The Red Sox opened a day-night doubleheader against the Orioles with a bounce-back win at Fenway Park on Saturday afternoon. Boston defeated Baltimore, 5-3, to improve to 22-24 on the season.
Nathan Eovaldi was Saturday’s early headliner. In his ninth start of the year for the Sox, the veteran right-hander tossed the first perfect game of his big-league career. He allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over nine strong innings of work.
That first O’s run came right away in the first inning, as Cedric Mullins led off with a single, was able to advance to second when Trey Mancini reached on a Rafael Devers missed catch error, and scored from second on an RBI single off the bat of Trey Mancini.
So, three batters into his start, Eovaldi had yet to record an out and had already allowed one run to score. He was able to recover, though, as he stranded Mancini and Santander in the first before stringing together three straight scoreless frames.
While doing that, the Red Sox lineup got to Eovaldi’s counterpart in Jordan Lyles for three runs in their half of the second. After Alex Verdugo was thrown out at home plate for the first out of the inning, a two-out walk drawn by Kevin Plawecki put runners on the corners for Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley Jr. got his side on the board with an RBI double that plated Christian Arroyo. Enrique Hernandez followed with a two-run single through the left side of the infield that scored both Plawecki and Bradley Jr.
Fast forward to the fifth, and Eovaldi once again ran into trouble when he yielded a leadoff double to Ramon Urias and a game-tying, two-run home run to Robinson Chirinos.
With things still knotted at 3-3 in the sixth, Red Sox manager Alex Cora elected to have Bobby Dalbec pinch-hit for Franchy Cordero with left-handed reliever Keegan Akin on the mound for the Orioles. Dalbec proceeded to make Cora look like a very smart man by crushing a go-ahead, 397-foot solo shot into Baltimore’s bullpen.
Dalbec’s second home run of the season and first since April 10 put Boston up, 4-3. Arroyo provided some insurance an inning later with an RBI single that drove in J.D. Martinez from third base to make it a 5-3 game.
Eovaldi, meanwhile, took that newfound two-run lead and slammed the door shut on any chance of an Orioles comeback. The righty got the final two outs of the ninth by getting Rougned Odor to ground into a game-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
Finishing with a career-high final pitch count of 108 (75 strikes), Eovaldi was able to pick up his second save of the season while lowering his ERA down to 3.77. The 32-year-old hurler induced a total of 16 swings-and-misses on the afternoon. He topped out at 98.7 mph with his four-seam fastball.
Offensively, the Red Sox had 13 hits as a team. Devers accounted for four of them. Dalbec’s sixth-inning home run was the first of the pinch-hit variety from any Red Sox hitter this season.
Next up: Reyes vs. Winckowski in Game 2
The Red Sox will turn to Josh Winckowski for Game 2 of Saturday’s twin bill. The 23-year-old will be making his major-league debut opposite former Boston prospect Denyi Reyes, who will also be making his first career start for the Orioles.
First pitch from Fenway Park on Saturday night is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)