Alex Cora did not pick his words carefully or turn to any euphemisms when asked his opinion of how Eduardo Rodriguez pitched on Saturday against the Yankees.
“Not good,” he said. “He needs to be better . . . we need him to be better. He’s part of this and whatever role it is, it’s your role and you have to go after it. Today it wasn’t good.”
Rodriguez faced 12 batters and six reached, four of them lefthanded hitters. Greg Bird, a lefty, lined an RBI double to center. Rodriguez then left a two-seam fastball up that Gleyber Torres swatted for a home run.
Rodriguez, as is often his way, didn’t seem particularly concerned.
“They made contact. That’s it,” he said after taking the loss in an 8-5 setback. “I was feeling really good. Just because today I gave up a couple of runs it doesn’t mean I don’t feel good.”
Rodriguez has a 5.63 earned run average in seven games since coming off the disabled list. Cora said it was possible for Rodriguez to pitch an inning on Sunday.
Cora has said he wants to see more from Rodriguez’s fastball in relief. The 93-94 m.p.h. he saw Saturday wasn’t that.
“We will see,” Rodriguez said when asked if his fastball would get better.
Back in town
Don Orsillo walked into Fenway Park on Saturday for the first time since Sept. 27, 2015, the final home game of that season.
The NESN announcer was let go that year and quickly landed a lucrative deal with the San Diego Padres that allowed him to pick up national games. He returned to Fenway to call the Yankees-Sox game for Fox with David Cone and A.J. Pierzynski.
The Fenway Park scoreboard showed Orsillo in the middle of the second inning and he received a standing ovation from the crowd. Orsillo waved and put his hand over his heart to acknowledge the response.
Orsillo, who was with NESN for 15 years, said it felt a little strange to be back at Fenway and working in the same broadcast booth he once did.
But he was happy to see so many familiar faces, Cora among them. The manager wrapped Orsillo in a hug when he came in the clubhouse.
Orsillo will be back at Fenway on Sunday, this time to work for TBS on its national broadcast. He also will call the playoffs for TBS next week.
Put a cap on it
Mookie Betts did not play on Saturday but is expected to be in the lineup on Sunday to put the finishing touches on a historically significant season.
Betts leads the majors with a .346 batting average and is sure to finish on top. The last Red Sox player to lead the majors in hitting was Hall of Famer Wade Boggs when he hit .366 in 1988.
Betts also leads the majors in slugging at .641. Through Friday, Mike Trout was second at .635.
Per baseball-reference.com, Betts has a 10.9 WAR, tied for 21st all time in a season for a position player.
To put that in some context, the last American League position player with more was Cal Ripken Jr. with 11.5 in 1991. Every player ahead of Betts is a member of the Hall of Fame with the exception of Barry Bonds.
Oh, and the player Betts is tied with? It’s Ted Williams in what was his best season for WAR, 1946.
The Red Sox stole three bases and now have 125 on the season, one off the franchise record in the live-ball era . . . The season series between the teams is 9-9 . . . Sunday’s game is at 3:05 p.m. Major League Baseball wants all 15 games starting at roughly the same time to heighten any drama for postseason berths. This season that will apply only in the National League . . . After clinching home field in the wild-card game on Friday, the Yankees scratched Lance Lynn and Luis Severino from their starts. To prepare him for the postseason, Lynn came out of the bullpen in the third inning and allowed one run over three innings. Yankees manager Aaron Boone did not name a starter for the wild-card game. Severino, J.A. Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka are the likely candidates . . . Miguel Andujar had his 45th and 46th doubles, breaking the Yankees rookie record of 44 set by Joe DiMaggio in 1936 . . . Yankees lefthander CC Sabathia was fined and suspended for five games at the start of next season for intentionally throwing a pitch at Jesus Sucre of Rays on Thursday. He appealed. Tampa Bay’s Andrew Kittredge was fined and suspended three games for throwing a pitch near the head of Austin Romine.