Three things we learned about the Red Sox Saturday night

Three things we learned about the Red Sox Saturday night
July 20, 2014, 1:15 am
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BOSTON -- Three things we learned from the Red Sox's 2-1 victory over the Royals . . . 

1. Rubby De La Rosa is a big-league pitcher. 

He's shown what he's capable of as a starter at the Major League level, dominating at hitter-friendly Fenway Park to the tune of four earned runs over 26.0 innings in four starts for a 1.38 ERA this season. Those are statistics that would seem to suggest his days riding I-95 from Pawtucket to Boston and back could be behind him permanently. 

Even more important than his numbers, though, is how he's handled tight situations. He stranded seven Royals runners on Saturday -- including four in scoring position -- and limited Kansas City's aggressive offense in what was eventually a one-run win. Each of his last four starts, in fact, have been one-run games and the Red Sox have won three. 

De La Rosa has a dynamic arm that is improving from the stretch, and while he's thrown strictly as a starter this season, his stuff would be even more over-powering in one-inning situations. 

Might that mean he could eventually land in the pen with a wealth of young starting pitching behind him in the Sox system? Or will the organization find more value in keeping him as a starter?

Whatever the future holds for De La Rosa, his outings this season have proven that he belongs at this level.

2. Andrew Miller continues to be one of the best relievers in the American League. 

Facing the heart of the Royals order in the eighth inning of a one-run game, Miller sat down Eric Hosmer (who has a 15-game hitting streak), and All-Stars Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon in order. 

Since the calendar flipped to June, Miller has been as dominant as ever, allowing seven hits and two earned runs in 13.0 innings and 17 appearances. In that time, opposing hitters are hitting .159 against him and he's allowed just two of 12 inherited runners to score.

"He's got strikeout ability and that's what allows him to shut down innings," John Farrell said before Saturday's game. "He's a closer in a certain sense in the seventh, eighth or whatever inning you call upon him with men in scoring position. The swing-and-miss ability is what allows him to be that type of pitcher."

3. Jonny Gomes giveth and Jonny Gomes taketh away.

One night after being the hero with a go-ahead home run to beat the Royals, the Red Sox left fielder made a couple of gaffes defensively that didn't cost his team -- but very easily could have.

In the fourth inning, he and Brock Holt ran into each other on a shallow fly to left. The ball hit Gomes' glove and squirted out allowing Mike Moustakas to reach second with two outs. In that situation, the ball should be the left fielder's, Farrell explained after the game. But crossed signals between Gomes and Holt -- who was making his third start of the season at shortstop -- put De La Rosa in a jam from which he had to wriggle free. (Which he did by striking out Nori Aoki.)

In the fifth, Omar Infante hit another shallow fly to left. This time, Holt cleared out of the way to give Gomes plenty of room. Not knowing if Holt would be camping under it, though, Gomes didn't aggressively pursue the ball and it dropped for a double with two outs. Again, De La Rosa had to escape from another bind. (Which he did by striking out Hosmer.)

No harm, not foul. But a lesson learned to be sure.