Ogando giving Red Sox some much-needed relief


TORONTO -- Thoughts from Tuesday night's 4-3 Red Sox victory over the Blue Jays:

In an otherwise poor offseason for Ben Cherington, Alexi Ogando stands out

So far, the Red Sox GM's moves haven't panned out. There were expensive signings of free agents Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, two contracts that appear onerous. There was the trade for the struggling Rick Porcello, which got compounded by a questionable contract extension in April.

Cherington grossly overpaid Justin Masterson, and wouldn't pay Andrew Miller enough to keep him away from the Yankees.

But the Sox outmaneuvered teams on Alexi Ogando, and that has resulted in a winning move to help the Red Sox bullpen.

Ogando is among the league leaders in appearances and has pitched to a 2.88 ERA with a WHIP of 1.07.

Earlier in the season, Ogando struggled in giving up the long ball, allowing five homers. But he's given up just two in his last 20 appearances.

On Tuesday night, Ogando got four huge outs for the Sox, helping to bridge the seventh inning to the ninth and get the Sox to closer Koji Uehara on a night when the Sox didn't want to use Junichi Tazawa -- who has a poor history against Toronto -- or any of their available lefty relievers.

The Sox could still use another dependable set-up arm if they're going to stay in the race, but Ogando has been a terrific find.

Eduardo Rodriguez's accomplishments shouldn't be overlooked.

Rodriguez is far from a finished project. His starts at home against Toronto two weeks ago, and Baltimore just last week, were reminders that the education of a rookie pitcher is ongoing, that adjustments need to made constantly, and that few pitchers arrive in the big leagues fully formed.

The young lefty must cure his habit of tipping pitches -- something he did on occasion again Tuesday night -- and make corrections within starts. But consider that in five of his first seven big-league starts, Rodriguez has allowed either one or no runs. That's a remarkable feat in and of itself. Rodriguez must figure out how to get deeper into games still. He's pitched into the eighth inning just once, and even in two of his better starts, he's been done after six. On Tuesday night, good as he was, he needed 97 pitches for just 18 outs.

But you can see how dominant Rodriguez can be. And limiting the opposition to no more than a run five times out of seven is pretty impressive at any level. For a 22-year-old, just getting his feet wet at the major league level, it's especially impressive.

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