Eduardo Rodriguez roughed up by Red Sox as Tigers fall, 6-3

Detroit News

Boston  — It wasn’t quite the fairy tale return Eduardo Rodriguez hoped for, making his first trip back to Fenway Park, where he pitched for six seasons.

“I was trying to get pitches down and I missed over the plate, you are always going to pay for that,” said Rodriguez, who ended up enduring his worst start in a Detroit uniform, allowing six runs and 10 hits in five innings as the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 6-3, in the series finale Sunday.

BOX SCORE: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3

“The first thing I look at with Eduardo was his struggles with two outs,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He could get into his innings a little bit, but he struggled at the end.”

Things started going down a bad path for him with two outs in the second inning.

He walked Triston Casas, the lone lefty in the Boston lineup, on five pitches, then fell behind No. 8 hitter Connor Wong. He lined an RBI triple to right field and the Red Sox kept hitting rockets.

Rodriguez, who had never allowed more than five runs in any start with the Tigers, hung an 0-2 changeup to Justin Turner in the third. That ball cleared the Green Monster in left and landed on Lansdowne Street.

“I wanted that pitch to be down and I left it up,” Rodriguez said. “They are good hitters over there. I tried to be on the corners as much as I could but I made some mistakes.”

It was Turner’s 19th home run and to Hinch it felt like a case of a veteran hitter having the right plan of attack.

“Yeah, my sense is he was game-planning for (the changeup), he got it and he didn’t miss it,” Hinch said.

Trevor Story, who ended up with three doubles and four hits, followed with a single. Seeing that Rodriguez was paying little to no attention to him, he stole second and third base and scored on a two-out single by Adam Duvall.

“The two-out runs are the most frustrating thing that happened to me,” Rodriguez said.

In the fifth inning, after Akil Baddoo lost a routine fly ball in the sun and Masataka Yoshida bounced a single between Zach McKinstry at second and Zack Short at short, Duvall pummeled a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left.

“Those big blows are hard to overcome,” Hinch said. “They delivered the biggest punches but Eduardo hung in there trying to keep us in the game.”

The Red Sox put 17 balls in play with an average exit velocity of 94 mph. That damage belies the fact that Rodriguez still struck out eight and got 13 swinging strikes and 20 called strikes.

But credit the Boston hitters. They are pesky and they don’t concede at-bats. In the three games, 25 innings, Tigers pitchers managed only three clean innings.

Highlights were scarce for the Detroiters, but Baddoo provided one. He kept the club’s home run streak alive at nine games. The longest since 2018.

“We’ve taken some good swings in this park, the lefties going oppo, because of how inviting that wall can be in left,” said Hinch, referencing the five homers the Tigers launched over the Monster in this series, three by left-handed hitters. “It actually helps leftes to have confidence they can track the ball. You give yourself so much of a chance when you let the ball travel a little before you make a decision.”

The evolution of at-bats leading into the home run showed Baddoo’s growing maturity level at the plate.

He swung at the first pitch of the game from Red Sox starter Kutter Crawford and kicked himself all the way back to the dugout after fouling out.

Second time up, Baddoo dug in. He battled Crawford for 10 pitches, fouling off five of them with two strikes. He saw four-seam fastballs, cutters, sliders, splitters, sweepers and a knuckle curve. The proverbial kitchen sink, in other words.

He drove the 10th pitch, the curveball, to the wall in left, right into left fielder Yoshida’s glove. But he knew there was nothing Crawford could throw him that he couldn’t handle.

So when he came to bat in the fifth inning, he jumped all over a first-pitch fastball and lofted it over the Monster, his seventh homer on the season.

“For the most part, I just said, ‘Be aggressive,'” Baddoo said. “I’d seen everything. If he tried to get one over, just make sure I put a good swing on it and I did.”

Riley Greene continues to drive baseballs on a daily basis. He extended his hitting streak to seven games with a pair of doubles. He has hit safely in 49 of his last 60 games. Coming into play Sunday, he was slashing .336/.400/.527 in that stretch.

He tried to stretch the second double into a triple in the eighth inning after it bounced to the wall in left and was thrown out after a strong relay throw by shortstop Story.

It proved costly after Matt Vierling singled and Kerry Carpenter hit a ground-rule double. Spencer Torkelson grounded out to end the empty threat.

“I look back on it and I think I should have stayed at second,” Greene said. “The tag he (Luis Urias) put on me was a really good tag. Just blind, put it on my right hand. If doesn’t put that tag right there I’m safe. But looking back, I shouldn’t try to push the envelope there.

“It’s late in the game and (Vierling) came up with a knock. We’d have scored a run. Kind of a learning experience.”

Hinch was asked if he thought it was good hustle by Greene or over-zealousness.

“Both,” he said. “The ball bounced past (Rob Refsnyder in left) and Riley got a little excitable. There’s probably two or three ballparks in the league where you can’t make that decision, this being one of them. It was a bang-bang play and we went to review…But down by three, that’s good hustle but a difficult out to absorb.”

The Tigers, who snapped a nine-game losing streak against Boston on Saturday, have lost 10 of 11 against the Red Sox dating to July of 2022.

In the ninth inning, the Boston crowd, recognizing Miguel Cabrera was coming to bat for the final time at Fenway Park, without stadium prompting, gave him a long, warm ovation, causing the game to be stopped for a moment. They gave him a standing ovation, too, after he flew out to center.

Might have been the best Cabrera celebration to date, outside of Miami.

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

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