The day ended with the same type of emotion.
Rodriguez won in his return from heart inflammation that caused him to miss the 2020 season, allowing three runs over five innings Thursday to lead the Red Sox over Baltimore 7-3 in the Orioles‘ home opener.
“It was a special day,” Rodríguez said. “I went out there in the first inning and it was like my first time in the big leagues. I was almost too excited in the first inning. But I settled down. These guys made plays to win the game and that’s what we’re here for.”
Rafael Devers and Enrique Hernandez homered for the Red Sox, who have won four consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 14-18, 2019. Boston has scored 33 runs in the four wins after managing five while getting swept by the Orioles in a three-game series at Fenway Park.
A day after his 28th birthday, Rodriguez made his first big league appearance since Sept. 29, 2019, against the Orioles at Fenway Park.
He started last season on the injured list, and the Red Sox announced Aug. 1 that Rodriguez was going to miss the entire pandemic-shortened season because of myocarditis related to COVID-19. At the time, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said he was optimistic Rodriguez would pitch in 2021.
“When they told me that I had myocarditis, my first question was how long is this going to take and if I was going to be able to go back and be normal,” Rodríguez said. “They told me it was going to be fine. After that, I was able to take care of it and get back here today.”
Rodriguez started this season on the injured list after experiencing a dead arm during spring training.
Rodriguez (1-0) gave up four hits, including two-run homers by Ryan Mountcastle in the first and Pedro Severino in the fourth — the first home runs allowed by Boston this season. Rodriguez struck out seven and walked none, throwing at up to 94.7 mph.
“I think today’s story is not about hitting or defense — it’s about Eduardo,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “For him to compete out there and give us five strong innings, that was very gratifying for the organization, for each individual here. For him to perform that way is a testament to where he’s at right now in his career, who he is as a person. I know it’s a big day for him.”
Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz was hit on the left elbow by Rodriguez in the fourth, but plate umpire Jeremie Rehak ruled he swung at the pitch. Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde angrily emerged from the dugout to protest the call and was ejected.
That was the quickest ejection I’ve ever had,” said Hyde, who has been ejected six times in his career, five as a manager. “I was very surprised by it. Leave it at that.”
Matt Harvey (0-1), who didn’t get a decision in his Orioles debut last week at Fenway Park, allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings with five strikeouts and a walk.
Boston took a 4-3 lead in the sixth on an RBI groundout by Christian Arroyo and a run-scoring single by Franchy Cordero off Paul Fry, who was pitching for the second straight day and third time in four games.
However, this day belonged to Rodriguez, and his teammates were excited to have him back.
“It was a special day for us,” catcher Christian Vazquez said. “It was a tough year for him last year. We’re happy to see him back. If we have him healthy this year, we’re going to be in a good place.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.