The Boston Red Sox roller coaster season continues, this time with an unexpected and thrilling high. On Thursday night, starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez made his Major League debut against the Texas Rangers. To say he made an impression on his teammates and coaches would be an understatement.
Rodriguez, 22, threw 7.2 shutout innings in front of the 34,085 fans in attendance at Globe Life Park in Arlington. His dominating performance could not come at a better time for the struggling Red Sox. Boston was coming off a three game sweep at the hands of a surging Minnesota Twins team and desperately needed to get back on track.
The Venezuelan rookie did just that. Coming out of the gate, Rodriguez got two groundouts and struck out Prince Fielder to end the inning. By the end of the night he had 7 strikeouts allowing just three hits and two walks. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time in franchise history any Red Sox pitcher has had such an excellent outing in his MLB debut. With the exception of a second inning double off the bat of Josh Hamilton (who was making his own debut of sorts,) Rodriguez retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced.
It was obvious Rodriguez felt comfortable with Blake Swihart behind the plate. Swihart had caught Rodriguez extensively throughout their time in the minor leagues. His battery-mate not only helped by calling the game, but with his bat as well. Swihart ripped a one-hopper into right field in the top of the 8th to score two runs.
Rodriguez began the game with a steady diet of fastballs to opposing hitters and didn’t begin to incorporate his off-speed pitches until the second time around the order. His fastball was clocked around 94-95 mph and was clocked at high as 96-mph.
It will be interesting to see what happens now with Rodriguez. The original plan was for the rookie to make a spot start, but it would be unfathomable if manager John Farrell decides to send him back down to the minors.
After the game, the Red Sox skipper said, “He’s done nothing to hurt that cause, I can tell you that. A lot was talked about the reasons why we brought him up here. But he gave us exactly what you’d hope to see, and more. So there’s no decision at this point whether or not he makes his next start with us. I certainly would hope he would.”
Thursday night’s performance was the best start any Red Sox starter has had all year. It also marked the longest scoreless stretch of anyone in the rotation. With the recent “injury” to Justin Masterson and “demotion” of Joe Kelly to the bullpen there is no reason why Farrell and company shouldn’t roll out the youngster for another start.
Despite being four games under .500 the Red Sox are miraculously just 3 games back of the first place Yankees. Rodriguez’s performance just might be the shot in the arm this team needs to get their ducks in a row and go after the wide open AL East.