RECAP: Eduardo Rodriguez’s best start of the season is key for #RedSox in 5-0 win.

Over the past few weeks, any starter not named Chris Sale or Drew Pomeranz has pretty much been auditioning for a third or fourth spot in a postseason rotation. Today, Eduardo Rodriguez got his chance to shine, and shine he did. The lefty pitched into the eighth inning, scattering three hits, two walks, and six strikeouts over that span. That first hit didn’t come until the fourth, and it didn’t even matter thanks to Andrew Benintendi’s arm.

At no point did it appear that ERod was struggling. However, I wasn’t too excited about him coming back out for the eighth inning with 101 pitches. If he’s gonna be the third guy in the ALDS rotation, then you probably don’t want him throwing 112 pitches in a game the Red Sox had a grip on. He exited with two outs in the inning, and Carson Smith came on to finish it with a strikeout. To wrap things up, Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out the side along with two walks. Nothing to complain about in the pitching department.

Similar to last night, the Red Sox scored five runs, four of those came against another inexperienced starting pitcher. Robert Stephenson, 24, made his tenth start for the Reds, and like Sal Ramano, he got off to a pretty good start. The Red Sox scored once in the first on a Brock Holt sac fly, but couldn’t score again until the sixth, where they scored three times. That rally was also started by Holt, who reached on an E1 to start the inning. Andrew Benintendi walked, and that set up a great situation for Mitch Moreland. 0 for his last 19, Mitchy Four Bags blasted his 20th long ball of the season over the center field wall, giving his team a 4-0 lead.

That was a thing of beauty, but the scoring didn’t stop there. With two outs and two on in the seventh, Andrew Benintendi put the exclamation point on a great day with an RBI single that scored Xander Bogaerts from second. That RBI gives Benintendi a grand total of 88 on the year. I don’t know how it’s possible, but Ted Williams holds the Red Sox rookie for RBIs with 145. Obviously, he’s not going to get there, but ending your first full year in the bigs with 90+ RBIs is still pretty nice.

Doug Fister gets the ball tomorrow afternoon, and he’ll have to be much better than he was against the Orioles if he wants to start in the ALDS.

90 down, 5 to go. 

Also, second straight year with 90+ wins calls for this:

RECAP: Rafael Devers’ go-ahead, three-run blast in fourth gives #RedSox 5-4 win over the Reds.

For the first time in more than three years, the Red Sox made a visit to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds have been a last place team for the better part of this season but they are not a team anyone should overlook. If you compare their everyday lineup to that of the Red Sox, you’d see just how many more home runs the Reds have hit this year. Not surprisingly, the only runs the Reds scored last night came on a home run, a grand slam to be more specific. That was served up by last night’s starter, Rick Porcello. The righty was not too sharp in this one, making his shortest outing of the month so far by only making it through four full innings. Porcello was pretty much in trouble right from the start, loading the bases with no outs in the first inning. The very next batter he faced, Scooter Gennett, capitalized on this by mashing his FOURTH grand slam of the year. Note that the Red Sox have hit ZERO grand slams all year.

Despite Porcello’s struggles, the pitching staff actually put together a pretty solid performance from the fifth inning on. Making his first appearance since last Sunday, David Price made his second appearance out of the bullpen, and he looked solid in the 2.2 innings he pitched. Over that span, the lefty scattered three hits and a walk while striking out four. Since pitchers bat in NL ballparks, Price also got his third career hit on a single last night, and he was excited about it.

Addison Reed came on with two outs in the seventh, ended the inning, and went on to pitch a scoreless eighth as well. This all paved way for Craig Kimbrel to come on, do his thing, and pick up his 34th save of 2017. I’m gonna have a blog out soon previewing what I think the ALDS roster should look like, and I think last night’s start pretty much took Rick Porcello off the board, David Price on the other hand, well, his stock is rising.

On the other side of things, I heard a lot about how Reds starter, Sal Romano, was looking forward to facing the Red Sox since he grew up a Yankees fan. Unfortunately, his performance was one that he’d probably like to forget. The Red Sox drew first blood, though that did not last long and they should have scored more. Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, and hometown hero Andrew Benintendi all reached base to lead off the first. Only one run managed to cross the plate, and that came on a Mitch Moreland sacrifice fly. The bats went silent for the next two innings, then scored all their other runs in the fourth. Mookie Betts started the inning with a double, and that was followed by a Moreland walk. Next up was Christian Vazquez, and on a 1-2 slider, he ripped a double to right, scoring Betts. Rafael Devers then decided he wanted to join in and make up for his base running blunder by hitting an absolute moonshot to right field, giving the Red Sox a 5-4 lead, which is all they needed.

With the Yankees loss last night, the Red Sox move to four games up in the division, and the magic number to clinch is down to six. Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start tomorrow, and he should be at the top of his game vying for a spot in the playoff rotation.

89 down, 5 to go.