ARLINGTON, Texas — You want eventful? We’ve got eventful.
The Red Sox beat the Rangers 5-1 on Thursday night, and the story was rookie left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who made his debut one to remember.
Pitching efficiently and at times looking overpowering, Rodriguez silenced a dangerous offense in its home park while making a case for an extended stay in the rotation.
Rodriguez limited the Rangers to 3 hits in 7 2/3 shutout innings, striking out seven. His fastball routinely punctured the 95-97 mph range and he drew 10 swings and misses. He used his slider, his third pitch, effectively, and incorporated his changeup as the game wore on, throwing 68 of his 105 pitches for strikes.
The 22-year-old’s performance couldn’t have come at a better time, with the Red Sox fresh off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Twins that dropped them to 21-26, just percentage points out of last place in the American League East.
The plan had been for Rodriguez to make one start as the sixth man in the rotation and then rejoin Triple A Pawtucket. But considering the struggles of the rotation, it’s hard to imagine Rodriguez pitching anywhere other than the big leagues when he makes his next start.
On any other night, he’d be the only story that mattered, but two other developments loomed large as well, one good and one bad.
First, the bad news. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts got drilled on the left wrist by a Nick Martinez fastball in the second and was lifted two innings later for pinch hitter Carlos Peguero. Bogaerts appeared to be in considerable pain before remaining in the game, but he didn’t last long and the Red Sox later announced that he departed with a forearm contusion.
There was good news, though, in the form of designated hitter Hanley Ramirez, who punished a pair of balls to left field, including his first home run of May. The Red Sox have stuck with Ramirez since he injured his left shoulder at the end of April, and he showed signs of ending a month-long power outage.
While Bogaerts’ situation could have a huge impact on the roster, that is a problem for tomorrow. For right now, Rodriguez is the story, and what a story it is.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Can it be anyone else? Rodriguez was exactly what the doctor ordered for a Red Sox rotation desperately needing talent. His fastball had the Rangers on their heels and he attacked the zone. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— Seeing Ramirez rediscover his power stroke could go a long way towards solving some of the team’s offensive problems, particularly with slumping DH David Ortiz sitting out at least the first half of this series to work on his swing.
— Give rookie catcher Blake Swihart credit for calling a strong game. If the Rangers read a scouting report on Rodriguez, it undoubtedly said to watch out for his changeup. But Swihart crossed them up by not calling one until the third inning and Rodriguez kept them off-balance. Swihart also went 2 for 4 with a run and two RBIs.
— Dustin Pedroia continues to shine in the leadoff spot. He stroked three hits to push his average in the spot to .400. He has at least one hit in each of his seven starts there.
— Mookie Betts went 3 for 5 with a triple and RBI.
WHAT WENT WRONG
— The Bogaerts injury is a huge concern, because the Red Sox lack depth at shortstop. If Bogaerts misses any length of time, Brock Holt is next in line, with Deven Marrero waiting in the wings at Pawtucket.
— After beating out an infield single in the third, Betts was promptly picked off first.