Nathan Eovaldi leaves Red Sox, agrees to two-year, $34 million deal with Rangers

Nathan Eovaldi’s time with the Red Sox has apparently come to an end.

The veteran right-hander has agreed to sign with the Rangers, according to FanSided’s Robert Murray. Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that it is a two-year, $34 million contract that includes a vesting option for 2025 as well as performance bonuses that can take the value of the deal — which is pending a physical — even higher.

Going into further detail, Eovaldi can earn up to $3 million in bonuses per year if he reaches 160 innings, per Passan. The third-year option is dependent on how many innings he pitches over the next two seasons. If he can reach the 300-inning plateau from 2023-2024, he will receive a $20 million player option in 2025. In total, Eovaldi could earn up to $63 million over the next three years.

Eovaldi, who turns 33 in February, became a free agent for the third time in his career last month after spending the better part of the last five seasons in Boston. The Red Sox never approached Eovaldi about a possible contract extension during the 2022 regular season but did express interest in a reunion once the World Series ended and the offseason began.

In addition to extending Eovaldi a $19.65 million qualifying offer, the Red Sox also gave him a multi-year contract offer. The righty rejected both and instead elected to hit the open market.

Recent reports suggested that other teams were showing more interest in Eovaldi than the Red Sox were. Since Eovaldi will now be taking his talents to Texas, Boston will receive a compensatory pick after the fourth round of next year’s amateur draft.

Originally acquired from the Rays ahead of the 2018 trade deadline, Eovaldi played a key role in helping the Red Sox win a World Series title that October. He posted a 3.33 ERA (2.88 FIP) over 12 appearances (11 starts, 54 innings) down the stretch in the regular season and then pitched to a 1.61 ERA (2.71 FIP) in the postseason. His most memorable outing during that run came in Game 3 of the World Series against the Dodgers, when he tossed six one-run innings of relief in a loss in an effort to preserve the Boston bullpen.

After needing just five games to triumph over the Dodgers in the Fall Classic, the Red Sox signed Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million deal at the Winter Meetings that December.

Eovaldi’s first full season in Boston was marred by injuries, but he bounced back in 2020 and then put together a career year in 2021 by forging a 3.75 ERA (2.79 FIP) with 195 strikeouts to 35 walks over 32 starts (182 1/3 innings). He made his first All-Star team that summer and wound up finishing fourth in American League Cy Young voting.

This past season, Eovaldi proved to be effective yet again. He produced a respectable 3.87 ERA (4.30 FIP) and walked just 4.4 percent of the batters he faced. But he was limited to just 20 starts spanning 109 1/3 innings of work due to bouts with lower back and right shoulder inflammation that required two separate stints on the injured list. Those injuries may have contributed to a dip in his fastball velocity this year.

All told, Eovaldi compiled a lifetime 4.05 ERA (3.73 FIP) in 96 career appearances (461 1/2 innings) across five seasons with the Red Sox. He served as Boston’s Jimmy Fund captain over the last two years and was the club’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award in 2021.

By agreeing to a deal with the Rangers, Eovaldi will be returning home to Texas. The Houston-area native is slated to join a starting rotation mix in Arlington that includes fellow free agent additions Jacob deGrom and Andrew Heaney, former teammate Martin Perez, and Jon Gray, among others. He will also be reunited with former Red Sox bench coach Will Venable, who left Alex Cora’s staff to become associate manager under Bruce Bochy last month.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, have now lost two members of their 2022 starting rotation to free agency in the same day. Just hours before news of Eovaldi’s agreement with the Rangers broke, it was revealed that left-hander Rich Hill had agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Pirates.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox have made it clear that they would like to add a starter or two to a rotation mix that is projected to include Chris Sale, James Paxton, Brayan Bello, and Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, and possibly even Tanner Houck heading into the 2023 campaign.

