Nathan Eovaldi strikes out 7 in final tune-up before Opening Day as Red Sox fall to Pirates, 7-2

The Red Sox fell to 9-7 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday following a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Pirates at JetBlue Park.

In his final tune-up before Opening Day, Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi allowed five runs — three of which were earned — on six hits and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work.

The veteran right-hander began his afternoon on a solid note, retiring 11 of the first 12 Pirates he faced before serving up a two-out solo shot to former teammate Michael Chavis with two outs in the fourth inning.

After getting through the fourth and once again sitting down the side in order in the fifth, Eovaldi ran into more trouble in the sixth when he yielded a leadoff double to Hoy Park that was followed by a two-run blast off the bat of Diego Castillo that was just out of reach for a sprawling Jackie Bradley Jr.

That sequence made it a 3-0 contest in favor of Pittsburgh, though the Pirates tacked on more when Bligh Madris reached second base on a fielding error committed by Travis Shaw and scored on an RBI single from Hunter Owen.

Owen would be the last batter Eovaldi would face as the 32-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 94 and made way for Robert Kwiatkowski out of the Boston bullpen.

Kwiatkowski, in turn, allowed the lone runner he inherited in Owen to score before ending things in the top of the sixth. A half-inning later, the Red Sox responded by plating their first run of the day on a sacrifice fly off the bat of J.D. Martinez that scored Alex Verdugo from third to make it a 5-1 game.

Former Pirates reliever Austin Davis gave that run right back on back-to-back doubles to lead off the seventh, but Bradley Jr. came through with his second home run of the spring in the bottom half of the frame to keep the deficit at four.

Matt Barnes surrendered one run on two hits and a walk in the eighth, while Matt Strahm stranded two base runners and struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning. Boston then went down quietly in their half of the ninth, as 7-2 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Wright

The Red Sox will make one final trip to North Port on Sunday to take on the Braves at CoolToday Park. Nick Pivetta is slated to start for Boston and fellow righty Kyle Wright is in line to do the same for Atlanta.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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