Rodriguez looks to keep Red Sox rolling vs. Tigers

BOSTON — Eduardo Rodriguez, who has been on a roll of his own, looks to keep the Boston Red Sox rolling when he faces the Detroit Tigers in the second contest of the three-game series at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

The Red Sox are winners of three straight to raise their record to 42-19, the best mark in baseball — and Rodriguez has also won three in a row as he goes against left-hander Blaine Hardy.

Boston, which still leads the New York Yankees by one game atop the American League East, has won 42 of its first 61 games for the third time in team history, the first time since posting the same record in 1978. And Rodriguez has been one of the reasons.

He comes into Wednesday’s start having allowed four earned runs and striking out 21 in 17 innings in his last three starts. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last five and is 6-1 with a 3.88 ERA on the season after coming off knee surgery.

The Red Sox are 10-1 in his 11 starts this season.

His performance has helped steady a rotation that remains somewhat in flux. Drew Pomeranz went on the disabled list for the second time Tuesday. Steven Wright, making what was supposed to be a spot start, pitched seven scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over the Tigers and prospect Jalen Beeks will make his major league debut in Thursday’s series finale.

Beeks, a left-hander is 3-3 with a 2.56 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and .197 batting average against in 10 starts for Triple-A Pawtucket. He has struck out 80 and walked 14 in 56 1/3 innings.

Wright, making his first start since last April 29, is back in the rotation and said: “It’s been since August of 2016 since I’ve gone out there healthy.”

Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA lifetime against the Tigers, who fell to 29-33 with their third loss in their last four games Tuesday night. They were shut out for the eighth time this season and had three hits in the game — the ninth time in 2018 they had three or fewer hits while being blanked.

Now, they turn to Hardy, who is 2-0 with the major league club this season, 11-4 in his career. He has thrown — and won — two straight quality starts, yielding three runs on six hits while striking out nine in 13 innings.

Hardy is 1-1 in a pair of relief appearances but hasn’t faced Boston since 2015. He’s aware of the lineup he’ll be facing but goes in fearless.

“I feel like part of my success has come from not giving the hitters too much credit,” he told the Detroit News Tuesday. “Don’t get me wrong, their lineup here is very strong. But as soon as you have those negative thoughts in the back of your head, that can affect how you pitch guys.”

The current Detroit roster is hitting a collective .351 with four homers in 37 at-bats against Rodriguez. Victor Martinez is 3-for-6 while James McCann and Jose Iglesias are each 3-for-7, with two of McCann’s hits home runs.

J.D. Martinez, playing against one of his former teams for a second straight series and facing Detroit for the first time since he was traded to Arizona last season, became baseball’s first 20-homer hitter with a two-run shot in the first inning Tuesday.

“There’s no animosity or anything like that,” he said of the Tigers. “I really came into my own there, so I’ve got a lot of love for that organization. I wish them nothing but the best.”

Dustin Pedroia, who went back on the disabled list with inflammation in his surgically repaired left knee, hopes to resume baseball activities later this week.

“Everything about the surgery is fine,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “He just has some inflammation. Hopefully he’ll be with us sooner than later.”

Detroit third baseman Jeimer Candelerio left Tuesday’s game with a jammed right middle finger and is day-to-day.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said reliever Alex Wilson, on the disabled list with a foot injury, will rejoin the team in Boston but will not be activated until Thursday.