While Eovaldi and Hill are off the table, Michael Wacha — who made 23 starts for Boston in 2022 — remains unsigned. Other options available via free agency include Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, and Corey Kluber, who has already been linked to the Red Sox this winter.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox rumors: Michael Wacha drawing interest from Orioles, per report

The Orioles are showing continued interest in Red Sox free agent Michael Wacha, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Morosi notes that Wacha’s market could move quickly now that fellow free agent starters Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen have reportedly agreed to deals with the Dodgers and Tigers, respectively.

Wacha, 31, enjoyed a productive season with the Red Sox after signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the club last November. In 23 starts for Boston, the veteran right-hander posted a 3.32 ERA and 4.14 FIP with 104 strikeouts to 31 walks over 127 2/3 innings of work.

While those numbers are undoubtedly solid, Wacha did land on the injured list twice because of left intercostal irritation in May and then because of right shoulder inflammation in early July. Upon returning from the IL for the second and final time in mid-August, Wacha pitched to a 4.11 ERA (4.36 FIP) in 10 starts (57 innings) to close out his season.

Over the course of the 2022 campaign, Wacha relied on a five-pitch mix that consisted of a four-seam fastball that averaged 93 mph, a changeup that averaged 84.3 mph, a cutter that averaged 88.8 mph, a sinker that averaged 92.6 mph, and a curveball that averaged 74.7 mph. The changeup was by far his most effective offering, as the 6-foot-6, 215-pound hurler held opposing hitters to a .176 expected batting average with it. According to Baseball Savant, Wacha stood out in two statistical categories this season. His 6.0 percent walk rate ranked in the 79th percentile of the league while his 35.4 percent hard-hit rate ranked in the 70th percentile.

A former first-round pick of the Cardinals who spent the first seven seasons of his major-league career in St. Louis, Wacha — a client of CAA Sports — is surely looking to cash in and land a multi-year deal this winter after having to settle for one-year pacts with the Mets, Rays, and Red Sox in each of the last three offseasons. The Texas A&M product is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a two-year, $16 million contract in free agency.

Coming off their first winning season since 2016, the Orioles appear to be a team on the rise in the American League East. So far this offseason, Baltimore — under general manager Mike Elias — has signed veteran starter Kyle Gibson to a one-year, $10 million deal. It also has top prospect Grayson Rodriguez waiting in the wings to join a rotation mix that should include Gibson, Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish, Tyler Wells, Austin Voth, Mike Baumann, DL Hall, and the rehabbing John Means, among others.

Wacha, who does not turn 32 until July, would join Gibson in providing the Orioles with some stability and experience out of the rotation if he can stay healthy. The Red Sox did not extend Wacha a qualifying offer last month, meaning the righty is not attached to any sort of draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

Boston did, however, issue a qualifying offer to Nathan Eovaldi, who rejected it and is now drawing interest from another division rival in the Yankees. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said at last week’s Winter Meetings in San Diego that he still looking to add a starter or two, so reunions with one or both of Eovaldi and Wacha certainly cannot be ruled out yet.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: G Fiume/Getty Images)

Red Sox could risk losing Nathan Eovaldi to Yankees in free agency if New York is unable to land Carlos Rodón, per report

The Yankees may turn their attention to Red Sox free agent Nathan Eovaldi if they are unable to sign left-hander Carlos Rodon, according to The New York Post’s Jon Heyman.

As the top remaining free agent starter on the market, Rodon is reportedly seeking a deal of seven-plus years for at least $30 million per year. The Yankees have already made Rodon an initial offer, but there is apparently a sizable gap between what the 30-year-old southpaw wants and what New York is willing to give him.

“Rodon remains the Yankees’ top priority despite the gap, and the sides are expected to work on potential compromises over the next few days,” Heyman wrote on Tuesday. “The Yankees believe Rodon wants to come to New York, but if they can’t bridge their difference, they may turn to their next choice, believed to be ex-Yankee Nate Eovaldi. Rodon brings some advantages, his left-handedness being one in Yankee Stadium.”

Eovaldi, who pitched for the Yankees from 2015-2016, should already be quite familiar with the organization. If general manager Brian Cashman and Co. are unable to reel in Rodon, the 32-year-old righty could provide a veteran presence to a starting rotation that is projected to include Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino, Frankie Montas, and Domingo German.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Eovaldi’s market has been a slow-moving one this winter. That likely has to do with the fact that the righty is attached to draft pick compensation since the Red Sox extended him a qualifying offer last month.

