If the Red Sox want to prove that they can be contenders this year, they need to play better at home. That is something manager Alex Cora has emphasized since spring training began in late February.
Following Saturday’s 8-2 loss at the hands of the Mariners, though, the Sox fell to 7-8 at Fenway Park and are now 13-9 on the season.
Eovaldi gets shelled for five runs
Nathan Eovaldi struggled in his fifth start of the season for the Red Sox in this one. The veteran right-hander came into Saturday’s contest sporting a respectable 3.04 ERA, but got lit up for five runs — four of which were earned — on seven hits, one walk, one hit batsman, and just three strikeouts over five innings of work.
The first four of those runs Eovaldi gave up came in the first two innings, with a seemingly red-hot Kyle Seager recording an RBI single in the top half of the first and a two-run triple in the top half of the second.
Alex Verdugo, starting in center field on Saturday, appeared to have a chance at making a play on Seager’s flyball, but instead got turned around and watched the ball bounce off the warning track in the center field triangle for a three-base hit.
The Mariners third baseman also scored from third on a wild pitch to give his side an early 3-0 edge.
Eovaldi did manage to settle down a little bit, at one point sitting down eight hitters in a row before serving up a one-out double to Seager in the fifth.
Another wild pitch from Eovaldi with two outs in the frame allowed Seager to advance to third, and he would come into score on a run-scoring groundout off the bat of Taylor Trammell that took a bad hop on Xander Bogaerts, who was playing in the shift.
Bogaerts was charged with a fielding error on the play, though it’s understandable to see why he struggled to come up with Trammell’s grounder cleanly once it hit the lip of the infield grass.
Eovaldi finished his day by getting Luis Torrens to pop out for the final out of the fifth, but the damage had already been done.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (56 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 40% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing just one swing-and-miss while topping out 99.1 mph with the pitch.
Falling to 3-2 on the year while inflating his ERA on the year to 3.77, Eovaldi’s next start should come against the Rangers on Friday.
Bullpen gives up three additional runs
In relief of Eovaldi, Austin Brice got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, tossed a 1-2-3 sixth inning, allowed a leadoff double to Ty France in the seventh, then made way for a struggling Josh Taylor.
Taylor, to his credit, got out of the seventh without allowing the runner he inherited to score and nearly worked a scoreless top half of the eighth as well.
However, with two outs in the frame and Sam Haggerty at the plate, the lefty served up a solo shot to the Mariners left fielder that saw the Sox’ deficit grow to five runs at 6-1. Taylor’s ERA on the season now stands at 9.72.
Phillips Valdez surrendered two more runs to Seattle in the ninth, though the second run he gave up was certainly avoidable had he just gotten to first base quicker on a softly-hit grounder from Haggerty with two outs that went down as an RBI single.
Red Sox lineup outmatched by Flexen
A reeling Red Sox lineup managed all of four hits against Mariners right-hander Chris Flexen on Saturday. Only one of those hits resulted in a Boston run when Marwin Gonzalez drilled an RBI single back up the middle in the seventh.
Rafael Devers, who scored on that Gonzalez hit, collected an RBI of his own in the ninth by plating Alex Verdugo from second on his fourth double of the season.
That cur the Red Sox’ deficit to six runs at 8-2, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score. Boston went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the process of falling to Seattle for the second time in three days.
Cordero fans three times
Red Sox outfielder Franchy Cordero’s recent struggles at the plate ensued on Saturday.
Batting out of the eight-hole, the 26-year-old went 0-for-3 on the day with three swinging strikeouts. He saw all of 13 pitches in his three at-bats.
Following Saturday’s action, Cordero has now struck out 23 times in 49 plate appearances since the season began earlier this month.
Verdugo “cramped up”
There was a moment in the fourth inning where after fielding a lineout in the top of the fourth, Verdugo came up lame with a left hamstring issue of some sort.
Verdugo remained in the game and wound up finishing the day 2-for-4 with a double. Cora said during his postgame media availability that the 24-year-old “cramped up,” hence the reason for his hobbling around some.
Next up: Margevicius vs. Rodriguez
Sunday’s series finale between the Mariners and Red Sox (weather permitting) will feature another pitching matchup of two left-handers.
Eduardo Rodriguez will be getting the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by Nick Margevicius for Seattle.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN, though the forecast for the Boston area does not look promising.
(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)