Eduardo Rodriguez's rookie season has included some terrible starts, but the form he's shown in his previous four offers the most convincing evidence he's growing out of it.
The 22-year-old has a shot to accomplish in 19 starts what it took veteran Wade Miley 25 and Joe Kelly 24 to do - reach 10 wins - in Monday night's series opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Rodriguez (9-5, 4.05 ERA), acquired from Baltimore at last season's deadline for Andrew Miller, gave up a run and eight hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings of a 6-2 home win over Philadelphia on Sept. 6, moving the left-hander to 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in his last four outings with four walks over 26 innings.
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"We can go back to May and June, he would have a bump in the road and give up five runs and come out of the game," interim manager Torey Lovullo told MLB's official website. "That hasn't happened in a long time. That's maturity."
One of those blowups came during an 8-6 home loss to the Orioles on June 25 in which he gave up six runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings. He's 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA in two starts in the series, with J.J. Hardy going 2 for 4 and Matt Wieters 2 for 5 with a homer.
Rodriguez has also given up 17 runs in 13 2-3 innings over three straight road losses.
The Red Sox (68-74) have a shot at dragging Baltimore (69-73) back into a tie in the AL East cellar, and the same goes for Tampa Bay as it begins a series with the New York Yankees.
Boston won the last two of a three-game series in Tampa over the weekend, including Sunday's 2-0 victory to get within a victory of moving five games under .500 for the first time since entering the All-Star break at 42-47.
Mookie Betts was 3 for 6, extending his career-best hitting streak to 18 games. He's batting .395 during the club's longest streak since Jacoby Ellsbury's 19-game run in 2013.
Baltimore, which has won seven of eight over Boston with five straight at home, seems to again have it together at Camden with three wins in four games after a six-game losing streak. The Orioles took two of three over the weekend against Kansas City, and Sunday's 8-2 win gave them 28 runs with a .327 average in the series.
Chris Davis hit his MLB-leading 42nd home run and is batting .444 with seven homers and 14 RBIs in 11 games this month. Adam Jones is 4 for 8 with two home runs and seven RBIs in his last two, and he says the Orioles still have the playoffs in mind despite sitting six games out of the second wild-card spot with four teams to catch.
"We're not mathematically eliminated, so there's still something to play for," Jones said.
Kevin Gausman is 0-4 with a 4.99 ERA in seven starts since last winning Aug. 1, though he wasn't bad in Tuesday's 2-1 win at the Yankees. The right-hander gave up a run and six hits in five innings to go without a decision for the third time in four starts.
Gausman (2-6, 4.43) hasn't faced Boston as a starter this season, but he's 1-0 with a 2.66 ERA in three career starts and five relief efforts. David Ortiz is 4 for 8 with two home runs against him, and Ryan Hanigan is 2 for 5 with a homer.