Three hits was all the Red Sox needed to take care of business against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. In their first home game under the lights, Boston squeaked out a 2-1 victory over Toronto to improve to 6-5 on the year.
It was a grind for Nathan Eovaldi, who made his third start of the season for the Sox on Tuesday. The veteran right-hander allowed just one run on seven hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.
The lone run Eovaldi surrendered once again came by way of the home run ball. To lead off the top of the second, the righty served up a solo shot to Zack Collins that gave the Jays an early 1-0 lead. That is already the fifth homer Eovaldi has surrendered in 2022.
The Red Sox, however, did not take long to respond. While still matched up against Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi, Enrique Hernandez reached base via a one-out double in the third and immediately came into score on a game-tying, RBI double off the bat of Trevor Story.
With things knotted up at one run apiece, Eovaldi maneuvered his way around a pair of hits in the fourth inning and retired two of the first three batters he faced in the fifth. With the potential go-ahead run at first and Collins due to hit for Toronto, Boston manager Alex Cora gave Eovaldi the hook in favor of Matt Strahm.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (61 strikes), Eovaldi turned to his four-seam fastball 44% of the time he was on the mound on Tuesday. The 32-year-old hurler hovered around 96.4 mph with the pitch while also inducing a game-high four swings-and-misses with his curveball.
In relief of Eovaldi, Strahm stranded the lone runner he inherited by punching out Collins on four pitches. The lefty then sat down the side in order in the sixth before making way for Hansel Robles, who did the very same in the top of the seventh.
Following a Blue Jays pitching change that saw Yimi Garcia take over for David Phelps, Bobby Dalbec — representing the go-ahead run led off the bottom of the seventh by reaching first and advancing to second on a Bo Bichette throwing error. Jackie Bradley Jr., who was pinch-hitting for Arroyo, advanced Dalbec another 90 feet by grounding out to short.
With a crucial run just 90 feet away from scoring, Connor Wong stepped up to the plate for a third time. One day removed from being called up from Triple-A Worcester for the first time this season, Wong came through when it mattered most by driving in Dalbec on a 298-foot sacrifice fly to right field.
Wong’s first RBI of 2022 — and just the second of his big-league career — gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 2-1. Robles then picked up where he left off by notching the first two outs of the eighth on a pair of strikeouts. Jake Diekman got the final out of the inning.
Looking to secure a hard-fought win, Cora deployed Garrett Whitlock for the ninth inning. Working on two days rest, Whitlock needed all of 12 pitches to retire Alejandro Kirk, Raimel Tapia, and Santiago Espinal in order to close things out and pick up the save. The right-hander came up gimpy after going into a slide to get Tapia at first base for the second out, but appears to be fine.
Some notes from this win:
From The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey:
From the Red Sox’ J.P. Long:
The Red Sox won on Tuesday despite going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and leaving five men on base as a team.
Four different Red Sox relievers (Strahm, Robles, Diekman, and Whitlock) combined to toss 4 1/3 scoreless, one-hit innings in Tuesday’s win. Here is what Cora had to say about using Whitlock in the ninth, via MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:
Next up: Berrios vs. Pivetta
The Red Sox will go for their second consecutive victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Wednesday night. Nick Pivetta is expected to get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Jose Berrios is in line to do the same for Toronto.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network. The Sox will also honor the late Jerry Remy in a pre-game ceremony.
(Picture of Connor Wong: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)