This is all about the big picture here.
The Red Sox took two of three from the New York Yankees over the weekend. In fact, they’ve won every series they’ve played this month. That’s what good teams do. They win series. But you know what aces do? They sweep series when they get the ball in the final game. Now, is that completely fair to say in the case of David Price in the Bronx last night? No, not really. The Red Sox only scored one run, and had three hits all night, one of which was a home run off the bat of Dustin Pedroia. The only way the Red Sox were winning that game is if Price throws a shutout, which is what an ace has to do to win sometimes, but it’s also unfair to EXPECT that.
Again, this is about the bigger picture. Price allowed three earned runs over 5.2 innings of work. Did he at least keep his team in the game? Sure. But the combination of not even being able to give them six innings, allowing 11 hits and striking out just one batter against the nineteenth best hitting lineup in the MLB, that’s flat out disappointing. But if the Red Sox go out and score 7 runs last night, like they’ve been known to do this year, then nobody’s really talking about Price today. But this isn’t about losing one game in the Bronx; it’s about Price needing to rise to the occasion, and failing to do that. Again.
That’s why this is a bigger picture topic. Three earned runs against the Yankees on the road isn’t a bad start. But that line is what you’d expect from a pretty good number three starter. If Rick Porcello goes out and gives up three earned runs on 11 hits over 5.2 innings, you’d probably be like, eh, not too bad. I’ll take it. But when it’s your ace? No. You can’t accept that, especially when you’re going for a sweep, and this Yankee team couldn’t hit for shit all series. Eleven hits? Come on. Your ace should be giving you seven innings at the minimum in that game.
It’s not all doom and gloom coming out of this Yankee series, though. The Red Sox traded for Drew Pomeranz last week, which I still defend was a necessary move to forfeit Anderson Espinoza in order to get him here, but there was still some discussion over whether or not Boston needs another starter. What if that second starter is Eduardo Rodriguez? Personally, I thought there was no way that Rodriguez was ready to return to the Red Sox rotation this soon. They had sent him down to Pawtucket to work on a third pitch, his slider, and also correct a pitch tipping issue. He was down there for TWO games, and came back. For self-explanatory reasons, I didn’t think that was enough time to correct those problems.
Rodriguez started the middle game on Saturday, and allowed one run on four hits over seven innings with one strikeout to earn the win. A few things here — much like Price, you’re a little confused by the one strikeout, but the strike zone was incredibly inconsistent on Saturday, so I’ll give him a pass. The one run that Rodriguez allowed was on a Brett Gardner home run, but that was really it in terms of solid contact all day, so I guess we can rule out tipping pitches. And about that slider, he threw 25 of them and only allowed one hit on that pitch. The volume of sliders was up, as was the ability to throw that pitch for a strike. That’s something you should be really, really happy about as a Red Sox fan.
I know they looked good on Sunday night against Price, but that’s a weak hitting lineup, so let’s be realistic about our Rodriguez excitement for now. We probably won’t have a better idea until two starts from now, because his next time out is against the Minnesota Twins, who are the worst team in the American League. But what we saw on Saturday was most certainly encouraging. Are we ready to kick in the door of Dave Dombrowski’s office and tell him to stop looking at starting pitching options because Rodriguez is back? Not yet. But I really like what I saw, and you should, too.
Final score: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1