Season shaping up as E-Rod's breakout

Red Sox lefty stifles M's in 7th straight quality start, wins 4th in a row

Season shaping up as E-Rod's breakout

BOSTON -- Now 50 starts into his career, Eduardo Rodriguez is ready to take off.

The 24-year-old lefty continued what is shaping up to be a breakout season Friday night at Fenway Park, as he stifled the Mariners for six innings to lead the Red Sox to a 3-0 victory.

Rodriguez (4-1, 2.77 ERA) is entering that special place where performances like that are starting to become the expectation.

This was his seventh consecutive quality start, the second-longest streak among current American League pitchers. His personal winning streak is at four games, and the Red Sox have won six of his past seven starts.

"It's just a matter of his abilities coming together," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "This has always been an extremely talented young guy. We've talked about his maturity. We've talked about his progression. It's been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively. He's in a very good place. It's good to see him put it together."

The Red Sox already have one stud left-hander at the very top of his game in Chris Sale. They have another five-time All-Star ready to come back from the disabled list on Monday in David Price.

And now, they have E-Rod, who could make a run at being an All-Star.

Rodriguez strikes out Gamel

"It's incredible," said Red Sox setup man Matt Barnes. "It's been fun to kind of watch him. To be along that ride with him, to watch him come from '15 and '16 and watch him mature into the fantastic pitcher that he is right now, it's incredible. His preparation, his dedication, he has a fantastic routine that is working for him right now."

Rodriguez has the entire arsenal working for him. In Friday's game, he threw 76 four-seamers, 17 changeups, eight two-seamers, seven cutters and four sliders.

"Like I say, just go out there and try to do the best I can do, just throw my pitches, try to get outs and get zeros," he said. "That's what I try to do all the time."

And he has some pretty good mentors to learn from. Rodriguez has soaked up lessons from Sale, Price and even right-hander Rick Porcello like a sponge.

"Every time I go into a game, I ask them how they attack this guy, how they pitch this guy," Rodriguez said. "Just the way I look at them and how they attack and pitch and be aggressive, I just put that in play, too."

Rodriguez finished Friday's outing by freezing Danny Valencia on a fastball that was on the black of the outside corner. His 112th pitch was one of his best.

"They march him out there for 110-plus pitches and all of them were competitive," said Mariners catcher Mike Zunino. "We needed to take some opportunities to try to put some pressure on him, but he did a good job of keeping us down."

There doesn't seem to be any letup in sight.

"I don't think there's any one thing you can point to," said Farrell. "He's generated a lot of talk because of the run that he's on and he's doing a very good job -- that's clear. But it's been a combination of a lot of things that's culminated in increased confidence, pitching very relaxed with very good stuff."

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.