(Miguel Cabrera photo courtesy Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports)
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Friday, July 5, Comerica Park, Detroit, Mich., 7:10 p.m. EDT.
One of the unsung heroes in Boston’s rotation, Eduardo Rodriguez will likely be counted on for another effort deep into a game as the Red Sox open a three-game set Friday night versus the Detroit Tigers.
Rodriguez hoping jet lag isn’t issue after start in London
Rodriguez (8-4, 4.79 ERA) has not lost in four starts but also failed to win his last two. He picked up the relief corps as best he could in London on Sunday, lasting 5 1-3 innings and yielding two runs and four hits before the bullpen imploded in a nine-run seventh that led to a 12-8 loss to the New York Yankees at Olympic Stadium.
The need to get deep in this contest is a priority given Thursday’s starter Hector Velazquez lasted just 2 1-3 innings and the bullpen had logged 17 2-3 innings in the four games prior to that.
While the left-hander has eight wins in his last 10 decisions after opening the season with back-to-back starts, getting those W’s has not always been pretty. Rodriguez has yielded four or more runs in seven of his last 15 starts, including three of the last five.
If there is reason for optimism, it has been his road form. Since the game in London technically counted as a home game for the Red Sox, Rodriguez is carrying a four-start road winning streak into this contest, during which he has a 2.81 ERA while striking out 25 in 25 2-3 innings.
One of his better outings of the year also came at home versus the Tigers, whom he limited to one run and two hits over six innings of an 11-4 victory April 24. Rodriguez has won back-to-back starts over the Tigers and is 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA in five career starts versus Detroit, but the lone loss came at Comerica Park in 2017.
Boston (46-41) bounced back from its winless weekend in London by taking two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays, including an 8-7 win Thursday night in which it rallied from a five-run deficit with a six-run sixth.
Tigers opt to stick with rookie Soto for series opener
The Tigers are sticking with Gregory Soto (0-2, 8.44) as their starter for this game after manager Ron Gardenhire considered using Ryan Carpenter for the series opener. The fellow left-hander may be an option for Detroit in Sunday’s series finale.
Soto is again trying for his first major league victory. The left-hander failed to last more than four innings in any of his previous six starts spanning his two call-ups, and he was reached for three runs and four hits in 3 1-3 innings before leaving without a decision in Detroit’s 7-5 victory over Washington on Saturday.
Soto has never previously faced the Red Sox.
Detroit (28-54) is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since a three-game run from May 28-31. The Tigers avoided a three-game sweep in Chicago with an 11-5 victory over the White Sox on Thursday for just their third win in 18 games.
The Tigers are:
- 9-19 in their last 28 games vs. left-handed starters.
- 2-7 in their last nine home games vs. left-handed starters.
- 0-4 in their last four during game 1 of a series.
The Red Sox are:
- 5-1 in their last six during game 1 of a series.
- 11-1 in Rodriguez’s last 12 starts during game 1 of a series.
- 10-1 in Rodriguez’s last 11 starts vs. AL Central teams.
OVER 10.5 runs (-121)
The number fell in line with expectations at 10.5 runs. Between Soto’s inability to last deep into games and Rodriguez’s ability to win ugly with Boston mashing the ball, the over is the clear play.
The over is 6-0 in Rodriguez’s last six starts in series openers, 7-0 in his last seven versus sub-.500 teams, 5-0 in his last five against AL Central teams and 10-1 in his last 11 on the road. The over is also 13-5 in Boston’s last 18 games vs. AL Central opponents.
The over has also trended strongly for the Tigers against southpaws, going 6-1 in their last seven at home and 18-7-2 in their last 27.
Red Sox -1.5 runs (-150)
Rodriguez and the Red Sox were going to be the pick regardless of who Tigers manager Gardenhire sent to the mound, but with Soto, there is added confidence in the Red Sox offense continuing to put up enough runs to win.
The lone concern is the left-hander may need to win ugly, but Rodriguez wins, especially on the road. And Boston needs to at least win this series to keep the Yankees within sight in the AL East as well as stay in the pack in the wild-card race heading into the All-Star break.
It will be interesting to see if there is indeed any jet lag from London for Rodriguez, but the Tigers have just not shown enough consistency to believe they can win back-to-back games for the first time in over a month.
Red Sox OVER 6 runs (-131)
As much a confidence pick in Boston’s offense as it is against Soto, the Red Sox have been humming offensively for nearly three weeks. They have scored six or more runs in seven of their last eight games and 14 of the last 17.
The Tigers are coming off a series in which they allowed 21 runs to the White Sox and have also yielded five or more runs in eight of their last 15 home games.
Red Sox -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-125)
Another anti-Soto pick to a degree as the Tigers have not led after five innings in any of his previous five starts (0-3-2). Detroit has also not led after five innings in its last 10 home games (0-9-1), while Boston has gone 3-0-1 in the first five frames of Rodriguez’s last four outings.
OVER 6 runs first 5 innings (-115)
The expectation is the Red Sox will get to Soto, but whether Rodriguez keeps the Tigers in check prevents this pick from having a higher confidence rating. The five-inning over is 8-3-1 in Boston’s last 12 games but 2-4 in Rodriguez’s last six starts. The five-inning over is 2-3 in Soto’s starts, but Boston’s offense may prove too lethal for the rookie to hold down.
Red Sox OVER 2 runs first 3 innings (Even)
Thursday’s win over Toronto marked the first time in seven games the Red Sox failed to score at least two runs in the first three innings. Boston does a significant amount of damage early in games, averaging 2.03 runs in the first three innings — including .90 per game in the third.
Soto has yielded two or more runs in three of his five starts, and a disciplined hitting team like the Red Sox could force the rookie into mistakes that can be exploited.