After a pair of lackluster starts from the Red Sox, the team will turn to Nathan Eovaldi when the American League Division Series returns to Boston for Game 3 on Sunday.
Eovaldi will be tasked with holding a Tampa Bay Rays offense that largely has proved relentless, shutting out the Red Sox 5-0 in Game 1 before forcing Chris Sale out of the game with a five-run first inning in Game 2.
So, how will Eovaldi approach the assignment?
“I’ve got a pretty good plan of attack,” he told reporters Saturday. “I feel like the first two games they’ve come out swinging, definitely. They’ve kind of set the tone right away. Once they get on the base paths they’re aggressive on the base paths. They’re gonna try to take advantage of everything, any little mishaps. Obviously gonna have to control the running game against these guys. I know I keep saying it, but just keep attacking them. Try not to let them have any predictable counts where they’re gonna be in control, and keep them out of the game as much as possible.”
Eovaldi has plenty of experience to lean on against the Rays in 2021. While he got rocked for five earned runs on six hits in a loss on July 31, his last two outings against the Rays were strong. In a 20-8 romp on Aug. 11, he struck out 10 batters and gave up one run on three hits through seven innings. On Sept. 8, he engineered seven scoreless innings, fanning eight and scattering three hits.
Game 3 presents a major turning point in the series, since the winner will have the opportunity to punch their ticket to the next round with a win in Game 4.
Eovaldi will put his plan into action Sunday at 4:07 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on MLB Network, but NESN will have pregame and postgame coverage.