BOSTON – (Staff Report) – Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez threw 5.2 innings of shutout baseball, striking out five Texas Rangers while frequently battling his opposing batters to deep or full counts to gain his 11th victory of the season, a well-earned 5-0 Red Sox win. Rodriguez threw 105 pitches and 68 strikes with three walks in his impressive outing.
Eduardo Rodriguez (Getty file photo)
Strong defense was the major factor behind the Red Sox victory, especially in the top half of the 5th inning when consecutive spectacular catches were made by SS Xander Bogaerts and CF Mookie Betts to extend the blank scoresheet against the Rangers for Rodriguez. Bogaerts made a leaping catch at short on a Delino DeShields line drive and Betts chased down a 375 foot Elvis Andrus fly ball to make the catch on the warning track, just a few steps from the Green Monster in deep left-center field at Fenway Park.
Rodriguez gave way to reliever Heath Hembree an inning later after he retired the first two batters but allowed a Rougned Odor single and issued a walk to Jurickson Profar, forcing Boston manager Alex Cora to make the pitching change mid-inning. Hembree struck-out 3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa to end the inning and preserve the shutout win for Rodriguez.
After Hembree retired the side by working only 1/3rd inning in the 6th, Boston relievers Brandon Workman (1.0 inning), Joe Kelly (1.0 inning) and Ryan Brasier secured the shutout victory with Brasier making his Red Sox debut in the non-save situation. Brasier last appeared in an MLB game in September, 2013 as a member of the LA Angels.
J.D. Martinez provided three insurance runs in the 8th inning when he clobbered a 2-2 pitch off Jesse Chavez for a 3-run homer, scoring Betts and Andrew Benintendi. It was Martinez’ 28th HR of the season extending his MLB lead in the HR category.
The Red Sox are now 63-29 on the season, two games in the loss column ahead of the New York Yankees in the American League East.
Boston has won 12 of their last 14 games, and 14 of their last 17, including their last five games at Fenway Park. Boston has won 10 of their last 12 games against the Texas Rangers, including each of their last four.
The winning trend continued from the outset tonight when Boston designated hitter Steve Pearce hit his fifth HR of the season and his first as a member of the Red Sox when he cracked a 3-2 pitch off Rangers starter Mike Minor in the bottom of the 1st inning, scoring Martinez and proving to be the game-winning hit. Pearce was acquired from Toronto in a June 28th deal that sent minor league INF Santiago Espinal to the Blue Jays. From May 3 to June 21, Pearce battled a left oblique strain, but returned to play against mostly left-handed pitching when he bats .321 (18-for-56 – prior to tonight’s game).
Minor went 5.1 innings and gave up the two runs on six hits. He struck-out four Red Sox while throwing 93 pitches with 61 strikes.
GAME NOTES – The Boston Red Sox five MLB All-Star players were welcomed back to Fenway Park after a 7-2 road trip that saw the Sox drop 2-of-3 in New York but sweep both Washington (3-0) and Kansas City (3-0). The series sweep in KC was the first time Boston was able to sweep the Royals at Kauffman Stadium since 2002. … Boston’s all-star five include Mookie Betts (OF) and J.D. Martinez (DH) who were voted as starters by the MLB fans, while 1B Mitch Moreland, SP Chris Sale and RP Craig Kimbrel were voted in by their peers. … Martinez’ 28 HR are the 3rd-most by a Red Sox hitter prior to the All-Star break, trailing only David Ortiz in 2006 (31) and Carl Yastrzemski in 1969 (29) … The last Red Sox hitter to reach 28 HR in the team’s first 92 games was David Ortiz (32) in his club record-setting 54-HR season in 2006. … Tonight, Steve Pearce became the first Red Sox hitter with a HR in his first At Bat here at Fenway as a member of the club since Daniel Nava hit a 1st-pitch grand slam in his Fenway debut on June 12, 2010.