Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:
1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.
When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.
"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''
Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.
If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.
"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''
2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.
When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.
But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.
"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''
"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''
It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.
3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.
Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.
There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.
Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.
Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.
Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.
Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.