Nathan Eovaldi came out and gave the Boston Red Sox exactly what they needed Monday — a solid start.
One that allowed the Red Sox to use just three arms in their 2-1 walk-off win over the Toronto Blue Jays, splitting the series and putting an end to a brutal stretch from the starting rotation.
Boston hadn’t seen a quality outing since Eovaldi’s on June 4 against the Yankees, and two times through the struggling rotation exasperated the bullpen. But in the fourth and final game against Toronto, despite little-to-no run support until a ninth-inning rally, the right-hander leaves his performance hopeful it can build some momentum.
“For me, whenever we get on a good streak, it starts with good pitching,” Eovaldi said after the win. “If you look back to the previous ones, all of the starters, we were all rolling together. I think it takes one starter to go out there and do a great job, and it kind of resets everybody. Everybody gets that breather. We didn’t have to really use that many guys tonight, which was big. Our defense was awesome. It was a close ballgame all the way to the last out. I feel like that brings us together as a team, and tonight I was able to provide that for us.”
Eovaldi didn’t earn the win, remaining at 7-3, but his ERA dropped from a 4.11 to 3.76 after the outing.
He was close, though, after reliever Josh Taylor got him out of a jam in the seventh only to see Matt Barnes give up a game-tying homer to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. while striking out three other batters in the ninth.
“J.T. came in there and threw the ball great and Barnes came in. Unfortunately he gave up that home run, but we were able to get the win and I’m going to bet on him every time out there that he’s going to be able to come in a slam the door,” Eovaldi said.
Good thing for that walk-off from Rafael Devers, though.
“Devers again. (Alex Verdugo) led it off with a single and J.D. (Martinez) was able to move him, runners at first and second and Devers was able to drive it off the wall, so I felt like right there, we didn’t have very many scoring opportunities but we were able to come through when we needed it the most and we were able to come out on top right there.”
Here are other notes from Boston’s win over Toronto:
— You’ve got to feel good about Rafael Devers approaching the plate with two runners on and no outs. Apparently, everyone in the Red Sox dugout did ahead of his game-winning single.
“He’s done it before,” Cora said. “So in the dugout, you can feel that. Okay, you know, he’s coming in, let’s try and get a hit here.”
— Matt Barnes came in to close out the ninth, but after striking out two straight batters, Boston was one out away from the win.
Until Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a game-tying home run.
Despite the Blue Jays’ slugger being the hottest hitter in Major League Baseball, Cora never once considered walking him to put the tying runner on base and the go-ahead run at the plate.
“No, no chance,” Cora said. “No chance. … He’s a good hitter. We just didn’t execute one pitch and he hit it out of the ballpark. I didn’t even think about that, but he is that good.”
— It might not feel like Boston split the four-game set against Toronto, but despite a substantial run differential (31-14) in the series, they did.
“The run differential in this series is going to be negative-whatever, but we earned the split,” Cora said. “So they didn’t gain ground on us. We didn’t lose ground on them, and now we go to Atlanta.”
— Boston hits the road for a two-game series against the Atlanta Braves before three-game sets against the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays.
First pitch against the Braves on Tuesday is at 7:20 p.m. ET on NESN.