Red Sox

Christian Vazquez claims the Red Sox are 'back' after sweep of Orioles

Christian Vazquez claims the Red Sox are 'back' after sweep of Orioles

After losing five of six to the Rays and Rangers, two teams the Red Sox will continue to compete with in the American League playoff race, it was gut-check time for the defending World Series champs. 

They were 35-34 and at risk of falling too far behind in the AL Wild Card standings, but the Red Sox were able to save a split against Texas by winning the last two games of that series, and then followed it up with a sweep of the lowly Orioles. 

After their 8-6 victory in the final game at Camden Yards, Christian Vazquez said, "We're back." 

It's hard to tell if he's right after three games they should have won, but the Sox have shown signs of life during their five-game winning streak. They've averaged 7.8 runs and 12.2 hits over the last five games and have belted 14 home runs over that span. 

The Red Sox now sit 5.5 games behind the AL East-leading Yankees and are tied with the Rangers for the second Wild Card spot, holding a half-a-game lead over Cleveland. 

Last season, everything went right for this team, and this year they've had to fight through major adversity to stay alive in the playoff hunt. Perhaps this is the time we can look back on as the turning point for another deep run in October or just another example of what could have been. 

Either way, we'll probably get a better idea of where the Red Sox stand when they travel to Minnesota on Monday for a three-game set against one of the best teams in the American League. 

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Alex Cora: Eduardo Rodriguez becoming 'the guy we envisioned'

Alex Cora: Eduardo Rodriguez becoming 'the guy we envisioned'

Red Sox fans could get used to this version of Eduardo Rodriguez.

The left-hander was sensational in Monday night's 9-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing only two hits and not giving up a run in seven innings of work. Manager Alex Cora has been especially critical of Rodriguez in the past for his inconsistencies, but he came away thrilled with what he saw in Tampa Bay.

“We know how good he can be. I think you get to a point in your career where you realize your stuff is good, really good, and you don’t have to be David [Price] or Chris [Sale] or Rick [Porcello],” Cora told reporters. “You learn from them but at the end, your stuff is that good. He’s learning every outing. … Little by little he’s becoming the guy we envisioned. He’s a strong guy. I don’t think we have to put a limit with him. … He worked hard in the offseason, body-wise and you can see it. He’s doing an outstanding job.”

Rodriguez has been impressive over his last five starts, lowering his ERA from 4.87 to 4.10 in that span. With the latest win, his record on the season improves to 12-4.

Although efficiency is still an area that needs improvement (he had four walks on Monday night), it's encouraging to see E-Rod making strides for a struggling rotation that needs all the help it can get down the stretch.

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Red Sox' Nathan Eovaldi rusty in return from injured list

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File photo

Red Sox' Nathan Eovaldi rusty in return from injured list

Nathan Eovaldi made his long-awaited return to the mound for the Red Sox on Monday night.

The right-hander, who was activated from the 60-day injured list on Saturday, entered the game in the eighth inning vs. the Rays. The good news is Eovaldi had an eight-run cushion to work with. The bad news is he was a bit rusty in his first appearance since April.

He began his inning by allowing a leadoff infield single to Guillermo Heredia, then allowed Heredia to take second on a wild pitch. Travis d'Arnaud followed up with an RBI double, and another wild pitch allowed him to reach third.

Eovaldi rebounded by striking out Tommy Pham, but he then gave up an RBI double to Austin Meadows and RBI single to Yandy Diaz.

After striking out Avisail Garcia and allowing a single to Michael Brosseau, Eovaldi was replaced by Matt Barnes. He finished with a final line of 2/3 innings pitched, five hits, three earned runs, and two strikeouts.

While his return didn't go quite as planned, one positive takeaway is Eovaldi's velocity was in the upper 90s during his brief outing. He reflected on his performance following Boston's 9-4 win saying he "felt fine" physically, but needs to "do a better job of locating his secondary pitches" going forward.

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