Eovaldi, who turns 33 in February, posted a 3.87 ERA and 4.30 FIP with 103 strikeouts to 20 walks over 20 starts (109 1/3 innings) for Boston in the final year of his four-year, $68 million contract this season. His workload was limited to due to bouts with low back and right shoulder inflammation. The Red Sox, per Cotillo, did not make any extension offers to Eovaldi during the regular season but have had talks with the ACES client since the World Series ended.

In addition to issuing him a $19.65 million qualifying offer, the Red Sox also gave Eovaldi a multi-year contract offer. He rejected both of those offers, meaning Boston will receive a compensatory pick between the fourth and fifth round of next year’s draft if Eovaldi signs elsewhere.

Earlier this week, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that other teams had shown more interest in Eovaldi than the Red Sox had since free agency began in November. The Yankees could very well be one of those teams, though the Sox would still like to add a starter two to their rotation mix for 2023, meaning Eovaldi could still be part of their plans.

“I think everybody knows the situation,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of Eovaldi during last week’s Winter Meetings in San Diego. “There has been contact and there has been mutual desire for him to come back here. But nothing to report on that front.”

While Eovaldi remains unsigned for the time being, the native Texan did commit to pitch for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic on Wednesday.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox not showing as much interest in Nathan Eovaldi than other teams, per report

Other teams are showing more interest in Nathan Eovaldi than the level currently displayed by the Red Sox, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Eovaldi, who turns 33 in February, became a free agent last month after the four-year, $68 million million deal he signed in December 2018 expired. Shortly before he hit the open market, the Red Sox extended Eovaldi a $19.65 million qualifying offer in addition to a multi-year contract offer. The right-hander rejected both.

Since the Red Sox did issue a qualifying offer to Eovaldi, they would receive draft pick compensation if he were to sign elsewhere. The fact that the 32-year-old is tied to the forfeiture of draft pick(s) could be what is suppressing his market.

The clubs that are interested in Eovaldi are viewed as potential contenders, per Bradford. The Mets were believed to be in the mix for the righty’s services but have since bolstered their starting rotation by signing Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga. The same can be said to some degree about the Blue Jays as well.

The Red Sox, for their part, “would still like to add a starter or two,” according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. As things stand now, candidates for Boston’s Opening Day starting rotation next year include Nick Pivetta, Brayan Bello, Chris Sale, James Paxton, Garrett Whitlock, and maybe even Tanner Houck.

In order to supplement that group, the Sox have pursued starting pitching this offseason. They made offers to left-hander Andrew Heaney and right-hander Zach Eflin, who both elected to sign elsewhere so that they can pitch closer to home. They have also been in contact with Corey Kluber and the aforementioned Senga, who reportedly agreed to a five-year, $75 million deal with the Mets late Saturday night.

At the Winter Meetings in San Diego last week, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters (including Cotillo and Bradford) that the Red Sox were looking to add consistency to their rotation and that they were interested in bringing back Eovaldi.

“I think everybody knows the situation,” Bloom said. “There has been contact and there has been mutual desire for him to come back here. But nothing to report on that front.”

Originally acquired from the Rays ahead of the 2018 trade deadline, Eovaldi has proven to be a key member of the Red Sox’ starting rotation when healthy over the last 4 1/2 years. After an injury-marred 2019, Eovaldi pitched to a 3.72 ERA during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. He then enjoyed a career year in 2021 by posting a 3.75 ERA in 32 starts (182 2/3 innings), making his first All-Star team, and finishing fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting.

This past season, Eovaldi was limited to just 20 starts due to lower back and right shoulder inflammation. Over 109 1/3 innings of work, Eovaldi flashed diminished fastball velocity but still produced a respectable 3.87 ERA and 103:20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His 4.4 percent walk rate ranked in the 95th percentile of the league, per Baseball Savant.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi reject Red Sox’ qualifying offers

Last Thursday, the Red Sox extended qualifying offers to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and shortstop Xander Bogaerts. They learned on Tuesday that both free agents rejected the one-year, $19.65 million deal to return to Boston for the 2023 season.

