Red Sox’s Rodriguez returns to face Blue Jays (Jul 17, 2017)
BOSTON — Eduardo Rodriguez’s return to the rotation figures to be a boost for the Boston Red Sox, but it is the offensive side of the ball where the team needs the most help.
Rodriguez comes off the disabled list to start Monday as the American League East-leading Red Sox host the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a four-game series at Fenway Park.
Boston (52-41) managed a split in its doubleheader with the New York Yankees on Sunday and a split of the four-game set that began the second half of the season, but Red Sox manager John Farrell suggested a lineup change might be in store Monday.
“Getting into the next series, there’s a possibility of a little bit of a different look,” Farrell said after his team’s 3-0 loss in Game 1 of the twin bill. “Maybe (we will) try to jump-start some things, shake things up a little bit. (I) have not ruled that out.”
After losing to the Yankees 4-1 in a 16-inning game Saturday that lasted five hours and 50 minutes, Boston was blanked in the day game Sunday and extended its scoreless streak to 22 innings entering the nightcap.
Mookie Betts’ two-run homer in the third inning Sunday night ended the scoreless stretch and propelled the Red Sox to a 3-0 victory.
With the win, Boston moved three games clear of the Tampa Bay Rays and 3 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees atop the American League East. Toronto (42-29) is tied for last place in the division with the Baltimore Orioles, nine games behind the Red Sox.
Toronto fell 6-5 to Detroit on a bases-loaded walk in the 11th inning Sunday, giving the Blue Jays back-to-back losses as the Tigers took two of three games in the series.
“Really, the way we’ve been playing, we’re where we should be, the way we’ve been playing in all phases of the game,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “Tough one (Sunday), tough long one.”
Marcus Stroman (9-5, 3.28 ERA) hopes to reverse that trend on Monday as he seeks a fourth straight effective outing.
After coughing up seven runs on seven hits in four innings against the Texas Rangers on June 22, Stroman has gone 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in three outings since.
Stroman is 4-2 with a 5.07 ERA in eight career starts against Boston and 1-1 with a 4.97 mark in two starts at Fenway.
On April 18, Stroman was tagged for six runs on 11 hits and a walk with four punchouts in a 4 2/3-inning loss to the Red Sox in Toronto.
Xander Bogaerts is 10-for-20 (.500) with a solo home run lifetime against Stroman.
Dustin Pedroia (7-for-15, .467), Mookie Betts (6-for-19, .316), Hanley Ramirez (3-for-11, .273) and Mitch Moreland (3-for-3) have three RBIs apiece against the pitcher.
Rodriguez (4-2, 3.54 ERA) sustained a right knee subluxation on June 1 and has not pitched since, missing 39 games and making three minor league rehab starts.
In his last rehab outing, on July 9 for Triple-A Pawtucket, Rodriguez pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up one run on six hits, no walks and one hit batter with seven strikeouts.
The 24-year-old left-hander is 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA in six career outings (five starts) against Toronto.
Jose Bautista (3-for-13, .231), Russell Martin (3-for-9), Ryan Goins (1-for-2) and Darwin Barney (1-for-1) have hit one home run apiece versus Rodriguez. Bautista and Martin each have three RBIs against the left-hander.