Where: Fenway Park, Boston
BOSTON — John Farrell doesn’t see any great mystery behind the sudden success of young left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.
“It’s just a matter of his abilities coming together,” the Boston manager said after Rodriguez turned in his seventh straight quality start in the Red Sox’s fifth straight win, a 3-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night.
“This has always been an extremely talented young guy,” Farrell said. “We’ve talked about his maturity, we’ve talked about his progression. It’s been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively. He’s in a very good place. Good to see him put it together.”
Rodriguez (4-1) allowed five hits and walked three but battled through six innings and remained unbeaten since his first start of the year. He struck out four and has the third-most strikeouts (257) of any Boston pitcher in the modern era within his first 50 starts.
“I don’t think it’s any one thing you can point to,” Farrell said. “He’s generated a lot of talk because of the run he’s on and doing a very good job. It’s a combination of a lot of things that’s culminated in increased confidence, pitching relaxed with very, very good stuff.”
“I think just the overall consistency is special. I’m not impressed that he can do it, because we know he can do it,” said teammate Jackie Bradley Jr., whose throw from left-center field cut down Danny Valencia trying for a double that would have given the Mariners second and third and nobody out in the second inning. “He’s very talented and it’s very fun playing behind him.”
Three relievers worked an inning apiece, with Craig Kimbrel adding to his early season magic with a perfect ninth for his 13th save of the season and his 27th straight at Fenway Park.
First baseman Mitch Moreland took a hit away from Valencia that would have been the first hit by a right-handed batter off Kimbrel this season. Kimbrel finished the game by getting Taylor Motter to bounce out — making right-handed hitters 0-for-39 against him this season, and he has retired 55 of the last 59 hitters he has faced, including 35 of the last 37.
“Every time he comes in the ninth inning and we’re winning a game and he comes in we know we’re gonna win,” Rodriguez said. “That’s all I’m thinking all the time I see him in the game. He’s something special in there.”
The win moved the Red Sox past the losing Baltimore Orioles and into second place in the American League East, two games behind the losing New York Yankees — the closest Boston has been since April 25 (also two games out).
The last-place Mariners (21-28) lost for the sixth time in seven games and have scored five runs in those six losses. Their best chance to score was in the second inning, but two baserunning blunders kept them off the board.
“Again, offensively, we struggled to put innings together,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “That’s kind of been the story here for the last week or so — we just haven’t gotten the line moving at all, for whatever reason.
“It seems like we’re going to start something going, we don’t get the big hit. Got one yesterday (a three-run homer by Nelson Cruz in Washington), didn’t get one tonight.” Yovani Gallardo, who lasted 5 1/3 innings, fell to 2-5 with the loss. He walked six and wild-pitched a run home.
“Yeah, I definitely had to battle,” he said. “The whole night obviously wasn’t consistent. But I made pitches whenever I had to.”
The Red Sox (26-21) scored a second-inning run on a Bradley double and two groundouts and added two in the sixth, one scoring on the Gallardo wild pitch and the other on a passed ball by Mike Zunino.
In four games during their current homestand — all wins — the Red Sox have been gifted six runs — on four wild pitches, a passed ball and a balk.
Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had two hits apiece for Boston.
Jean Segura had three of Seattle’s six hits. He has five hits in the last two games and is batting .346 for the season.
Rain, heavy at one point, fell from the fifth inning on, but the game was not stopped on th second straight wet night at Fenway.
NOTES: Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia, removed from Thursday night’s wet conditions because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, was rested after another day of rain. … The Mariners lost RHP Chris Heston and INF Mike Freeman to waiver claims, both to the Los Angeles Dodgers. … Boston INF/OF Brock Holt, battling vertigo, has been pulled from any game action for at least time being. He will continue to work out and travel with the team. … RHP Rob Whalen makes his first start with the Mariners on Saturday, facing LH Brian Johnson, who will be recalled for his second start of the season for the Red Sox. … The Red Sox optioned RHP Ben Taylor to Pawtucket after the game to make room for Johnson. … Pregame ceremonies honored the May 29 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy, Boston’s favorite sun.