Bogaerts’ decision is hardly a surprising one. The 30-year-old infielder has earned $20 million in each of the last three seasons and would therefore be taking a pay cut if he were to accept the qualifying offer after opting out of his contract last week. He is instead expected to receive a long-term deal that exceeds $30 million in average annual value at some point this winter.

Knowing that he was going to reject it, the Red Sox still issued Bogaerts a qualifying offer anyway. If the Boras Corp. client signs elsewhere in free agency, Boston would receive a compensatory pick following the fourth round of next year’s draft.

The same applies to Eovaldi, who could have gone either way with his decision. A $19.65 million salary in 2023 would have represented a 15.6 percent raise from the $17 million the 32-year-old hurler earned in 2022.

Eovaldi posted a 3.87 ERA and 4.30 FIP with 103 strikeouts to 20 walks in 20 starts (109 1/3 innings) for the Red Sox this past season. He was sidelined from June 9-July 15 with low back inflammation and from August 19-September 29 with right shoulder inflammation, which had led to diminished fastball velocity.

Despite those concerns, Eovaldi — who turns 33 in February — elected to hit the open market as opposed to taking the qualifying offer. The ACES client has said in the past that he enjoys pitching for the Red Sox and that his family has loved their time in Boston. The feeling appears to be mutual.

On Sunday, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that the Red Sox had made Eovaldi a multi-year contract offer. The fact that Eovaldi is now attached to draft pick compensation may lessen his market, making a reunion between the two sides all the more likely.

With that being said, though, it remains to be seen how close the Red Sox and Eovaldi are to a potential agreement. Starting pitching is always a hot commodity, and another team could jump on a veteran starter like Eovaldi if given the chance to do so.

Fourteen players in total were extended qualifying offers by their respective clubs last week. Of those 14, only Giants outfielder Joc Pederson and Rangers left-hander Martin Perez accepted it.

Besides Bogaerts and Eovaldi, the other 10 players who rejected the qualifying offer were the Dodgers’ Tyler Anderson and Trea Turner, the Mets’ Chris Bassitt, Jacob deGrom, and Brandon Nimmo, the Cubs’ Wilson Contreras, the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, the Giants’ Carlos Rodon, and the Braves’ Dansby Swanson.

It has since been reported that Anderson has agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Angels while Rizzo has agreed to return to the Bronx on a two-year deal that comes with $40 million in guaranteed money.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox were to sign a qualified free agent (outside of Bogaerts and Eovaldi) this winter, they would be forced to forfeit their second- and fifth-highest selections in the 2023 draft. Additionally, they would see their international signing bonus pool be reduced by $1 million after exceeding the $230 million competitive balance tax threshold this year.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox extend qualifying offers to Xander Bogaerts and Nathan Eovaldi

The Red Sox have extended qualifying offers to shortstop Xander Bogaerts and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. They did not issue the qualifying offer to other eligible free agents such as righty Michael Wacha or designated hitter J.D. Martinez ahead of Thursday’s deadline, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Bogaerts and Eovaldi now have the next 10 days to either accept or reject the qualifying offer, which equates to a one-year, $19.65 million deal for 2023. Bogaerts, who opted out of his contract after earning $20 million this past season, is a sure bet to reject the offer since he is going to make more per year in free agency.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, could accept it. The $19.65 million the 32-year-old would receive in 2023 represents a 15.6 percent raise from the $17 million he earned in the final year of the four-year, $68 million contract he signed in December 2018.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox “are believed to be interested in a multi-year agreement” with Eovaldi, who was limited to just 20 starts (109 1/3 innings) this season after requiring two stints on the injured list due to low back and right shoulder inflammation.

