BOSTON - Rubby De La Rosa lived up to his own name Saturday night at Fenway Park.
The kid pitched a gem.
De La Rosa threw seven innings of shutout ball, allowing four hits and not a single walk. He struck out eight batters and allowed just two fly-ball outs - the rest grounders. This was De La Rosa's first start as a member of the Sox, and therefore first at Fenway Park. He became the first pitcher to ever record eight strikeouts without walking a batter or allowing a run in his first start at Fenway Park, and the first Red Sox to do it regardless of the venue since Calvin Schiraldi in 1987.
At one point, De La Rosa retired 11 straight batters from the third inning to the seventh inning, and when James Loney broke up the streak with a single to left field, he got Desmond Jennings to ground into the inning-ending double play in the next at-bat.
That was his 105th and final pitch of the game, leaving with a 7-0 lead.
"He was outstanding," John Farrell said. "The biggest difference from a year ago to what we saw tonight was just an outstanding changeup. A number of swing and miss. Very good fastball, a lot of strikes, but the changeup was the separator for him tonight."
A.J. Pierzynski echoed what Farrell said.
"He was great, I mean obviously you guys saw the result but I mean anytime a guy can throw 98, 99 (MPH) and throw the changeup he was throwing along with the slider, it's going to be fun," Pierzynski said. "And he was throwing over the plate. He threw three pitches for strikes at any time. The way his ball moves, the way he's able to do that, heck he can be a real success if he can throw it over the plate like that every time."
De La Rosa has had a strong season in Pawtucket too. In 10 starts with the PawSox he has a 3.04 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, striking out 52 batters in 53.1 innings. In his last minor league start, he shut out Syracuse over 6.0 innings, allowing 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5, but did not factor into the decision.
"I think more than anything he continued what he's been doing in Pawtucket particularly over the last three starts," Farrell said. "He looked confident, he was poised, and a lot of good pitches. A lot of good stuff."
To make matters even more complicated for De La Rosa, he was making his first start in a series that already had plenty of emotion. Less than 24 hours prior, both benches had cleared and there was a little case of bean ball. Despite all that, De La Rosa zoned in.
"He showed four pitches for strikes," Farrell said, "which given the environment, given what we went through last night, he was outstanding."
"I feel good," De La Rosa said after the game. "I feel like everything is working."
De La Rosa also said that David Ortiz told him before the game not to worry about what happened in Friday's game, and instead to just focus on what he needs to do.
"It made me feel comfortable," De La Rosa said upon hearing that from Ortiz.
De La Rosa also said that what happened Friday night isn't part of the game.
"We are professional, we have to keep it professional," De La Rosa said.
And on Saturday night, he looked every bit professional.