Nathan Eovaldi was just as electric as ever in his first career appearance in back-to-back games
Thanks to strong pitching and a three-run fifth capped by a two-out single from J.D. Martinez, the Red Sox beat the Dodgers, 4-2, in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night. David Price led the way, as the dominant Boston pitching staff held the Dodgers to just three hits.
One of the reasons the game felt like such a breeze was the work of new Red Sox swingman Nathan Eovaldi. The right-hander had only made eight relief appearances during his seven-year MLB career prior to the postseason, but manager Alex Cora has not hesitated to deploy Eovaldi's high-octane repertoire between starts this October.
Encouraged by Eovaldi's American League Championship Series bullpen outing that helped the Red Sox clinch the AL pennant, Cora called on him again in the eighth inning of World Series Game 1. He set down the side in order without much of a sweat.
The weather was six degrees colder at the start of World Series Game 2 and the margin of the game was tighter when Eovaldi took the mound again in the eighth inning. It was the first time that he had ever been asked to pitch in back-to-back ballgames.
The conditions were chilly, but Eovaldi was not at all perturbed. He proceeded to put on a superb relief pitching clinic -- powered mostly by pure heat. He struck out Cody Bellinger on a 99-mph challenge fastball:
On the next pitch, Eovaldi dialed it up to triple digits against Justin Turner, who had to take it for a called strike:
Eovaldi threw four fastballs in a row to Turner, who ended up putting a weak swing on a slider outside of the strike zone and grounding out.
The next batter was Joc Pederson, pinch-hitting for David Freese. After throwing a splitter for ball one, Eovaldi came back with two heaters in a row. Even though Pederson is a fastball hitter, the best he could manage was a weak fly ball to left:
Inning over and six up, six down in the World Series for Eovaldi.
Eovaldi's hybrid role might be new for him, but he's glad to be thriving on the big stage. "Anytime I can contribute, it's great to be a part of it," he said after the game to Ken Rosenthal. "As a starter, you've got to wait in between, and I always feel like I stay kind of fresh. I don't get too sore. So coming in last night and then tonight with the adrenaline, our crowd, the fans and stuff, I was feeling pretty good."
The resulting pitch chart from Game 2 looked more than "pretty good" -- it was filthy.
Eovaldi might start in Game 4, but he's been so good in relief that Cora hasn't ruled out using him in Game 3 on Friday.
"The way it's mapped out, it's Rick [Porcello] in Game 3 and maybe Nate Game 4," said Cora. "But Nate might come in in the eighth again. If we have a chance to be up 3-0 with him on the mound and Craig [Kimbrel], we'll do it. And then we'll figure out Game 4.
"That's the beauty of the playoffs. It's actually fun because you map out everything over 162 games and you give guys rest and take care of guys, but now it's like pedal to the metal. And whatever happens that day, we'll take it. He's been amazing for us."