BOSTON -- Last week at Camden Yards, Rubby De La Rosa seemed disinterested in throwing his fastball early in his start, a curious stance for someone who can throw that pitch up to 97 mph.
Instead, De La Rosa relief mostly on his changeup and slider and paid for that decision, with the Orioles scoring four runs in his first four innings.
Manager John Farrell said then that he hoped De La Rosa had learned an important lesson about pitch usage. Back home at Fenway Monday night, it was obvious that De La Rosa had.
After struggling with his command in first inning -- walking two of the first three hitters he faced -- De La Rosa settled in and pitched seven shutout innings in a 1-0 victory for the Red Sox over the Minnesota Twins.
De La Rosa finished by retiring the final 13 batters he faced and 18 of his last 20.
"Rubby got into a much better rhythm from the second inning on,'' said Farrell. "The adjustment tonight vs. five days ago was really just to establish his fastball, which he did, and he seemingly had better command the more he threw it and settled into to give us seven very good innings.''
"I switched it up a little bit and tried to use my fastball more,'' confirmed De La Rosa. "I was more consistent with my pitches.''
Perhaps it has something to do with pitching at Fenway. In two starts on the road, De La Rosa is 0-2 with 16 hits allowed in 11 1/3 innings and an ERA of 6.35. At home, De La Rosa is 2-0 and has allowed just five hits in 14 scoreless innings.
"It's two starts and two starts on the road,'' shrugged Farrell. "I know it's been 14 shutout innings at Fenway. Whether or not he feels the energy at our ballpark or is more comfortable on our mound -- that's clearly the case. But when a guy possesses that type of arm and that kind of repertoire, as long as he throws strikes, he's going to have the ability to attack the best hitters in the game.''
Throwing strikes was an issue in the first, after De La Rosa allowed walks to Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer. But he got a double play out of Josh Willingham to end the threat.
In the third, he yielded a one-out walk to Sam Fuld, the No. 9 hitter and a stolen base gave the Twins a runner in scoring position with one out.
But a single by Danny Santana resulted in Fuld getting trapped between third and home, and while Santana moved up to third during the rundown, De La Rosa wiggled out of trouble when he got Dozier to ground out to second.
The Twins didn't get another baserunner against him over the next four full innings.
Despite two scoreless starts in four outings, , De La Rosa can't necessarily claim a more permanent spot in the rotation as both Felix Doubront and Clay Buchholz inch closer to returning to the big league club.
"The fact is, we've got two other really good pitchers that are close to returning to us,'' said Farrell. "So there's going to be ongoing discussions.''
Asked about the prospect of returning to the minors, De La Rosa smiled and ruefully and said: "I don't even want to think about that.''
With another start or two like Monday night's, he won't have to worry.