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Eovaldi brushes past minor hiccup in return

@IanMBrowne
September 13, 2020

Nathan Eovaldi took the mound on 22 days of rest on Saturday night at Tropicana Field, and you could only wonder if the rust had hurt him when he opened the outing by serving up a leadoff homer to Austin Meadows. The flame-throwing righty -- who had been sidelined by

Nathan Eovaldi took the mound on 22 days of rest on Saturday night at Tropicana Field, and you could only wonder if the rust had hurt him when he opened the outing by serving up a leadoff homer to Austin Meadows.

The flame-throwing righty -- who had been sidelined by a right calf strain -- swiftly proved rust was no issue. In fact, he looked downright refreshed while overpowering the Rays for the rest of his abbreviated start.

Box score

Over three innings, Eovaldi gave up three hits and one run while walking none and striking out four as the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 5-4.

“It definitely felt really good to be back out there,” said Eovaldi. “That first inning I was a little fired up, timing was a little off with everything. Took me a little bit to settle down, but once I did I felt really good.”

With 13 games left in the season, Eovaldi will likely make two or three more starts. And it’s important he build some momentum going into 2021.

Signed for two more years, Eovaldi is an important piece to the starting rotation going forward. This season, he’s been left to anchor a rotation that didn’t get a single pitch from Chris Sale or Eduardo Rodriguez.

That made it even more frustrating for Eovaldi to have to miss three weeks himself due to a nagging injury.

In the past, ailments to his arm kept Eovaldi out for much longer than three weeks.

“None of us plan on being injured. It’s definitely something I’ve struggled with in the past,” said Eovaldi. “I’ve tried to change my diet, I’ve tried to not work out as much, work out more, try to work with things. This is the first time I’ve had a calf injury.

“It’s frustrating. I was just playing catch. I felt it grab. I thought I was doing the right thing by saying I felt it grab and thought it would only be a day or two and it turns out to be two or three weeks. I definitely want to be that guy that the team relies upon, to go out and take the ball and the team has a good chance to win the ballgame.”

The good thing about this season is that Eovaldi should go home with his arm feeling powerful and durable. Eovaldi threw a dozen four-seam fastballs on Saturday, maxing out at 99.6 mph and averaging 98.5.

In 2021, the Red Sox will look for Eovaldi to be a key piece to their pitching puzzle.

“Well, you’re right, we were dependent on him, and the reason we were so dependent upon him was once Chris went down and once Eddie went down,” said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “But if we’ve got Eddie back next year, we’ll see what we’re going to do with the other part of the rotation. Chris, whenever he folds back in next year. Then it’s not going to be all on Nate.”

Mixed bag for Chavis
Saturday looked like it was going to be a good night in what has been a tough sophomore season for Michael Chavis. The first baseman ended a 77 at-bat homerless streak by belting a solo shot to center in the third.

Earlier in the game, he made a brilliant stab at first to take a hit away from Nate Lowe.

But the bad overshadowed the good in the fifth when Chavis got doubled off second base on a popup by Alex Verdugo.

“Yeah, he forgot the outs,” said Roenicke. “It happens. He knows it and feels bad about it. But other than that, it happens at times. You need to concentrate all the time and sometimes you lapse. But he knows.”

Running Red Sox
The Red Sox were all over the place on the bases in Saturday’s loss, recording six steals. It was their highest total since Aug. 9, 2010, when they stole six at Yankee Stadium.

Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. stole two each while Alex Verdugo and Chavis each had one steal.

All six steals came off Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, who got the win.

“Yes, we know he’s got great stuff. To try to disrupt some pitchers somehow, you try to pick something that you can maybe take advantage of, and we did, but he still threw the ball pretty good,” said Roenicke. “I just think we haven’t run this year. I’ve been wanting to run, and I don’t know why we’re a little more hesitant this year, and last year we were, too.

"We don’t have any true 50-bases-a-year basestealers, but we have some guys that run, and I think we need to take advantage of some guys that have higher leg kicks when we can.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.