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Eovaldi focused in winning first Fenway start

BOSTON -- This is usually not a comfortable place for a visiting pitcher to warm up in the bullpen, especially one wearing a road-gray Yankees uniform, but Nathan Eovaldi seemed to handle his first start at Fenway Park just fine on Saturday.

Eovaldi walked away satisfied with his outing, holding the Red Sox to two runs and seven hits over 6 2/3 innings of the Yankees' 4-2 win. Boston's potent lineup was held in check for the most part, and Eovaldi also didn't seem rattled by the rivalry crowd.

"I didn't think they were that bad today," Eovaldi said. "When we were at home with the Mets, they were a lot worse. I was like, 'Wow, we're at home!' New York-New York."

It was an encouraging effort for the Yankees, who have big dreams about what Eovaldi could mean to their pitching staff in the years to come. Eovaldi said that he has been working with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on not rushing his delivery, and catcher Brian McCann said he liked the number of quality strikes that he saw.

"I thought he pitched in extremely well," McCann said. "When he pitches in, they have to cheat to that. Once they start cheating, they have to start expanding. He pitched to both sides of the plate effectively, and had them off balance. ... I think he's getting better and better, I really do."

Eovaldi threw a season-high 111 pitches, and though he would have liked to have gone deeper in the game and he did generate just two strikeouts, he was able to limit the damage with runners on base. Dustin Pedroia's long homer to left on a hanging slider was Boston's biggest blow off the right-hander.

"Pretty much every lineup here in the American League is tough," Eovaldi said. "You have to stay focused and attack every outing. You can't really fall behind too much. Pedroia, second at-bat, I threw one slider in the dirt and then I tried to throw a slider for a strike, and he crushed it. You have to be able to locate every time."

The Yankees would happily sign up for a few more starts like this one, considering Masahiro Tanaka will miss at least the next month due to injury. Eovaldi said that he does not feel any additional pressure to step up in Tanaka's absence.

"Everybody has been throwing the ball real well," Eovaldi said. "It's definitely a big blow having Tanaka out, especially as long as he's going to be out. But everybody has been throwing the ball well, the bullpen has been good, and we've been hitting. We've been playing good baseball, so just keep doing your part."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
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