If the two sides cannot come to an agreement, Eovaldi could still elect to accept the qualifying offer, re-establish his value, and hit the open market again at the conclusion of his age-33 campaign. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reports that Eovaldi and his family have loved their time in Boston, so that could play a factor as well.

Either way, the Red Sox have ensured that they will be compensated in the event that Bogaerts or Eovaldi leave in free agency. After spending past the $230 million luxury tax threshold this year, Boston would receive a compensatory draft pick that falls after the fourth round of the 2023 draft if Bogaerts or Eovaldi reject the qualifying offer and sign elsewhere this winter.

Last year, for instance, the Red Sox extended a qualifying offer to Eduardo Rodriguez. The left-hander ultimately rejected it and went on to sign a four-year, $77 million with the Tigers. As a result, the Sox were awarded with the 79th overall pick in the 2022 draft, which they used on high school outfielder Roman Anthony.

The Red Sox also showed a willingness to sign a qualified free agent last offseason. After inking second baseman Trevor Story to a six-year, $140 million deal in March, Boston was forced to give up the 61st overall pick in the draft.

If the Red Sox were to sign a qualified free agent (not including Bogaerts or Eovaldi) this winter, they would have to forfeit their second-and fifth-highest pick in next year’s draft. They would also see their international signing bonus pool be reduced by $1 million as a result of exceeding the competitive balance tax threshold.

In addition to Bogaerts and Eovaldi, 12 other players received qualifying offers on Thursday. The two All-Stars were joined by Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, Jacob deGrom, Dansby Swanson, Carlos Rodon, Brandon Nimmo, Wilson Contreras, Chris Bassitt, Anthony Rizzo, Tyler Anderson, Martin Perez, and Joc Pederson.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts’ grand slam powers Red Sox to rain-shortened 6-0 win over Rays

On a misty Tuesday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox secured a series victory over the Rays in their penultimate game of the season. Boston defeated Tampa Bay, 6-0, in a rain-shortened five innings to improve to 77-84 on the year.

With old friend Jeffrey Springs on the mound for the Rays, the Sox jumped out to an early lead in the second inning. Alex Verdugo drew a leadoff walk off the left-hander and moved up to second base on a two-out single from Eric Hosmer.

Christian Arroyo followed that sequence by taking the first pitch he saw from Springs and lifting a 169-foot single to shallow right field to drive in Verdugo for the first run of the night.

Fast forward to the fifth, with Springs already out of the game, and the Sox struck again off Colin Poche. Arroyo led off with a single and immediately moved up to third on a line-drive double from Connor Wong. As the lineup turned back over, Rafael Devers drew a one-out walk to bring Xander Bogaerts to the plate with the bases loaded.

Bogaerts came through by unloading on a hanging curveball from Poche and depositing it 421 feet over the Green Monster for his 15th home run of the season. The grand slam was the seventh from a Boston hitter this year and the seventh of Bogaerts’ career. It had an exit velocity of 110.6 mph and gave the Red Sox a 5-0 lead, though they were not done there.

After Poche left the game with an apparent injury, Brooks Raley came on for the Rays and walked two of the first three batters he faced. He then got Hosmer to hit a grounder towards Isaac Paredes at first base. Paredes fielded the ball cleanly, but Raley could not corral his underhanded toss as he attempted to cover the bag.

As a result of Raley’s misses catch error, J.D. Martinez was able to score all the way from second to make it a 6-0 contest in favor of the Sox. Moments after Martinez scored, the grounds crew took the field with the tarpaulin in tow and this game entered a delay at around 8:58 p.m. eastern time. Fifty-two minutes later, it was officially called.

Although the fifth inning was not played in full, the Red Sox were still credited with a 6-0 win since they were ahead in the bottom of the fifth. Nathan Eovaldi, meanwhile, was credited with a complete game shutout.

Making his final start of the season and perhaps his last start in a Red Sox uniform, Eovaldi allowed just two hits on two walks to go along with four strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work.

The veteran right-hander took a no-hitter into the third before giving up a two-out single to Jose Siri. He then stranded Siri by fanning Yandy Diaz on five pitches.

In the fourth, Eovaldi issued back-to-back walks to Wander Franco and Ji-Man Choi to lead off the inning. Franco moved up to third on an Isaac Paredes flyout, but Eovaldi escaped the jam by getting Jonathan Aranda to ground into an inning-ending 6-3 double play that was started by Bogaerts.

From there, Eovaldi worked his way around a two-out double from Taylor Walls in the fifth to ultimately notch his sixth winning decision of the season. The 32-year-old hurler finished with 64 pitches (40 strikes) while lowering his final ERA to 3.87.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Fleming in Game No. 162

The Red Sox will look to end the regular season by completing a three-game sweep over the Rays on Wednesday afternoon. Right-hander Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston while left-hander Josh Fleming will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts, Eric Hosmer return to Red Sox lineup for Tuesday’s game against Rays

Xander Bogaerts and Eric Hosmer are both back in the Red Sox’ lineup for Tuesday’s contest against the Rays at Fenway Park.

Bogaerts has missed each of Boston’s last two games due to back tightness. He will be batting third and starting at shortstop on Tuesday. Hosmer was activated from the injured list on Monday after missing the last six weeks with low back inflammation. He will be batting seventh and starting at first base in place of Triston Casas.

Hosmer, who was originally placed on the 10-day injured list on August 21, was unable to go out on a rehab assignment since the minor-league season is already over. The 32-year-old instead spent his weekend at Fenway hitting off a high-tech pitching simulator.

“We’ve got this machine down there, it’s like a simulator or whatever,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on Sunday. “What comes out is pretty similar to the stuff [of MLB pitchers]. You put, for example, Gerrit Cole, and the machine actually calibers the stuff based on his last start. So he’s been facing some good big-league pitching the past few days.”

Since being acquired from the Padres at the trade deadline, Hosmer has been limited to just 12 games with the Sox. The left-handed hitter has batted .225/.311/.300 with three doubles, four RBIs, six runs scored, four walks, and nine strikeouts across 45 plate appearances.

Bogaerts, meanwhile, felt his back tighten up on him when he tried to hit in the batting cage prior to Monday’s 4-3 win over Tampa Bay. As a result, he was scratched from the lineup but is back in there for the penultimate game of the season.

In his last nine games dating back to September 22, Bogaerts has gone 4-for-33 (.121) at the plate, likely putting him out of contention for the American League batting title. Still, the 30-year-old infielder is expected to become a free-agent this winter if he exercises the opt-out clause in his contract, so these could very well be his last few days playing in a Red Sox uniform.

Speaking of pending free-agents, Nathan Eovaldi is on the mound for his final start of the season. Connor Wong will be catching the right-hander while batting out of the nine-hole. Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up as they go up against Rays lefty Jeffrey Springs to start things out on Tuesday:

1. LF Tommy Pham

2. 3B Rafael Devers

3. SS Xander Bogaerts

4. RF Alex Verdugo

5. DH J.D. Martinez

6. CF Kiké Hernández

7. 1B Eric Hosmer

8. 2B Christian Arroyo

9. C Connor Wong

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Eric Hosmer: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez belts game-winning homer as Red Sox take series from Orioles with 5-3 victory

The Red Sox fell behind early, battled back, and blew a late lead. But they still held on for a series-clinching victory over the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. Boston defeated Baltimore, 5-3, to extend its winning streak to three and improve to 75-81 on the season.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his first start since August 12, pitched well in his return from the injured list. The veteran right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and zero walks to go along with three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.

Both of those Orioles runs came in the top of the third. Following back-to-back singles from Kyle Stowers and Jorge Mateo to lead off the inning, Stowers scored from third by avoiding Connor Wong’s tag on an Adley Rutschman groundout. Anthony Santander then hit a grounder in the direction of Triston Casas, who booted the ball. The fielding error allowed Mateo to score from third to double his side’s lead at 2-0.

