Nathan Eovaldi pitched well Tuesday night against the Oakland Athletics, but the offense of the Boston Red Sox didn’t provide much help as the hosts were handed a 3-2 defeat at Fenway Park.
Still, it was a welcome sign for the right-hander who had struggled in two of his last three starts. Eovaldi held the A’s to just two hits and one earned run in six innings of work while striking out four.
It was a stark contrast from Eovaldi’s prior start when he allowed six runs on seven hits in just 4 1/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers. He had allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings against the Seattle Mariners the game before that.
This seemingly prompted Eovaldi to go back to the drawing board and put together a performance rivaling his best on the season. His three-hit, seven-inning start back in the first week of April probably still takes the cake, though.
“We’re constantly working between starts. I felt like I made the adjustments mechanically to really help my fastball out. I think that’s why I was able to rely on it a little bit more today and get the outs I needed,” Eovaldi said during a postgame video conference. “The cutter was really good today, as well, moving the ball up in the zone, then sinking it down and away. Splitters were good. Like I said, I mixed my off-speed enough to keep them off-balance.
“I think before I was kind of getting in a little bit more predictable counts and I think that’s why my outings weren’t as great the two prior, but tonight I felt I mixed my pitches really well and the fastball felt really good coming out.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora added, “Nate was solid. He was really good. He gave us six innings (and) did a good job using his fastball a little bit more. It was a good baseball game.”
It was the fourth time this season Eovaldi finished with six inning pitched.
Here are some other notes from Athletics-Red Sox:
— Darwinzon Hernandez’s struggles at Fenway Park continued in the seventh inning, and it led to Cora pulling Hernandez after just one out.
“It was a good pocket for him. He just didn’t get the job done,” Cora said on a postgame video conference. “A lead-off walk, had (Jed Lowrie) with two strikes, didn’t finish him off. … He was wild today. He wasn’t able to command a fastball, and he put himself in a tough spot.”
Hernandez allowed two runs on two hits and took the loss.
— Cora acknowledged how Boston still is searching for answers in the bullpen to complement Matt Barnes.
“We need to get the job done in those innings. Him (Hernandez), (Josh Taylor), they have to do a job,” Cora said. “I mean, we’re searching. You’ve seen it. Obviously, we do feel very comfortable with some of the guys back there. We still have yet to get these kids going. They’re very important. Stuff-wise, we know what they can do. We’ve seen it before, but we need them to be more consistent.”
— Hirokazu Sawamura was somewhat of a saving grace for the Boston bullpen as he took the mound for the eighth.
The right-hander then stayed out for the ninth with Boston trailing by one run. He allowed just two hits while throwing 22 of his 32 pitches for strikes.
“Sawamura was amazing, tonight,” Cora said. “Hopefully he can keep building off that.”
— The Red Sox offense mustered just four hits for a second consecutive game. Yet Cora doesn’t seem overly worried with this and credited good pitching both nights.
“Those two guys the last two days were really good. You’re going to run into this,” Cora said. “We’re going to go through stretches. We had the tying run at third, the winning run at first. In a night we didn’t do too much offensively, we’ll take it and get ready for tomorrow.”
— The Red Sox will return to Fenway on Wednesday to host the Athletics with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. ET on NESN.