Eduardo Rodriguez dazzles as Red Sox down Baltimore in series opener

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Fenway Park on September 12, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Fenway Park on September 12, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox were in dire need of a starting pitcher to shine in 2019. Eduardo Rodriguez did just that last night against Baltimore.

To say the Red Sox starting pitching has been abysmal this season would be an understatement. Two weeks into the season and not a single Boston starter had recorded a victory until last night. Eduardo Rodriguez took the mound against Baltimore and he did everything he could to keep it.

All throughout spring training Red Sox Nation was told of the improvements and work that E-Rod was putting into bettering himself. Whether it be stricter workouts and diet or working on mechanics with guys such as Pedro Martinez and Chris Sale. Sadly, it hasn’t shown yet in 2019 but that all changed last night. Eduardo spoke to the media after the game and shed some light into his performance as well as his preparation for the start.

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"This past week, in between starts, I was working with Pedro over there in the bullpen,” Rodriguez said. “I changed my mechanics to go back to when I got to the big leagues. We worked on it in the bullpen, on flat ground, everything. As soon as I got in the game, I see the first pitch was 94, 95. I said, ‘I’ve got my fastball.’ I was in command. I started throwing it a lot more. I was feeling really good.”"

In the series opener against Baltimore on Friday night, Rodriguez had everything going and threw everything including the kitchen sink to the Orioles. In what seemed like a master plan from pitching coach Dana LeVangie, E-Rod left the Baltimore batters confused and guessing what was coming next.

His first run through the lineup he kept the Baltimore batters at bay by firing fastballs all over the strike zone sitting hitters down left and right. When it came time for the batting order to cycle around once again he changed things up, literally. He focused on placement and offspeed junk to confuse the hitters who had seen only fastballs during their first at-bats.

It was a performance that the Fenway Faithful had been hoping to finally see from the lefty as we all know his potential. But a poor beginning to the season and some subpar showings in spring training had Red Sox Nation wondering if E-Rod would miss his potential again. Hell, I even wrote about moving on from him and he proved me wrong and shut me up last night.

Rodriguez tossed a fantastic 6.2 innings last night and even had a perfect game going until he gave up a single in the fifth inning to Hanser Alberto. E-Rod would quickly work out of that inning and continue to march on unphased.

He would work into the seventh inning where he was still steamrolling Orioles until a misplayed ball from  Mookie Betts put Trey Mancini on second. Rodriguez would then leave a pitch right where Dwight Smith Jr. wanted it and he smashed it for a 2-run homer to bring the Orioles within a run of the Red Sox. That would spell the end of the evening for Eduardo even though he still seemed firmly in command.

Eduardo’s final stat line on the night would bring him 6.2 IP/3 H/ 2 ER/ 0 BB/ 8 K. It would also bring the Red Sox starting rotation their first victory of 2019. As I was watching the game and listening to the commentary it seemed like we were all amazed at what Rodriguez was doing on the mound. Not that he isn’t capable as we all know his potential is high, but that it’s been what feels like ages since our pitching looked so in command.

"“I mean after the [comeback] win yesterday, I think we all turned the page,” Rodriguez said. “We all are going now. You’re going to see a lot of starters doing this now, from here out. I know that. I know they’re working on their pitches and everything. You will see a lot more of this.”"

Between the walk-off against Toronto on Thursday night and the dominant pitching of Rodriguez last night, for the first time this season it feels like the World Champion Red Sox are here. The bats woke up the last two nights as well giving the Sox 13 runs over the last two games. If the run support can continue much as it did in 2018, I believe that the pitching will continue to come around.

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The Red Sox have gotten themselves into a hole to start their title defense in 2019 but are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. If the starting rotation can continue to churn out efforts like the one from Eduardo Rodriguez last night, things will turn around quickly. With another road trip quickly coming down the pike the Red Sox will need to gain as much momentum as possible. With the bats doing the work Thursday and the arms doing the work Friday, they’re in a great place to storm the American League gates once again.