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Fake Sox Game 66: Nathan Eovaldi stays hot

The Red Sox get back on track with their third win in a row.

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.

Our Fake Sox had a brutal second half of May as well as a tough first week of June, but they are looking to get back to their winning ways now. They won the last two of their series against the Brewers to take that three-game set, and after a day off Monday were looking to make it three in a row today against the Rays. They had Nathan Eovaldi on the mound, who has been red hot of late having allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his last eight starts. The Rays countered with Tyler Glasnow.

For the first half of the game, it was all pitching, and that is almost literally true. In fact, it was literally true for the first third of the game with the starters on both sides setting down each of the first nine batters they faced. The first baserunner for either team didn’t come until the top of the fourth when J.D. Martinez got a two-out single, but he was left at first base. Glasnow then came back with another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. The Rays also got their first base runner in the fourth with a leadoff single but didn’t advance the runner beyond first, and they’d also have a scoreless fifth with just a walk.

So, we entered the sixth in what felt like a blink of an eye with a combined three baserunners for the two teams and none of whom advanced beyond first base. The Red Sox changed the tide in the top of this inning, though, with Mitch Moreland and José Peraza coming through with back-to-back singles to start things off. After a ground out moved both runners up a base, Alex Verdugo came through in the clutch. The righty fielder smacked a base hit back through the middle to score two runs, and Boston jumped out to the 2-0 lead. The momentum quickly dissipated when Verdugo was picked off then Martinez struck out to end the inning, but the lead was in hand.

Now it was up to Eovaldi to hang on to the two-run cushion, and he obliged in the bottom of the inning. It wasn’t the easiest inning as he walked the leadoff man then a couple batters later walked another to put two on with just one out, bringing number three hitter Austin Meadows to the plate for the big at bat. Eovaldi got a huge ground ball right when he needed it, though, getting the left fielder to hit into a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning and keep the 2-0 lead in hand.

Glasnow came out firing in the seventh as well, recording a couple of quick outs against Rafael Devers and Bogaerts, but Jackie Bradley Jr. wasn’t going to make it too easy. The center fielder has been the Red Sox’s best player in this simulated season so far, and he jumped on the first pitch he saw here and launched it 436 feet to right-center field. The solo homer extended the Red Sox lead to 3-0.

Eovaldi got into a little more trouble in the seventh inning, issuing a one-out single followed by a wild pitch and another single to put runners on the corners with just one out. Things could have been worse, but the Rays did get one run home on a Ji-Man Choi sacrifice fly.

The real high-wire act came in the eighth, though. Eovaldi was back out for that inning and started off well, getting a couple of outs to start things off. He walked the third batter of the inning, though, before giving up a single and another walk to load up the bases. That would be the end of his night, and Matt Barnes came in out of the bullpen with the bases loaded and two outs and his team clinging to a two-run lead. He gave up hard contact to Brandon Lowe, but fortunately it was on the ground and right at Moreland, who scooped it up and recorded the third out, leaving the bases loaded and keeping the 3-1 lead intact.

Boston got some much-needed insurance in the ninth, too, when Bogaerts came up against José Alvarado with a man on and one out. The shortstop launched a 1-2 pitch out to left field for a 406-foot two-run homer, giving his team a little bit more breathing room with a 5-1 lead. Matt Barnes then came back out for the ninth with the save situation no longer in play for the time being, but got off to a tough start. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo led things off with a triple off the wall in right field, and the Rays had some moment. Barnes came back with two strikeouts and a ground out, though, and that was that.

The 5-1 victory made it three in a row for the Red Sox and pushed their record to 36-30. It also makes eight of nine starts for Eovaldi with two or fewer runs being scored against him. The bad news is the Yankees also won, keeping the deficit in the division at 1.5 games.

Down on the farm, Tanner Houck took the loss in Pawtucket’s only game over the last two days, Kyle Hart allowed just one run over seven innings in a win for Portland, Salem’s bullpen gave up four runs in the last three innings in a loss, Aldo Ramirez led the way in a win for Greenville, and the two DSL teams went 2-2 over the last two days with Luis Mota getting five hits including three doubles and a triple.