In his final tune-up before his first career Opening Day start this coming Friday, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi put together six solid innings of work in Sunday night’s intrasquad game at Fenway Park.
Over those six frames for the Home Sox, Eovaldi yielded two runs on four hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the evening.
Both of those runs surrendered by the 30-year-old came in the top half of the third, an inning in which Eovaldi served up a solo homer to Cesar Puello and an RBI single to Jackie Bradley Jr. while only being able to record one out before it was called for pitch count purposes.
Other than that shaky frame though, Eovaldi was rather impressive, as he retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced to end his outing on a positive note.
When speaking with reporters via Zoom postgame, Eovaldi said that his third-inning struggles were “a little bit mechanical” and that his splitter and breaking ball were “better towards the end” of his start.
Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke agreed with that sentiment, telling reporters in a separate postgame Zoom call that he thought Eovaldi’s last two innings “were really good.”
In terms of where he is at ahead of the start of the 2020 season, the Houston native added that he’s “excited” to start on Opening Day and he has no recollection of making any sort of other Opening Day start during his high school or minor-league career.
In an ideal world, Eovaldi would likely be the Sox’ No. 3 starter behind left-handers Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez. But, with Sale out for the year while recovering from Tommy John surgery and Rodriguez out for the beginning stages of the season while recovering from COVID-19, the flame-throwing righty has been thrust into the spotlight.
Eovaldi has certainly been the subject of plenty of criticism since he signed a four-year, $68 million deal with Boston two Decembers ago, but he now has the chance to silence some of his doubters starting on Friday night, when he’ll be opposite Orioles left-hander John Means on Opening Day at Fenway Park.
First pitch for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN.