The word “hero” gets thrown around way too loosely in sports. We’re not going to inundate you with platitudes about the military, but you know what we’re talking about.
Still, if anyone ever deserves to be called “heroic” for throwing a ball, it’s Nathan Eovaldi.
The Boston Red Sox right-hander pitched out of relief in Games 1 and 2 of the 2018 World Series and was scheduled to start Game 4 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. But with the Red Sox all-in on taking a 3-0 series lead in Friday night’s Game 3, Eovaldi was summoned in the 12th inning and responded by throwing 97 pitches over six dominant innings.
In a moment of true athletic injustice, Eovaldi eventually surrendered a game-winning home run in the 18th inning at Dodger Stadium, taking the loss in a game he deserved to win more than any other player. It was an astonishing effort for any pitcher, let alone one who has had two Tommy John surgeries.
The performance wowed anyone who sat through the 7-hour, 20-minute marathon, which was the longest game in Major League Baseball postseason history. And at least one person who had a front-row seat to Eovaldi’s gem was moved to tears.
“That was the most incredible pitching performance I’ve even seen,” Game 3 starter Rick Porcello said after the game, via WEEi’s Rob Bradford.
“I actually, after the game was over I started crying because that was — I mean, he’s grinding. Every pitch. He literally gave everything he had on every single pitch and it was special. It was a lot of fun to watch. That’s the epitome of reaching down deep and I don’t know. I’m really proud of him. I’m proud of the way our guys battled tonight. We came up one run short. So be it. We’ll be back tomorrow.”
Eovaldi’s performance was that good. So good, in fact, that he likely already wrapped up World Series MVP honors, should Boston go on to win the Fall Classic.
Alas, the 28-year-old’s effort was all for naught. And the Red Sox, who were one out away from taking a 3-0 series lead, now find themselves in a dogfight and without momentum for the first time since Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Still, Eovaldi will be remembered for turning in one of the greatest performances in playoff history — an effort that warranted all the tears and hyperbole it elicited.