Nathan Eovaldi has been stellar this season, but he picked a bad time for a clunker.
Friday was an uncharacteristically low performance for the Boston Red Sox starter, and he knows it.
“It’s frustrating,” Eovaldi said over Zoom after the game. “We know how important this game is tonight, we know where we stand in the hunt for the Wild Card and everything, and for the playoffs. I’ve got to be able to set the tone, especially in the first game of the series, and I didn’t do that tonight. It’s extremely frustrating to me.”
Eovaldi was knocked around by the Yankees from the get-go in the Red Sox’s 8-3 loss at Fenway Park on Friday night. Bad things came in sevens for the righty: seven runs allowed, all earned, on seven hits over just 2 2/3 innings. Perhaps most surprising was he didn’t get a single strikeout, while walking two.
“He didn’t have command of his pitches,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “They had, what, four hits with two strikes? So, he wasn’t able to put them away.”
“I felt like it was (not) putting guys away (that sank me),” Eovaldi said. “I didn’t really have a great feel on my curveball or splitter tonight. Early in the first inning I was sweating a lot, and the splitter kept slipping out.”
Perhaps this is just a “chalk it up as an aberration and throw the tape in the garbage” outing for Eovaldi. His second inning actually was decent, but things unraveled in the third to end his night.
The good news is this is a rare occurrence for Eovaldi, who only has given up seven runs one other time this season.
“It’s part of the game. The good ones, they have bad ones,” Cora said. “It’s one of those where you have to turn the page and be ready for the next one.”
Oh, and Eovaldi’s next start after giving up seven runs earlier this season? A one-run, three-hit, 10-strikeout outing against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees game:
— Kyle Schwarber showed his warts as a first baseman in the third inning.
Kyle Higashioka popped up in the infield just to the right of the mound. Hirokazu Sawamura stepped away to let his infielders take care of business, and the ball clearly was ticketed for Schwarber.
What exactly the problem was is unclear, but he allowed the ball to go over his head and drop right behind him. And since there were two outs in the inning at the time, Joey Gallo already was running home and scored.
There are going to be growing pains at first for Schwarber since he’s never played there before. By and large those have been mitigated, but Friday provided an example of what could go wrong.
— Sawamura might’ve saved the Red Sox bullpen this weekend.
One thing Eovaldi usually can be counted on for is going deep into the game and preserving the relievers. Him getting chased before the conclusion of the third obviously did not do much to help that cause, especially in the series opener.
“Sawamura did an amazing job,” Cora said.
The reliever pitched 2 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the year. He only had hit the two-inning mark twice this season, but the lion’s share of his outings have been one inning or less.
Although Sawamura allowed an inherited runner to score on the Schwarber gaffe, he had a good outing, giving up just three hits while not allowing a runner of his own to score.
Most importantly, he ate innings.
— Ultimately, the bullpen was a bright spot for the Red Sox.
Martín Pérez surrendered a homer to the first batter he faced, but otherwise delivered three solid innings, allowing just the one run on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
Matt Barnes, amid some struggles, got an opportunity in a low-leverage situation, pitching a clean six in which he allowed just one hit with a pair of punchouts with Boston down 7-0.
“Important, very important,” Cora said of the bullpen performance. “We stayed away from a lot of guys tonight and we’ll be ready for (Saturday).”
— The good news for the Red Sox — and Yankees, for that matter — is the Toronto Blue Jays lost 3-1 on Friday to the Minnesota Twins.
So, while the Red Sox only have a one-game lead on the Yankees for the top Wild Card spot, they are three games up on the Jays.