E-Rod credits ... pitching guru Pedroia?

April 25th, 2019

BOSTON -- Not long after his dominant performance in an 11-4 win against the Tigers on Wednesday night was complete, Red Sox lefty had someone to thank.

It turns out that in his spare time, Red Sox second baseman -- who is currently on the injured list with recurring left knee issues -- gives pitching tips.

A few days ago in the dugout at Tropicana Field, Pedroia showed Rodriguez a new grip for his new pitch.

Rodriguez had been tinkering since Spring Training with a slider. And finally, after some help from Pedroia, it clicked.

"It's funny," said Rodriguez. "Because four days ago, I was talking with Pedey in the dugout and he told me, 'Hey, do you want to throw a really good breaking ball?' I was like, 'Yeah, bro, I've been battling to throw a breaking ball since I got here in the big leagues, since I was in the Minor Leagues.'

"He told me throw the ball like this and hold it like that, and two days ago I started throwing it with my knee over there, and it's funny, because the first time I threw that kind of breaking ball was today and it was working."

Wait, so how does Pedroia know so much about pitching?

"I don't know," Rodriguez said. "He just told me that he was throwing that when he was in school. He just told me how to throw it and I've got to say thank you to him."

Before unleashing it against the Tigers, Rodriguez first tested out Pedroia's grip on the side.

"The grip, he showed me the grip, and I started doing it two days ago, and I told him, 'Bro, I'm going to throw that today, and you tell me how it is', and I think it worked pretty good," Rodriguez said.

The Tigers weren't in any position to disagree.

Of Rodriguez's 90 pitches against the Tigers, 16 were sliders. Of the 16, he generated one swing and miss, two called strikes, three foul balls and two outs.

And having the slider as a weapon made his other pitches more dangerous. Rodriguez induced 18 swings and misses, which means the Tigers whiffed at one of every five pitches he threw.

The mix was a thing of beauty for Rodriguez, as he also threw 52 fastballs, nine cutters and 13 changeups.

Rodriguez allowed just two hits and a run while walking three and striking out seven in six innings. The Tigers could barely touch him.

"That kid's got a great arm," credited Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. "He's good. His ball jumps out of his hand. He pitches down in the zone. He's got a cutter that goes backdoor. He's got good stuff. We've watched enough video of him to know it was going to be a tough day for us. He's been throwing good. He made it really tough on us. Give credit to where credit's due."

And for this one start, at least some of the credit went to an unlikely source of pitching knowledge -- Pedroia.

How did a pitcher know he could trust a position player? After all, it's not like Rodriguez is going to give Pedroia hitting tips when he returns from the injured list.

"Everything he's done," Rodriguez said. "MVP, Rookie of the Year, all the winning he's done. All the time he's got in the big leagues, I've got to believe him. And I did it and it worked."