Having already dropped their first series in over a month with a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night, the Red Sox closed out their season series against a red-hot Rays team at Tropicana Field by getting swept for the first time this season.
Getting the starting nod in this one was a former Ray himself in RHP Nathan Eovaldi, who made 10 starts with the club before being traded to Boston on July 25th.
Since he started his Red Sox career by twirling two consecutive gems against the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, Eovaldi has been struggling to maintain that same form over the past few weeks, and that was evident once again on Sunday.
Pitching just four innings against his former team, the right-hander surrendered six runs, five of which were earned, on eight hits to go along with zero walks and five strikeouts on the afternoon.
Before he even had the chance to settle in, Tampa Bay had already pushed across their first of nine runs thanks to three straight hits to begin the first.
That set the tone early on, and the Rays found themselves with a two-run advantage going into the second inning.
By the time he retired the side in his fourth, Eovaldi had already faced 21 batters.
Out of those four disastrous frames, the Texas native could only manage one clean inning on Sunday, which came in the second. Tampa Bay sent at least five batters to the plate in the other three.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (65 strikes), Eovaldi relied heavily on both is four-seam and cut fastball this afternoon, as he turned to the two pitches a combined 63% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 99.5 MPH with that four-seamer in the third inning.
Falling to 5-6 with a 4.15 ERA on the season, let’s take a look at how Nathan Eovaldi’s Red Sox tenure has gone just over a month since the trade that sent him to Boston was completed.
First two starts:
2-0, 15 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, .143 BAA
Last four starts:
0-2, 17 IP, 35 H, 14 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, 7.41 ERA, .407 BAA
Obviously a sizable discrepancy there.
He’ll look to get back on track in his next time out, which should come against the Chicago White Sox next weekend.
In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen had another tall task ahead of themselves on Sunday with 12 outs to record, and they did not have the best of times.
Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, and Craig Kimbrel combined for three earned runs on four hits, four walks, and seven strikeouts in those four innings of work.
Special shout out to Craig Kimbrel though. For not seeing any in-game action since last Saturday, the Red Sox closer looked solid in a 1-2-3 eighth, fanning all three batters he faced. Four straight scoreless appearances for Kimbrel now too.
On the other side of things, Boston’s lineup was held to one lone run for the second straight day on Sunday.
Facing off against Rays ace Blake Snell, a left-hander, that one run came off the bat of a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth that plated Sandy Leon from third.
Other than that, Snell, along with Diego Castillo and Andrew Kittredge out of the Rays bullpen, limited the Red Sox to three total hits and two free passes while inducing nine strikeouts on the day.
Some notes from this 9-1 loss:
This is the first time the Red Sox have been swept since August 25-27th of last season, which also happened to be Players’ Weekend. Meaning, the Red Sox are 0-6 in Players’ Weekend games.
Over their last eight games, in which they are 2-6, the Red Sox have averaged 3.6 runs per game while starters own a 6.47 ERA in that span.
On the flip side of that, the Rays have won eight straight games and are now 70-61 on the season.
Mookie Betts took the first step in getting out of his slump by recording his first base hit since Thursday on a fourth inning single.
Finishing their season series against the Rays with a solid 11-8 record despite the sweep, the Red Sox will turn their attention to another Florida team for a quick two-game set against the 53-79 Miami Marlins, but not before enjoying a much-needed off day on Monday back in Boston.
Starting pitching matchups for that series go as follows:
Tuesday: RHP Jose Urena (4-12, 4.50 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Johnson (4-3, 4.12 ERA)
Wednesday: RHP Trevor Richards (3-7, 4.23 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (14-6, 3.50 ERA)
Going back to April, the Red Sox took both games from the Marlins in Miami.
Johnson, who got the start in the first game of that two-game series, tossed six frames of one-run ball in a winning effort, while Urena, who started for Miami in the second game, tossed seven one-run innings in a no decision.
First pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Tuesday at Fenway Park.