Misses cost Rodriguez in return to Fenway Park

Detroit Tigers

As the club headed to Minnesota to enjoy an off-day on Monday before opening a two-game set, here are three things that stood out during the finale at Fenway Park:

Rodriguez’s homecoming
No stranger to pitching at Fenway after playing six seasons with the Red Sox, Eduardo Rodriguez returned to his former home ballpark for the first time as a visiting pitcher.

Rodriguez opened the game with back-to-back strikeouts before allowing a double to Trevor Story. Though he escaped on 16 pitches, the first inning foreshadowed a theme of Rodriguez’s day: trouble with two outs.

The next inning, Rodriguez again retired his first two batters before issuing a walk and an RBI triple. Rodriguez also gave up two homers to finish his day with six earned runs, the most he’s been charged with in a Tigers uniform.

“You miss a lot of the plate, you always pay for it,” Rodriguez said. “I was trying to get some pitches down in the strike zone and I was missing in the middle of the plate, and I paid for it.”

Rodriguez racked up eight strikeouts and generated six whiffs on his four-seamer, but he was hurt by hard contact. Hitters averaged an 89.4 mph exit velocity off the righty, with Adam Duvall’s three-run homer coming off the bat at 106.9 mph.

“I know the big blows are hard to overcome, whether it’s Turner’s solo [home run], or Duvall’s homer was a tough one,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “They delivered the biggest punch, but Eduardo hung in there, trying to keep us in the game.”

The home run to Turner came on an 0-2 changeup, the first homer Rodriguez has allowed on the pitch this season.

“It feels like early on he shied away from the changeup on purpose, probably because we know that’s his pitch, but I think it happened last year, too,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “The second time around, guys start putting good swings on it.”

Rodriguez was warmly welcomed back to Fenway with a loud ovation and video tribute during Friday’s series opener.

Miggy’s farewell tour continues
Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-8 in the two games he played this series, but he drove in the Tigers’ first run on Sunday with an RBI groundout in the 2nd. Cabrera finished his career with a .265 average in 45 games at Fenway Park.

The likely future Hall of Famer received an ovation in his final at-bat during the ninth inning. Cabrera took a moment to step back and tip his helmet to the Fenway crowd. Following the lead of other teams, the Red Sox gifted Cabrera a No. 24 Green Monster placard ahead of Saturday’s game, presented by Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner and Chris Sale.

After Sale got Cabrera to ground out to shortstop in the fifth inning of Friday’s opener, the veteran lefty gave Cabrera a “tip of the cap” to pay respects to the slugger in their final meeting.

“It wasn’t fun learning how to pitch in the big leagues as a starter during his Triple Crown and MVP years, let me tell you that,” Sale said on Friday. “But I knew that this was going to be the last time that I faced him, and I just wanted him to know that I have a lot of respect for him.”

Lange shows progress
After walking three batters in each of his past three outings — something no MLB pitcher had done in three consecutive outings of an inning or fewer since Rob Dibble in 1995 — Alex Lange came into the finale in the seventh with a 6-3 deficit. Lange pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one and walking one on a close ball four call.

“It was encouraging,” Hinch said. “He threw more fastballs today, tightened up his breaking ball a bit. Got squeezed on the walk. It’s hard to hold that against him.”

As Lange continues to work back from his recent skid, Hinch said that the righty reliever will re-enter leverage situations as early as Tuesday at Minnesota.

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