Eovaldi -- Alvin, Texas' other star -- tosses 1st shutout

April 30th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- It sounded a little familiar: a complete game by a Rangers pitcher from Alvin, Texas. 

But Nolan Ryan didn’t walk onto the mound at Globe Life Field on Saturday night to throw his seventh shutout as a Ranger. Instead,  -- the only other big leaguer to come out of Alvin High School -- tossed his first career shutout in Texas’ 2-0 win over the Yankees.

“It means a lot to me,” Eovaldi said postgame. “I think it's just being able to use all my pitches at all time. … I had a pretty good feel of the ball in the bullpen. I was able to settle down there, and then at the beginning of the game, I think we just stuck to our game plan and attacking on the inside. I’ve faced these guys a lot. I know that they're aggressive. We wanted to make sure that we established the inside part of the plate early tonight. Once we were able to do that, we were able to kind of mix in the splitters and try to get some quick outs.”

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said Eovladi was locked in from the beginning. He struck out eight while walking none as the Yankees mustered just three hits against him, two of which didn’t leave the infield. Eovaldi lowered his ERA from 5.20 to 3.93. 

“It’s fun to watch it when elite pitchers like that get locked in,” Bochy said. “Nate just did a terrific job. You appreciate the stuff, the command, throwing four pitches at any time. I've said this -- I appreciate it, too, as a fan. It was just a fun game for me to watch.”

Bochy said he didn’t even have to think about sending Eovaldi back out for the eighth and ninth innings as the pitch count creeped into the 90s, then hit triple digits. As long as the stuff looked the same and the velocity stayed up, Bochy wanted to let his starter go the distance. 

“You can talk about pitch count and those things, but you look at the effort they put into it, they weren’t stressful innings,” Bochy said. “The stuff was still the same, so there was no doubt that he was going back out there.” 

It was the first nine-inning shutout of Eovaldi’s career, but his second complete game. The first was on May 28, 2022, as a member of the Red Sox as Boston beat Baltimore, 5-3

It was also the Rangers’ first complete game since Martín Pérez did it on May 21, 2022, against the Astros in Houston.

Jonah Heim, who also caught Pérez’s shutout last season, said these are the kind of games you strive for as a catcher, beaten only by no-hitters and perfect games.

“It’s easy on me [when he’s locked in like that],” Heim said. “Anything I put down, he executed, so that makes my life easy. He was cruising. … I haven't really caught him since Spring Training, so I just talked to him a little bit, asked him what felt good. And apparently everything felt good, so it was easy.”

Eovaldi threw 113 pitches, by far the most by a Rangers pitcher in 2023 and the most the right-hander has thrown in an outing since July 24, 2016, when he threw 118 for the Yankees.

Eovaldi has consistently performed well against his former club, where he pitched from 2015-16. Entering Saturday’s game, he had gone 3-4 but with a 3.83 ERA over 18 career starts against the Yankees.

“Classic Nate when he’s really on top of it,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “He kind of bullied us. He used both sides of the plate, was a little bit unpredictable between slowing us down a little bit with the curveball, but obviously, the cutter and the split. And stuff-wise, he was throwing hard. Watching the start to his season, it looks like he’s been throwing the ball really well. That’s one of those sharp ones. We’ve seen him like that before, where we’ve had a little bit of success from time to time. But he’s had a lot of really, really good performances against us, and I would put that one up there.”

The complete game almost meant even more on the heels of ace Jacob deGrom hitting the injured list earlier in the day.

“We've already hit a couple bumps with injuries, and you hate to see it. But when you get an effort like we got tonight from Nate, it does set a tone,” Bochy said. “We just gotta keep moving, and he'll be back, Jacob, but meanwhile, we have to pitch well.”