BOSTON -- Looking ready to do his share for a stacked starting rotation, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched the red-hot Red Sox to a 7-3 victory over the Orioles on Friday night at Fenway Park.The 25-year-old lefty, who has always been touted for his potential, mixed his arsenal nicely in his second
BOSTON -- Looking ready to do his share for a stacked starting rotation, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched the red-hot Red Sox to a 7-3 victory over the Orioles on Friday night at Fenway Park.
The 25-year-old lefty, who has always been touted for his potential, mixed his arsenal nicely in his second start since coming off the disabled list, allowing one run while striking out eight over six innings.
Rodriguez gave up a run in the first and then stifled the Birds the rest of the way, finishing his outing by freezing Chris Davis on a cutter to end the sixth inning.
"Everything was working for me today," Rodriguez said. "The cutter, the slider, the changeup. Everything was pretty good."
If you're looking for the biggest reason the Sox are off to an 11-2 start for the first time since 1918, just focus on the starting rotation, which is now 8-1 with a 1.97 ERA.
"Yeah, they're just throwing up zeros and we just have to go score a couple of runs," right fielder Mookie Betts said. "And with our offense, we shouldn't have too many troubles scoring a couple of runs."
Of late, the starting pitchers have been able to work from ahead. That was again the case in this one, as Eduardo Nunez belted a three-run homer deep into the Green Monster seats in the bottom of the first to pin the Orioles and starter Chris Tillman into a 4-1 hole.
Nunez's second homer of the season was a lot less strenuous than his first -- an inside-the-parker at Tropicana Field on Opening Day.
"I hit a homer, and didn't have to run 100 percent to home plate, that feels better," Nunez said.
The defeat extended Tillman's winless streak to 21 starts.
By contrast, Rodriguez became the sixth different starter to win a game for the Sox this season, and Thomas Pomeranz -- who won 17 games last year -- could return by next week.
"He got in a groove," Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph said of Rodriguez. "He's done it to us before. Really using that back-door cutter this time, that was a nice pitch. It looks like he's been learning that from David [Price]."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Devers busts out: Third baseman Rafael Devers had been in an 0-for-12 drought during the past three games when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the first with two outs. He smoked a 1-1 fastball down the line in left for a two-out double that set up the three-run shot by Nunez. Devers went 3-for-5 on the night.
"Devers going the other way," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We talked about him struggling before the game. All of a sudden, he stays back, drives a ball the other way."
The Red Sox are making the big inning habitual. They've had a single inning of four-plus runs in each of the past six games. They've also scored six-plus runs in each of the past six games. And in those six games, the Sox have outscored their opponents, 52-27.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In one of the quirkier plays you'll ever see, Adam Jones led off the top of the fourth with a bloop down the line and into short right field that first baseman Mitch Moreland lost track of. The ball bounced in fair territory and then caromed all the way to the tarp. Rather than giving up on the play and assuming it was a dead ball, Betts pulled the ball out from the back part of the tarp and fired to second, where he nailed Jones on a close play.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter challenged the play because he felt the ball was lodged in the tarp, which would have made it a dead ball. The replay official couldn't definitively determine that the ball was lodged behind or under canvas on the tarp. The call stood, and the Red Sox had their out.
"If it went in between, obviously I wouldn't be able to get to it," Betts said. "Because it was just sitting up [on the tarp], I guess my instinct was just to grab it and make a play and ask questions later."
After turning in a strong start for the Red Sox on April 1 (5 2/3 innings, one run) in a win over the Rays, Hector Velazquez is back in the rotation to face the Orioles on Saturday. The righty is making his second career start at Fenway. Alex Cobb will be on the hill for the Orioles, making his Baltimore debut. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.