BOSTON -- Now in his fourth season with the Red Sox, Eduardo Rodriguez is just three months older than another lefty (Jalen Beeks) who will make his Major League debut Thursday at Fenway Park.With some invaluable experience gained from the ups and downs of recent seasons, Rodriguez is at last
BOSTON -- Now in his fourth season with the Red Sox, Eduardo Rodriguez is just three months older than another lefty (Jalen Beeks) who will make his Major League debut Thursday at Fenway Park.
With some invaluable experience gained from the ups and downs of recent seasons, Rodriguez is at last coming of age. His latest strong performance came Wednesday night, as he allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings while leading Boston to a 7-1 victory over the Tigers.
Rodriguez walked one and struck out five and is 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA in his last six starts.
"The pitch count got up early in the start but he was able to bounce back and gave us 5 2/3," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He was fresh. You could see the fastball, it was jumping out of his hand tonight, 94, 95. Good changeup, and there were certain hitters, we felt, he should have put them away, 0-2, 1-2, he didn't, but overall, another good start. He gave us a chance to win the game. The stuff is there. Now I get why everybody was excited about this guy."
If there's one thing Rodriguez is looking to improve on, it is pitch efficiency.
"Like I said, I've been feeling good. I've been trying to do the best I can. My mentality right now is just thinking about to get more deep into games," Rodriguez said. "Because as a starter you want to get more deep into a game than just 5 2/3 all the time."
While Rodriguez got the job done on the mound, red-hot Andrew Benintendi again got it done with the bat.
Serving again as the leadoff man while Mookie Betts recovers from his left abdominal strain, Benintendi belted his 10th home run of the season, a solo shot into the Red Sox bullpen in right-center. Earlier in the game, he took a perfect inside-out swing to smash an RBI double to the gap in left-center.
"Mookie is a big part of our team and a big guy to lose for a little bit, but we have a deep lineup," said Benintendi. "It doesn't really matter whose number is called. We're confident in everybody in our clubhouse."
Nine of Benintendi's 10 homers have come since May 1, including three in the last four games.
"His swing is a great swing," said Cora. "The barrel stays through the zone for a long time and he's disciplined enough. He's done an outstanding job for us and we've seen him trying to go the other way against lefties, and overall, he's had a great start. Disciplined, swinging at strikes, doing damage -- he's a good hitter."
There were several other contributors to the victory, including Xander Bogaerts (3-for-4, two RBIs) and Christian Vazquez (3-for-4, two runs, homer, two RBIs).
The Red Sox are an MLB-best 43-19, having won four in a row and 15 of their last 20.
"J.D. [Martinez] mentioned it today: Whoever is in the lineup is putting in good at-bats," said Cora. "We're putting continuous at-bats and keeping the pressure on the opposition."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Vazquez getting in groove: Vazquez, who spent most of the first two months of the season in an offensive funk, has been swinging the bat batter of late. It was Vazquez who got the Red Sox on the board in this one with an RBI double off the Green Monster that missed being a two-run homer by a foot or two. Vazquez got his home run later in the game, ripping a solo shot over the Monster.
"He worked hard in Houston," said Cora. "He showed up early, him and [hitting coach] Timmy [Hyers] and now with the toe, it seems like he's on time every time. He's able to see the ball."
After taking the first two games of this three-game set against Detroit, the Sox are 5-0-1 in their last six series. The Sox are the third team since the 116-win Mariners of 2001 to start the season 43-19. The other two teams are the most recent World Series champs -- the '16 Cubs and '17 Astros.
The Red Sox call on prospect Jalen Beeks to make his MLB debut and start Thursday's game against the Tigers in the finale of this three-game series. Ranked Boston's No. 15 prospect by MLB Pipeline, the lefty is 3-3 with a 2.56 ERA for Triple-A Pawtucket this season, holding opponents to a .197 average. The Tigers counter with lefty Matthew Boyd (3-4, 3.23 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.