The Red Sox improved to 13-8-1 in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday following a 2-0 shutout victory over the Orioles at JetBlue Park.
Nathan Eovaldi made his sixth start of the spring for Boston in this one, and it turned out to be his best start of the spring thus far.
That being the case because over 5 2/3 innings of work, the veteran right-hander kept Baltimore off the scoreboard while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the night.
With the help of two twin killings and some fine defensive work from Enrique Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe, Eovaldi did not face more than four hitters in a single frame. He also retired the last three Orioles he faced in order before getting the hook with two outs in the top half of the sixth.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 83 (48 strikes) on Wednesday, the 31-year-old’s fifth and final start of the Grapefruit League campaign should come against the Braves in North Port next Monday.
In relief of Eovaldi, right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura got the call with one out to get in the sixth, and he wound up putting together his most impressive outing of the spring to this point by getting Tyler Nevin to ground out to end the inning before fanning a pair in a 1-2-3 top of the seventh.
Wednesday marked the 32-year-old’s fourth appearance in a Red Sox uniform, and it was his first without registering a walk or allowing a single base runner. Certainly a step in the right direction there.
From there, Adam Ottavino also struck out two Orioles in a perfect inning of relief in the eighth, while left-hander Josh Taylor closed things out and picked up the save by sitting down the only three batters he faced in order with some more assistance from Hernandez.
All in all, Sox pitchers collectively retired the last 13 Orioles batters who came to the plate from the top of the fifth until the end of the game, which ended with a final score of 2-0.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, which featured the likes of Hernandez, Alex Verdugo, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Marwin Gonzalez, Franchy Cordero, Michael Chavis, and Kevin Plawecki, was matched up against Orioles right-handed pitching prospect Dean Kremer to start things out on Wednesday.
After stranding a handful of base runners over the first two innings of this one, the top of the Boston lineup got things going in the third when Hernandez drew a leadoff walk.
A few moments later, Renfroe came to the plate for his second at-bat of the night after singling in the first, and he again got the best of Kremer — though to a much higher degree — by crushing a two-run home run deep to the opposite field.
That two-run shot — Renfroe’s third of the spring — put the Sox up 2-0 early, and that would prove to be all they needed to secure the 2-0 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday.
Some notes from this win:
After a slow start to the Grapefruit League campaign, Alex Verdugo put together his first multi-hit performance of the year in this one. The 24-year-old went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles while playing all nine innings in center field.
Franchy Cordero, who started in left and hit out of the seven-hole, went 1-for-3 with a hard-hit single to right-center field. He is 3-for-7 with a walk in his first three exhibition games with the Sox.
Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the crosstown rival Twins at JetBlue Park on Thursday night — their second consecutive contest under the lights.
Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his fourth start of the spring for Boston, and he will be matched up against right-hander Randy Dobnak for Minnesota.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcast on NESN Plus and will air on MLB Network on delay.
(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)