Alex Cora noticed the difference: Eduardo Rodriguez was throwing a whole lot of sliders.
"He’s good. We know the stuff, everybody knows it. Velocity, location, the change-up. He actually threw a lot of sliders early in the game," said the Red Sox manager after his team's 11-4 win over the Tigers. "He's in command. You guys know, I’m hard on him but everybody is because we know how good he can be. It's good to see him compete at this level this way and we expect him to do that every time he goes out there, to go deep into games, and dominate."
When you get 13 outs before giving up a single hit you know you're doing something right, and that was the case with Rodriguez Wednesday night. Allowing one run on two hits over six innings the lefty utilized the aforementioned slider in fine fashion, tossing it 16 times.
So, what made Rodriguez throw the pitch with such confidence this time around? Consider it a gift from Dustin Pedroia.
"To see the movement, and to see it was located pretty good right where I wanted. It's funny because four days ago, I was talking with Pedey in the dugout and he told me, 'Hey, do you want to throw a really good breaking ball?' I was like, 'Yeah, bro, I've been battling to throw a breaking ball since I got here in the big leagues, since I was in the minor leagues,'" Rodriguez explained. "He told me, 'Throw the ball like this and hold it like that,' and two days ago I started throwing it with my knee over there, and it's funny because the first time I threw that kind of breaking ball was today and it was working. So I've just got to say thanks to him."
What?! "The grip, he showed me the grip, and I started doing it two days ago," the Sox starter reiterated. "I told him, 'Bro, I'm going to throw that today, and you tell me how it is,' and I think it worked pretty good. ... I don't know. He just told me that he was throwing that when he was in school. He just told me how to throw it and I've got to say thank you to him."
The pitch was a difference-maker for Rodriguez, who still relied mostly on a mid-90's fastball that he utilized on 47 of his 90 pitches. Along with a changeup he threw 14 times the starter was able to keep a right-handed-hitting-heavy Detroit lineup at bay.
The pitch made a huge difference for Rodriguez, and Rodriguez -- who has now turned in three straight solid outings -- is making a huge difference for the Red Sox, who have now won each of the pitcher's last three starts.