E-Rod's dominance vs. Cubs draws praise

E-Rod's dominance vs. Cubs draws praise

BOSTON -- Eduardo Rodriguez could be on the verge of transforming from a pitcher who shows flashes of dominance to one who is dominant quite often.

Pitching on arguably the biggest stage of his young career, a Sunday Night Baseball start against the Cubs, the left-hander was in command in a contest the Red Sox won, 6-2.

Over six innings, Rodriguez allowed five hits and a run, walking two and striking out nine. He left with a 2-1 lead but wound up with a no-decision when the Cubs rallied to tie it in the seventh.

There was that one misfire to Kris Bryant that last season's National League Most Valuable Player pummeled over the Green Monster. But other than that, Rodriguez appeared to be putting his pitches wherever he wanted.

"He did a great job," said Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. "His changeup was the best changeup I've seen from him. He pitched, I think, the best game that I've ever seen from him."

The performance came on the heels of a six-inning, one-hit, scoreless performance against the Orioles.

Rodriguez has always had stuff. But as is the case for most young pitchers, command is the final piece. Once that comes, the true momentum starts.

In Sunday's contest, Rodriguez could essentially be a two-pitch pitcher because his fastball and changeup were complementing each other so well. He wound up throwing 66 fastballs and 29 changeups among his 108 pitches. The changeup generated nine swings and misses.

"I felt it was possible to command my pitches well, especially my changeup tonight," Rodriguez said.

When the Red Sox got swept by the Indians in the American League Division Series last October, it prevented Rodriguez from tasting what it is like to pitch big games in October. After Sunday, he thinks he has a better idea of how it would feel.

"It must feel like this because there's a lot of history between those teams and to face them got me really excited to have the opportunity," Rodriguez said.

With David Price sidelined for at least a few more weeks with a left elbow strain, the Red Sox are counting on Rodriguez more than ever.

The 24-year-old Rodriguez will surely have more confidence after a night like Sunday.

"I'm sure tonight is a big boost for it, particularly against that lineup," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "The setting is one thing but his ability to go out and make really good pitches in key moments is a big development in its own right."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.