Vazquez, De La Rosa lean on each other vs. White Sox

Vazquez, De La Rosa lean on each other vs. White Sox
July 10, 2014, 12:45 am
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BOSTON -- It was just like they were back in Pawtucket. Only the crowd was bigger. And the hitters were better. And the stakes were higher.

OK so it wasn't much like Pawtucket at all. But two Red Sox rookies who had been Triple-A players 24 hours before -- pitcher Rubby De La Rosa and catcher Christian Vazquez -- had each other to lean on Wednesday night in Boston's 5-4 walk-off win over the White Sox.

For Vazquez it was his Major League debut after getting the call to fill in the roster spot vacated by AJ Pierzynski, who had been designated for assignment earlier in the day.

"It helped me a lot" to catch De La Rosa, Vazquez said. "[I've had] a lot of experience with him and a lot of confidence in him."

De La Rosa, who was making his sixth big-league start of the season but his first since June 21, likewise appreciated having a familiar battery-mate.

"That did help a little bit," De La Rosa said. "I feel more comfortable because he knows me so he knows all my pitches."

De La Rosa's stuff was electric at times in Wednesday's start, featuring a fastball that reached up to 97 mph.

He left a changeup up to Jose Abreu in the first inning and did the same with a fastball to Conor Gillaspie in the second -- both resulting in solo homers to dead-center -- but otherwise he pitched a serviceable five innings, allowing three runs.

"I thought he and Christian mixed very well," Farrell said. "They had a good game plan and a good report. Similar to what we've seen. We'd like to see [De La Rosa] go deeper and that'll be the case as he gets on a regular turn."

Farrell explained that the reason De La Rosa was held to five innings and 84 pitches was because he pitched one inning in a scheduled start for Pawtucket on Sunday. He served as a spot starter on Wednesday, but he could maintain a regular place in the Red Sox rotation if there is a move made with Jake Peavy, which could be coming soon.

Vazquez's night wasn't through when De La Rosa was pulled before the start of the sixth inning. He went on to catch four relievers -- Craig Breslow, Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara -- and had to quickly familiarize himself with each.

Though he was teammates of theirs during spring training, he needed a refresher course with those players he hadn't seen in about four months. He met with Tazawa on the mound before the start of the eighth inning just to go over basic things like signs and what pitches Tazawa would be throwing.

Vazquez said he also had help from Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves in between innings.

The 23-year-old went 0-for-3 at the plate and admitted he was nervous, but he handled himself and his pitchers well while behind the plate. That's just what he's expected to do in his early big-league experience -- "Just take care of the defensive responsibilities first and let the offense evolve," general manager Ben Cherington said Wednesday -- so by those standards, he could consider game No. 1 a success. 

"It's a day of a lot of emotion," Vazquez said. "A good win for us. I'm excited to be here."