USA Today Sports

Eduardo Rodriguez got his manager's message

Rob Bradford
September 30, 2018 - 11:08 pm

It was perhaps the biggest takeaway Saturday and might have also highlighted Sunday's regular-season finale as well.

Consider it the two-day education of Eduardo Rodriguez.

After Saturday's lackluster relief outing, in which Rodriguez allowed three runs on four hits with two walks over his two innings, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was pointed in his postgame analysis.

"Not good," Cora immediately said when asked about the lefty's performance.

Sunday's inning?

"That was good," the manager said, cracking a smile.

While we're talking just a pair of relief stints, there is obviously a reason the performances of Rodriguez meant so much to the manager. The pitcher clearly represents a key element to the Red Sox' postseason blueprint, whether it's as a high-leverage reliever or starter. It was why Cora made it clear to the 25-year-old that his approach needed to change after Saturday, and he was going to give him another chance Sunday to make the fix.

"Yeah, I talked to him last night," Cora said after his team's 108th win. "You’ve got one inning tomorrow. We have to pitch with conviction, there’s a purpose. And he did." 

It wasn't the first time Cora hasn't shied away from offering candid postgame analysis when it comes to Rodriguez, making it clear to the media and the player that the pitcher needed to start getting deeper into games, needing 109 pitches to complete 5 2/3 innings against the Orioles.

This time the sense of urgency wasn't lost on Rodriguez.

After an Adeiny Hechavarria groundout, the Sox hurler got Brett Gardner to swing and miss at a 3-2 changeup before fanning Aaron Judge with a beautiful cutter on the outside corner than the slugger was left looking at.

"The velocity was good," Cora said. "He threw a changeup to Gardner, good pitch there. Backdoor cutter to strike Judge out up in the zone. That was a lot better than (Saturday)."