The Sox pulled back even with Baltimore in their half of the fourth. J.D. Martinez reached base on a one-out double off Orioles starter Mike Baumann. Casas then made up for his previous mistake by roping a 330-foot double off the Green Monster that plated Martinez to make it a 2-1 game. Enrique Hernandez followed with a run-scoring single of his own to bring in Casas and knot things up at two runs apiece.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, retired the first two batters he faced in the fifth before getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The 32-year-old hurler finished with 72 pitches (51 strikes). He did not factor into the decision, but he did lower his ERA on the season down to 4.05.

In relief of Eovaldi, Eduard Bazardo recorded the final out of the fifth and also sat down the side in order in the top of the sixth. A half-inning later, Boston got to Orioles reliever Cionel Perez.

Alex Verdugo led off with a line-drive single and promptly advanced to second base on a wild pitch. He moved up an additional 90 feet on a Casas single and then raced home when Christian Arroyo grounded out to third base.

With a brand new one-run lead in hand, Matt Strahm almost immediately gave that up in the seventh when Stowers took him 399 feet deep to right-center to tie the score at 3-3.

Following a scoreless top of the eighth from Zack Kelly, though, the Red Sox again responded. With one out and one runner on, Martinez came through with a clutch two-run homer on the very first pitch he saw (a hanging slider on the inner half of the plate) from Dillon Tate.

Martinez’s 14th home run of the season left his bat at 100.1 mph and travelled 392 feet into the Monster Seats to give the Sox a 5-3 lead going into the ninth. There, Kaleb Ort worked his way around a two-out single to notch the first save of his big-league career. Kelly was credited with his first career win as well.

Offensively, Verdugo, Martinez, and Casas accounted for six of Boston’s nine hits. Verdugo went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, Martinez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and Casas went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and a walk.

Next up: Final road trip to Toronto

The Red Sox will now head to Toronto for their final road trip of the season. It comes in the form of a three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays. Native Canadian Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston in Friday’s series opener opposite fellow righty-hander Alek Manoah.

First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Red Sox injuries: Nathan Eovaldi aiming to pitch again this season; Trevor Story could return on Tuesday

Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi threw a four-inning simulated game at Fenway Park on Sunday morning. The right-hander faced the likes of Abraham Almonte, Tommy Pham, and Trevor Story while throwing approximately 65 pitches.

“It felt good,” Eovaldi told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) prior to Sunday’s 13-3 win over the Royals. “I was trying to use all my pitches. It’s a little tough to get going early in the morning. But I felt like I was finishing my pitches for the most part and I mixed them all up.”

Eovaldi, who last pitched for the Red Sox on August 12, has been on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation since Aug. 19. If the 32-year-old wakes up on Monday morning with no complications, he could be in line to make a rehab start for Triple-A Worcester at Polar Park later this week.

“He looked good,” manager Alex Cora said. “Now we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He mixed everything up. A lot of splits and the slider and the curveball. The quality of the fastball was OK. So now it’s just a matter of how he reacts to it and what’s the next step. Obviously we’re running out of time as far as games and all that stuff. So we’ll see what’s next.”

As noted by MLB.com’s Ian Browne, Eovaldi would be on track to make two more starts with Boston before the end of the season if he rehabs with the WooSox on Friday. The veteran hurler has been limited to just 18 starts this year due to two lengthy stints on the injured list.

“I’d love to pitch in front of the home crowd again,” said Eovaldi, who is eligible for free agency this winter and has yet to discuss a contract extension with the Red Sox despite wanting to return to Boston.

Story, meanwhile, has been sidelined since last Sunday, when he banged his left heel on the first-base bag in the seventh inning of a 1-0 win over the Orioles in Baltimore.

Cora was initially optimistic that Story would be back for this weekend’s series against the Royals, but that did not happen as expected. Still, the 29-year-old second baseman took an important step forward on Sunday by facing off against Eovaldi as well as running the bases.

Depending on how he feels over the next two days, Story could return to the Red Sox lineup for Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds in Cincinnati.

“With Trevor, it’s about running right now,” Cora said. “He ran the bases today. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. I’ve been saying this for a few days: the goal is for him to play the next day. So we just have to be patient with it.”

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi and Trevor Story: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)