The dog days of summer are here, but Baltimore prospect Eduardo Rodriguez isn't letting late-season fatigue or the everyday grind slow him down.
"Down," incidentally, is a word Rodriguez likes. A lot. When his pitches are down, he knows he's virtually untouchable. Encouraged by his success attacking the lower third of the zone, the No. 3 Orioles prospect is finishing up with a flourish.
Rodriguez allowed two hits over eight innings as the Double-A Bowie Baysox routed the visiting Binghamton Mets, 11-0, on Monday.
"It was pretty good man, really good," said Rodriguez. "I controlled my pitches -- my fastball, my slider, everything down, down. I used my fastball a lot down, down, and my slider inside.
"I used my fastball, but I also used my slider and changeup. I used the slider like 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, I can use it every time. I used it as an inside and a backdoor slider. And I used the changeup when I wanted a ground ball or a fly ball, 1-1, 1-2, 0-2, or when I wanted a double play."
The 20-year-old faced the minimum through the first two innings, utilizing a double-play ball to erase Allan Dykstra, whom he hit with a pitch to start the second.
He allowed a single to Xorge Carrillo in the third before setting down the next 13 B-Mets he faced. Josh Rodriguez singled to left field with one out in the seventh to give Binghamton just its third baserunner of the evening, but the left-hander retired the final eight batters to escape unharmed.
The outing lowered his Eastern League ERA from 5.52 to 4.70. In 14 Carolina League starts with Class A Advanced Frederick prior to his promotion, he was 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA.
"He was sensational," Bowie manager Gary Kendall said. "I usually stick to words like average or above average, but the last three starts he has been lights-out. It's encouraging that he is in our dugout because down the road he is going to be a big plus for this organization."
After some disappointing performances earlier this summer, the native of Valencia, Venezuela appears to be turning a corner down the stretch.
Rodriguez gave up 16 runs over three games in late July and early August against Erie (once) and Portland (twice), failing to make it through five innings each time. Since then, he spun five scoreless innings at home to the SeaWolves and six one-run frames on the road in Binghamton six days ago.
"I think I've had a good year. This is my best year," said Rodriguez, signed by the Orioles as a non-drafted free agent in 2010. "The last one was good, but this is amazing. I have just been working hard in my bullpens.
"I think this was my best start. My fastball was down every time. The fastball, changeup, slider, down, down, every time. That is the difference. Last time, the fastball was up, the slider up, everything up. Home runs, doubles, triples, up. Today, down, down."
Initially billed as a pitching duel with top Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard, it became evident early that one prospect was significantly outperforming the other.
Syndergaard yielded four runs in each of the first two innings and three more in the third. His final line read 11 runs -- nine earned -- on nine hits and two walks while striking out five batters over three innings.
"He's pretty good. He throws like 100 mph, right? I said, 'Let's go and play, let's have a good game tonight.' It didn't matter [who I was pitching against]," said Rodriguez, who will make one more start this year -- against Erie again Saturday. "The guy is a little bit scary, but we don't care about that."