PORTLAND, Maine — For the first time in six years, two rehabbing Red Sox players made simultaneous starts for the Portland Sea Dogs on Monday night.
Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and catcher Christian Vazquez took the field together in a 12-6 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Hadlock Field.
It was also the first time in team history the Sea Dogs fielded a Major League pitcher and catcher combination. It’s an important step for both players determined to get back to the majors and help the Red Sox end their recent losing skid.
A week ago it looked like Boston was on a historic run toward breaking the team record for wins in a single season. But over the weekend, the Red Sox were swept in a three-game series with Tampa Bay. They’ve also lost seven out of their last 12 games.
The Red Sox are currently up six-and-a-half games over the New York Yankees. On August 28, 1978, the Sox were up by seven and a half games. That was the year of their epic collapse, one-game tiebreaker playoff loss to the Yankees and Bucky “Bleepin’” Dent’s homerun.
As Boston’s Double-A minor league affiliate, Portland is a frequent stopover for Red Sox players rehabilitating from injuries.
Rodriguez hasn’t pitched for Boston since he sprained his ankle covering first base on July 14. He made his first rehab start last Monday against New Hampshire at Hadlock Field. In that outing, the lefty tossed four scoreless innings, giving up one hit and fanning eight.
This week, Rodriguez gave up two hits, walked two and didn’t give up a run in four innings of work. He also struck out six.
Rodriguez said his ankle feels fine. He hopes to rejoin the Red Sox soon but may still have to make a Triple-A minor league start in Pawtucket before that happens.
“I’m going to see what they’re going to do, what they’re thinking and we’ll go from there,” said Rodriguez.
Of his teammate Vazquez, Rodriguez added, “He was really good over there.”
Vazquez last played for Boston on July 7, in Kansas City, where he fractured his pinky finger. He had surgery on July 10, repairing the damage. He’s reportedly been hitting and catching in Boston over the past week.
In Portland on Monday, Vazquez got one hit in two at-bats. He batted in a run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning and two more runs on a single in the second.
“It was tough to grab the bat when I broke my finger,” said Vazquez. “That day was pain but now it feels good.”
Vazquez also said it was pleasant to be back in Portland, even under the circumstances.
“It was my home for two years. It feels great to be back here,” said the catcher, who, like Rodriguez, played for the Sea Dogs before reaching the major leagues.
Vazquez said he’d be going to Pawtucket on Tuesday and hopes to catch Rodriguez for the Red Sox when they face the White Sox in Chicago on Saturday.
“I think we’re going to be there,” he said.
Boston’s ace pitcher Chris Sale remains on the disabled list with shoulder swelling. Also sidelined by injury are knuckleballer Steven Wright and third baseman Rafael Devers. Both are said to be close to returning to the club.
It’s unclear if Wright or Devers will make an appearance in Portland. The Sea Dogs’ season ends on Labor Day. After Monday’s game, only three home games remain.
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