Don’t look now but the Red Sox are looking good. For the second consecutive day, the Red Sox have emerged victorious after a strong performance in all facets of the game. Tonight, in the series opener in Kansas City, the Red Sox rode an impressive performance by rookie sensation Eduardo Rodriguez alongside some timely hitting to a satisfying 7-3 win over the first-place Royals.
Neither team was able to accomplish much offensively in the first inning, but the Red Sox put together a major rally in the second. Hanley Ramirez started the inning with a hard lineout to left fielder Alex Gordon but, following that hard-luck out, all of the luck was in Boston’s favor. A Xander Bogaerts single and Pablo Sandoval double put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out. The Red Sox would cash in on those baserunners when Mike Napoli drove a hard grounder up the middle for a two-run single to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. After a walk to Alejandro De Aza, the next big hit came off the bat of promising catcher Blake Swihart, who drove a two-run double into right field. Swihart came around to score himself after a single through the right side by Mookie Betts, extending Boston’s lead to 5-0 after just an inning.
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Once the Red Sox put that lead on the board, this game morphed into the Eduardo Rodriguez show. The 22-year old southpaw turned in an excellent outing against the free-swinging Royals, lasting 6.1 innings while allowing just a run on back-to-back doubles in the fifth inning and picking up the third win of his MLB career.
The Red Sox provided a couple more runs after their second-inning outburst, both coming via hits by Hanley Ramirez. In the fifth inning, Ramirez crushed a line drive to left-center for a solo home run, his 14th of the season. Ramirez would once again provide the damage in the seventh inning, driving in Brock Holt with a seventh inning single.
After Rodriguez left the game in the seventh inning, the Royals were able to pick up a couple of extra runs in garbage time. Eric Hosmer crushed a no-doubt home run to dead center field in the eighth inning off Robbie Ross Jr. and back-to-back doubles by Christian Colon and Mike Moustakas gave Kansas City another run in the ninth. However, those runs would not prove to be enough to get the Royals back in the game as the Red Sox pulled away with a 7-3 win.
- Eduardo Rodriguez bounced back in a big way after a disappointing performance against the Blue Jays on Sunday. While E-Rod only had two pitches working on Sunday, he was able to use his slider much more effectively tonight, allowing both his fastball and change to play up. This led to his fourth excellent start in five attempts, as he allowed just a run on 6 hits and a walk in 6.1 innings, punching out 5 Royals hitters.
- Mookie Betts had one of the best performances of his young MLB career, going 4-5 with an RBI single and recording his first four-hit game in the majors.
- Hanley Ramirez hit the ball hard in each of his plate appearances tonight, including a home run and an RBI single, and he appears to be returning to form after hurting his shoulder in early May.
- Blake Swihart recorded a nice game tonight, going 2-4 with a two-run double and a single, both of which were hard-hit line drives.
Rodriguez was not at his most dominant tonight, but he put together an excellent start against a good offensive team. The promising lefty also lowered his ERA to 3.13 in the process and he already appears to be one of the better young arms in all of baseball.
Ogando only faced a pair of hitters, but he was able to escape a jam in the seventh inning as he cleaned up a pair of baserunners that Rodriguez had allowed to reach base.
Betts may not have done it in the sexiest way possible, recording nothing but singles, but there’s something to be said for a four-hit game. Also to be noted, Betts’ RBI single in the second inning was a hard-hit liner to the right side, when opposite-field hitting has been a weakness in his game this season. He continues a strong June at the plate and, before long, Betts could very well be one of the brightest young stars in baseball.