Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was thrust into a big spot Monday as Boston looked to keep its momentum going in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
But the match proved to be exactly what the left-hander — and the Red Sox — needed.
Rodriguez went five innings while allowing two runs on three hits in a redemption story of sorts as he helped Boston advance to the American League Championship Series with a walk-off win. It came after Rodriguez pitched less than two innings in a Game 1 loss against the Rays.
“After the last start, today was really special for me,” Rodriguez said after Boston’s 6-5 win, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “It was just amazing to get out there and have the opportunity to do what I did today.
“After everything I went through last year … and then everything that I went through this year — all the bad starts, good starts, up and down, everything — to have the opportunity to be here today, it’s just something that was really special.”
Rodriguez was exceptional during the early innings Monday as he retired each of the first nine batters he faced, including winning a 17-pitch at-bat against Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows in the top of the third inning. He allowed one hit through four innings while the Rays did not have a runner in scoring position until the fifth.
“Coming into the game I was feeling really good,” Rodriguez said, noting the biggest difference between the two starts was the fact he had command of his fastball. “If you have your fastball location the rest of the pitches going to work pretty good, you know? That’s what, as a starting pitcher, that’s the first thing you have to have for having a good game. If you can locate your fastball, the rest is money.”
The performance from Rodriguez, who ultimately was granted a no decision, earned a positive review from a number of teammates and manager Alex Cora.
“He was amazing,” Cora said, as seen on NESN. “Good fastball, good changeup, good cutter. That lineup lately against lefties has been really, really good.
“Eddie, he was great. I’m very happy for him,” Cora added. “Everybody knows what happened last year and the up and downs of this season and for him to go out there and give us a chance, it means a lot.”
The Red Sox advanced past the Rays by winning the best-of-five series 3-1. Boston now will turn its sights to the AL Championship Series as it will face either the Chicago White Sox or Houston Astros with Game 1 set for Friday.
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