldi got the hook in favor of Matt Barnes, who got that final out of the eighth by getting Willy Adames to ground out to short.

And finally, in the ninth, left-hander Josh Taylor surrendered one run on a leadoff walk and back-to-back one-out knocks from d’Arnaud and Tommy Pham before securing the 9-4 victory with a five-pitch punchout of Yandy Diaz and Nate Lowe.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Rays southpaw Jalen Beeks, a former Sox prospect that made the trade for Eovaldi last year possible.

Entering Monday with a solid 2.78 ERA in his first 20 appearances of 2019, Beeks did not find that same kind of success in his first start of the season and first as a Ray.

It took until the top half of the third inning, but a one-out single off the bat of Marco Hernandez is what got the Boston bats going.

That being the case because two at-bats later, after Mookie Betts had advanced Hernandez into scoring position by drawing an eight-pitch walk, Rafael Devers got his team on the board first with a two-run opposite field double off a 1-1, 94 MPH fastball. 2-0.

Another walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts put runners at first and second for J.D. Martinez, who took the first five pitches he saw before fouling the sixth one off and depositing the seventh one, a 3-2, 92 MPH heater, 415 feet to right-center for his 20th home run of the season. That one nearly got into the Rays tank. 5-0.

Two batters later, with two outs in the inning now, Andrew Benintendi took his old college teammate yard on his eight big fly of 2019. This one coming off a 3-1, 75 MPH curveball and being sent 394 feet into the right field seats.

Sam Travis followed that up with a dinger of his own on the very next pitch from Beeks, his second in four days, and just like that, the Red Sox were up seven runs early.

In the fourth, with Beeks out, right-hander Chaz Roe in, and Hernandez at second after reaching on a leadoff single against the Rays starter, Bogaerts provided his team with more two-out run support, plating Hernandez on a hustle RBI bloop double to right field to make it an eight-run contest.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with infielder Michael Brosseau pitching for Tampa Bay despite it only being a five-run game, and J.D. Martinez put this one to bed by collecting his fourth RBI of the night on a two-out, run-scoring two-bagger to drive in Bogaerts from second.

Martinez’s second hit gave the Red Sox the 9-3 edge, and after the Rays got one back in their half of the ninth, 9-4 would go on to be Monday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Andrew Benintendi finished a triple shy of the cycle on Monday.

Xander Bogaerts’ last 15 games: .377/.441/.705 with five home runs and 18 RBI.

With the win on Monday, the Red Sox stand just one game behind the Rays in the American League Standings. They’ll look to make that one a zero on Tuesday.

Left-hander Chris Sale is set to get the ball for Boston in the middle game of the three-game series, while right-hander Yonny Chirinos will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Fresh off his best outing in quite some time in his last time out against the Toronto Blue Jays, Sale has only faced the Rays one time this season back on April 28th, where he allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks over seven innings pitched.

In 10 prior outings (nine starts) at Tropicana Field, the 30-year-old is 4-3 with a 1.92 ERA and .213 batting average against over 65 2/3 total innings of work.

Chirinos, meanwhile, brings with him a 3.29 ERA through his first 20 appearances (14 starts) of 2019. His best start of the season in terms of Game Score came against the Red Sox, where he tossed eight shutout innings en route to a 5-1 win back on June 7th.

Including that gem, Chirinos owns a lifetime 2.88 ERA over five outings (three starts) and 25 innings pitching against Boston.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series victory.