But Eovaldi lasted just 36 pitches and two outs, leaving the mound to a chorus of boos in a 12-2 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday night.
Eovaldi surrendered eight runs on nine hits. His former ballclub set a franchise record for runs in the first inning. He reached 99 mph on the radar gun several times, but location proved to be the problem.
"It's frustrating," said Eovaldi (5-2, 5.12 ERA). "Going out there and -- like I said -- I've been looking forward to this start. And going out there and not making it through an inning is extremely frustrating and hurts the team."
His previous low for innings in a start came on Aug. 2, 2012, in his second appearance for the Marlins following the Hanley Ramirez trade with the Dodgers. Then, he gave up six runs on eight hits over two frames at Turner Field against the Braves.
Remarkably enough, Eovaldi retired Dee Gordon, the leadoff batter, on Tuesday. But Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton reached on consecutive infield singles to spark a stretch of seven straight hits. All went for singles except for Adeiny Hechavarria's two-run triple in the eighth spot.
The 25-year-old righty induced a groundout to short off the bat of David Phelps, also part of that offseason trade, before Gordon and Derek Dietrich drove in a run apiece to chase Eovaldi.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't see a nervous pitcher on the mound. He seemed "like the same warmup, same guy, same personality." Miami produced three hits each off Eovaldi's fastball, splitter and slider.
"It started off as some soft contact and it looked like it could've been a runner on second and two outs," Girardi said. "[Didi Gregorius] kind of fumbled [the Yelich single], and after that they hit the ball hard. [Eovaldi] was up, fastball was finding the middle, and his split was up. That's a bad combination."
Entering Tuesday, Eovaldi had posted a 2-0 record and 3.00 ERA in his past four starts. In nine of his 12 games, he had allowed three earned runs or fewer. He has four quality starts this season, including six days ago against the Nationals.
Asked about the inconsistency, Eovaldi couldn't pinpoint why it occurs. As for facing former teammates who watched him pitch every five days for nearly three years?
"No different approach, just go out there and attack," Eovaldi said. "I felt like I attacked for the most part. It was just leaving my secondary pitches up in the zone. In those key counts where I can bury a pitch or make a good one, I left it over the middle or up, and I got hurt."
Added Girardi: "I think it's a young starter still developing secondary pitches, still finding out exactly in a sense what type of a pitcher is he. He knows he's got a great fastball, but he has to use his secondary stuff. His split has been working really well and he's thrown well lately, but tonight it was up. It was not effective."