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Friday, May 29, 2015

Eduardo Rodriguez dazzles in first Red Sox start -- now Ben needs to give him another

For starters, Rodriquez lives up to the hype.

For most of two months, the Red Sox have sought the spark needed to get their season on track. Now that they may have found it, they would be smart to keep it around.

Last night, in his major league debut, Eduardo Rodriguez shut down one of MLB's hottest-hitting teams in a 5-1 win over the Texas Rangers.  Boston's much-hyped lefthander allowed just 3 hits and 0 runs in 7 2/3 innings, with 7 strikeouts and 2 walks, while performing with poise well beyond his 22 years. 

In fact, Rodriguez pitched with the type of confidence that another Red Sox lefty -- Jon Lester -- displayed so often during his long career in Boston. Beginning with a strikeout of .368 hitter Prince Fielder to end the first inning, Rodriguez was in control throughout the contest with excellent command of his 93-94 mph fastball, slider, and change-up. 
Eduardo has a grip on things.

He did a terrific job moving in and out off the plate, and in mid-game allowed just one walk in a 15-batter stretch that included three strikeouts in the fifth inning. His 106 pitches tied his career high as a professional.

When Rodriguez got the call to report to Arlington from Triple A Pawtucket, he did so with the understanding that he would be returning to the minors after one spot start -- serving as a hole-plugger during a 20-day stretch in which the Red Sox have no days off. Now, however, GM Ben Cherington may want to reconsider that strategy.

If ever a guy deserved a chance to earn a spot in the rotation, it's Rodriguez.

Just how monumental was this performance? You have to go back to 1967 and the near no-hitter by "Impossible Dream" footnote Billy Rohr to find a younger Red Sox pitcher who went further in his MLB debut.
Billy Rohr went 8 2/3 no-hit innings in his debut.

Throw in Hanley Ramirez's first home run since April 29 and three-hit nights from leadoff man extraordinaire Dustin Pedroia and No. 2 man Mookie Betts, and you have one of the most satisfying wins of the year.

Whether it also turns out to be one of the most meaningful remains to be seen. 

Knuckleballer Steven Wright -- coming off an excellent start of his own last weekend -- will do his best to keep the mojo going Friday night.

When asked before Rodriguez's start whether an especially strong outing would force the club to keep him around, Boston manager John Farrell said "we'll really, really reconsider." After the game, Farrell said the rookie would definitely be making another start -- if it was up to Farrell.

The final decision, however, will be made by Cherington. Let's hope he makes the right one.

Fielder and the Rangers had no answers.

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