Red Sox

Nathan Eovaldi did not want to come out during dominant AL Wild Card performance

"He gave me this look, like ‘What are you doing?'"

Nathan Eovaldi
Nathan Eovaldi of the Boston Red Sox reacts against the New York Yankees during the first inning of the American League Wild Card game at Fenway Park. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

With one out in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s Wild Card Game showdown against the Yankees, Red Sox manager Alex Cora came to get Nathan Eovaldi and got an icy look in return.

Eovaldi, after all, was in the middle of a gem of a performance — 5 1/3 innings, eight strikeouts, four hits and just one run, which propelled the Red Sox to a 6-2 victory.

The only problem: The run and two of the hits came in the top of the sixth inning. Anthony Rizzo hit a fly ball over the shallow right-field wall, and Aaron Judge reached first on a dribbling infield single with just one out. Quickly, Cora went out to the mound to get Eovaldi and bring in reliever Ryan Brasier.

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Eovaldi wasn’t particularly pleased.

“When I went to the mound, he gave me this look, like ‘What are you doing?’” Cora told reporters after the game. “It’s just such a tough game to manage. If he stays there and he hits a home run, then oof. We felt like our bullpen was ready for the rest of the game. We got lucky that the ball stayed in the ballpark, we made a great play, then we did a great job the rest of the game.”

Of course, Cora’s move almost backfired: The next batter, Giancarlo Stanton, hit a deep single off the wall. Judge motored around third and tried to score, but he was thrown out easily at the plate by Xander Bogaerts, who fielded a tough throw cleanly — “the play of the game,” as Kyle Schwarber put it afterward.

If Stanton’s hit traveled any higher and cleared the wall, Cora would have looked trigger-happy for pulling Eovaldi, who was dealing. During one memorable at-bat against Rizzo, Eovaldi fired three very different pitches — one with a normal wind-up, another with a skittering stutter step, and a quick pitch that mowed Rizzo down.

For Eovaldi, the performance was a return to form after his last disappointing outing against the Yankees on Sept. 24 in which he gave up seven hits, seven runs, and two walks in 2 2/3 innings.

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“The last time, I didn’t have the curve or the splitter and both of those pitches played big into my game,” Eovaldi said. “Tonight I was able to establish the fastball inside, get them active in there. Then I was able to,use the curveball the second time around — the pauses, quick pitches, things like that — and kind of use the splitter earlier in the counts to get them and get them active as well.”

Eovaldi, who was 11-9 with a 3.75 ERA, faced the Yankees seven times this season.

“Tonight I wanted to make sure to establish the fastball inside,” Eovaldi said. “And the second time through, I was able to kind of stay away from stay away from them but also keep them honest inside. I think that game plan worked out well for us tonight.”

“Nate was great,” Cora added. “We learned a lot last week. I know a lot of people doubted us and doubted him … but we executed the way we wanted to, and Nate was amazing.”

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