Despite effort by Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox fall
BALTIMORE — Manager John Farrell was understandably hopeful on Sunday after the Red Sox charged back to beat the Oakland Athletics, scoring seven runs in the eighth inning at Fenway Park.
“This was a momentum-builder for us. There’s no doubt,” Farrell said after the game.
The era of good feeling lasted two days. Rookie lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez had another terrific performance on Tuesday night, but it was wasted in a 1-0 loss against the Baltimore Orioles.
Facing the team that traded him last July, Rodriguez was scintillating over six shutout innings. The 22-year-old was poised and determined, doing everything he could.
“His competitive spirit really came through with some big pitches,” Farrell said.
His teammates were not capable of the same. The Sox had only five hits, two over the final six innings. They left nine runners on base and were hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.
At 27-32, the Sox are alone in last place in the American League East and 6½ games out.
The Sox have been shut out five times and have scored one or fewer runs15 times.
The Red Sox also lost Hanley Ramirez to injury in the third inning. He fouled a pitch off his left knee and went down on the grass next to the plate. Ramirez stayed in the game and drew a walk. But after gingerly making his way to first base, Ramirez was replaced by a pinch runner.
X-rays were negative and Ramirez said he hopes to play on Wednesday.
The player who replaced Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, was at the center of a fruitless night for the Sox.
Blake Swihart led off the fifth inning with a double off T.J. McFarland. With two outs and Swihart still at second, Castillo came up for the first time. He swung at a 3-and-0 pitch and popped to right field with David Ortiz on deck.
Castillo, a .245 hitter entering the game, had the green light.
“Against a lefthander, thinking he’s got a chance to put a good swing on a ball,” Farrell said.
The Sox didn’t put another runner in scoring position until the eighth inning. Facing Chaz Roe, Dustin Pedroia was hit by a pitch, a fastball near his head grazing his hand as he jumped out of the way. Brock Holt then walked.
Castillo bunted out in front of the plate and catcher Matt Wieters threw out Pedroia at third.
There appeared to be some confusion about whether Castillo was supposed to bunt.
“Well, he ends up getting a bunt down and Wieters makes a great play,” Farrell said. “We were just trying to make sure the communication was clear.”
Pedroia, one of the best base runners in the game, got an uncharacteristically poor jump off second. Did he know Castillo was bunting?
“Well, after the first pitch there is always the potential for a backdoor pick or an inside move,” Farrell said. “You’ve got to make sure the ball is being delivered to home plate.”
Asked again, Farrell said Castillo was supposed to bunt.
Said Pedroia: “I guess I didn’t get a good jump.”
The Orioles went to closer Zach Britton and he struck out Ortiz and Mike Napoli. After starter Miguel Gonzalez left the game in the fifth inning with a groin strain, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter made all the right moves with his bullpen.
“We had some opportunities. The two-out base hit wasn’t there,” Farrell said. “They matched up from the fifth inning on. Again, Eddie led the way. He gave us every opportunity to win this ballgame.”
Rodriguez added to what has been a brilliant introduction to the majors. He allowed three hits — all singles — walked three, and struck out seven. He has given up one run on eight hits over 20⅔ innings in his three starts while striking out 21.
“We’re looking at a pretty special young man,” Farrell said.
The Orioles were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position against Rodriguez. He left two runners stranded in the first inning and got a double play to end a threat in the fourth. The fifth inning was when the real work was done.
J.J. Hardy led off with a single before Rodriguez hit Ryan Flaherty with a first-pitch fastball.
Manny Machado grounded to shortstop, the ball too slowly hit for a double play. Xander Bogaerts smartly changed direction and flipped to third base to force Hardy.
Rodriguez struck out Delmon Young and Adam Jones on seven pitches, both going down swinging at fastballs. Rodriguez pounded his fist into his glove and yelled as he came off the mound.
“For me, that was the best place in the game,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez retired the Orioles in order in the sixth inning. At 102 pitches, his night was over.
“I just want to keep going, keep working hard to get better,” Rodriguez said.
The Orioles were happy to see anybody else on the mound in the seventh and they went to work immediately on Matt Barnes.
Steve Pearce doubled to right field, the ball bouncing off the out-of-town scoreboard. Hardy followed with a single to center. A wild pitch scored Pearce.
Barnes held the Orioles there, but Baltimore had the only run it needed.
“It’s tough. You want to come in, put up a zero for your team, and give them a chance to go out there and put up some runs,” Barnes said. “It’s unfortunate.”