Eovaldi made his first start as a member of the Rays, and his first Major League appearance since Aug. 10, 2016, as a Yankee against the Red Sox in Boston. Since that time, the hard-throwing right-hander has had Tommy John surgery, as well as another elbow procedure to clean up "loose bodies" this spring.
"It was pretty fun to watch him pitch for six innings," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "But we need him to pitch for the next couple of months for us. Healthy like that. He'll get built up going forward. But after that first inning, he was a lot of fun to watch. How he got the fastball going, the split going. … Really fun game until he had to come out."
Eovaldi, who also had Tommy John surgery in high school, looked strong throughout, and was still hitting 97 mph with his fastball in the fifth inning. Other than Chad Pinder, the A's did not hit too many balls hard against him. Pinder got robbed of hits in the third when Johnny Field made a sliding catch in center field, and in the sixth when Carlos Gomez made a diving catch in right.
"Felt like the first inning I was kind of all over the place, my timing wasn't that great," said Eovaldi, who threw 19 pitches in the first, including a four-pitch walk to the second batter, Matt Chapman. "Third and fourth inning I felt like I was finally getting the cutter and slider down. Fifth and sixth, everything else settled in."
Eovaldi hit 98 mph with his fastball, mixing in his slider and splitter. Pinder said Eovaldi was just the latest in a string of quality arms the Rays have sent against the A's.
"Hitting's hard enough as it is," Pinder said. "It is our job to do better and have a little more competitive at-bats. You've got to tip your cap sometimes. This game's hard, and those guys are doing a good job on the mound."
Cash made it clear to reporters before the game that Eovaldi wasn't completely stretched out, so there was little suspense in whether Eovaldi would be allowed to continue.
"I haven't gone seven innings in a really long time," Eovaldi said. "There was no way, [Cash] said, I was going to be able to go nine today, so why take the chance? We played it safe. … I understood the process, but I still would have liked to have gone back out there in the seventh inning, got my pitch count up a little higher."
Catcher Jesus Sucre said he felt bad that Eovaldi had a pitch count.
"If he didn't have that pitch count, I think he could have thrown a no-hitter," Sucre said. "Everything was really good."
Wilmer Font took over for Eovaldi to start the seventh and gave up a one-out single to Jed Lowrie to end the no-hit bid. Eovaldi's final line showed no runs on no hits and a walk while striking out four.
Leading the Rays' offense were Field, who had an RBI double and a solo home run, and Rob Refsnyder, who hit a three-run homer in the third that put the Rays up 4-0.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Refsnyder has not had a lot of playing opportunities this season, but he made the most of Wednesday night's start when he stepped to the plate in the third to face Sean Manaea with two aboard. The A's left-hander fell behind 3-1 and Refsnyder jumped on a 90-mph four-seamer and hit it over the wall in center field. Refsnyder's second home run of the season gave the Rays some separation, staking them to a 4-0 lead.
"He came up and [gave us a] really big boost, because their guy's been tough all year, and for him to find a way to get a big hit right there, big home run with guys on base, separated the game right there," Cash said. "I'm sure it gave Nate some breathing room."
FONT DEBUTS Tampa Bay acquired Font from Oakland on Friday. Ironically, his first appearance as a member of the Rays came against his former team, which had designated him for assignment on May 23. The right-hander, who entered the game with a 12.71 ERA, threw two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out one.
"He looked good," Cash said. "For a guy who hasn't pitched in 10 days, whatever it was. He looked really good. He got all of his offspeed pitches over, he threw strikes. ... Definitely looked the part. Get him rest and we'll get him back out there."
HE SAID IT "I'll just blame Kyle. I wanted to keep pitching him, but Kyle told me to pull him, so I'll go with that." -- Cash, who teased that pitching coach Kyle Snyder insisted on pulling Eovaldi
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY Christian Arroyo hit a slow dribbler to the left side with two outs in the seventh inning, but third baseman Chapman charged and threw on the run to get the Rays' second baseman, a call that would stand after a challenge by the Rays.
UP NEXT Ryne Stanek will make his second Major League start Thursday when he gets the nod against the A's in a 3:35 p.m. ET contest at the Coliseum, which will air on MLB.TV and MLB Network. Stanek has averaged 98.3 mph on his fastball this season, according to Statcast™, and his max velocity is 100.5 mph. Right-hander Daniel Mengden will start for the A's.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.