Without best stuff, Eovaldi guts out return to Fenway

July 7th, 2023

BOSTON -- Now pitching with his sixth Major League club, has been around the block. But on Thursday night, he returned to the one place where he won a World Series and spent the longest time in his career.

While the excitement was evident throughout the ballpark, the results did not go his way, as the Rangers fell to the Red Sox, 10-6, at Fenway Park.

The Texas starter struggled compared to what he has been doing for most of the year, tying a season high with four walks while giving up four runs and five hits over 5 1/3 innings of work. Despite the numbers, in typical Eovaldi fashion, he left with his team in a position to win.

“Nate probably didn’t have his best stuff, but it shows you something about Nate,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “For him to go out there and battle the way he did, he left that game with a two-run lead; we just couldn’t hold it for him. He did really well, I thought, despite not having his best control and stuff. We have to hold that game. We had some bad luck. It’s hard to have worse luck than we had.”

“I felt fine physically,” noted Eovaldi postgame. “I felt like I was trying to do too much. I felt like I was rushing with my mechanics a little bit. The biggest thing that hurt were all the leadoff walks. I felt every time I had a leadoff walk, they were able to score.”

Boston was able to convert two leadoff walks into runs, but Eovaldi picked things up in the fourth and fifth. He allowed a double in the fourth, but held Boston scoreless, throwing 16 pitches. He was even better in the fifth, retiring the side on only seven pitches.

With a quick inning on defense, the offense responded by adding two more runs in the top of the fifth, giving the Rangers a 5-3 lead. Though Eovaldi felt his mechanics were off on the day, he was still in line for his 11th win when he departed in the sixth.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence of me having the quick inning in the fourth to get the guys back in the dugout, and they were able to answer back and score two more,” Eovaldi said.

The Rangers maintained a 5-4 lead heading into the seventh inning, but Boston opened the floodgates, sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring six runs in the frame. 

“The big inning kills you,” Bochy said. “They just chopped it, hit the blooper to left field. You look back at that inning and you’re talking about buzzard luck. We had it.”

Eovaldi spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Red Sox, earning hero status on the field, most notably for his performance in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series, in which he allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings after pitching in relief in each of the first two games. He was likewise well-known off the field, where his philanthropic efforts were extensive.

When he was announced prior to the start of the game, the Fenway crowd greeted his name with a hearty ovation. Fans were even louder when he exited the game in the sixth inning.

“He wasn't afraid of the noise or afraid of the expectations,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He took it, you know, and he ran with it. Even last year, when he was banged up, he wanted to contribute.”

The Rangers are grateful to have him continue to contribute to their side instead.