The Red Sox are in the midst of a bonafide win streak! Well, of two games at least. They started a series against the Orioles on Thursday and had a struggling Nathan Eovaldi on the mound. He turned things around in this one, hitting the zone and the edges to shut down Baltimore to the tune of seven innings with just one run allowed. The offense wasn’t exactly dynamic for most the games but they didn’t have to be. They scored just three runs, including one coming thanks to a Xander Bogaerts homer, in their first eight chances before breaking things wide open in the ninth. The Red Sox now have some real life momentum, a rare sight for this year.
Obviously things are bad pretty much all around for the Red Sox right now, but perhaps most alarming is that Nathan Eovaldi had been struggling mightily heading into Thursday’s start against the Orioles. He is the “ace” of this staff insofar as there is an ace of this staff, and if he’s struggling things feel particularly hopeful. The good news was he got to face the Orioles in this outing, and while they’ve been surprisingly good this year — particularly at the plate — Eovaldi already has a strong start against them this year in his Opening Day appearance.
This was another good for the righty, although it didn’t always look like that was going to be the case. Eovaldi got himself into some very real trouble in the bottom half of the first, giving up a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases with just two outs. It was a chance for Baltimore to get some early momentum, but Eovaldi got a huge third out on a ground ball to end the inning.
From there, things would get considerably easier. He allowed just a single in the second inning before coming through with perfect frames in both the third and the fourth. He’d give up a single in the fifth, but once again that was it to make it five shutout innings and four straight with a runner not advancing beyond first base.
On the other side, Asher Wojciechowski was pitching for the Orioles. A journeyman without much of a track record, he actually had a pretty good history against the Red Sox heading into this outing, so they were looking for early offense against the righty. They didn’t get it immediately, though, managing a couple of singles in the first but no runs.
The second would be better, though, with a rally getting started by a leadoff single from Christian Vázquez followed by a walk to put the first two runners on. A couple batters later, José Peraza slapped a base hit out to right field to bring Vázquez home and give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. With runners on the corners it looked like Alex Verdugo ended the inning with a double play ball, but a tough hop ate up Hanser Alberto, who managed just the one out at first and Kevin Pillar came in to score to make it a 2-0 game.
That was all they’d get in the second, but Xander Bogaerts would add on to things in the third. This one was much easier as it took just one swing, with Bogaerts falling behind 1-2 with one out. Wojciechowski threw a changeup in on the hands of the Red Sox shortstop, but he got the bat head around and drove it out and over the wall in left field. That gave Boston the 3-0 lead.
The offense would slow down for a bit after that, but it didn’t matter too much as Eovaldi continued to roll, tossing another scoreless frame in the sixth. After the offense went down in order in the top of the seventh, the righty came back out for the bottom of the inning looking for his longest outing of the year. Things didn’t get off to a great start as he fell behind 2-1 against Pat Valaika to kick off the inning. Eovaldi then threw a cutter that stayed up at the top of the zone and Valaika sent it out to right-center field for a solo shot, ending the shutout bid. Fortunately, Eovaldi didn’t let that snowball and got three straight outs after that to get through seven innings with a 3-1 lead.
With the bullpen getting set for the bottom of the eighth, the scuffling offense was looking for some insurance in the top of the inning. They got off to a good start with the first two runners reaching, but things went downhill from there. A ground ball moved runners to second and third but recorded the first out. Jackie Bradley Jr. then ripped one to the left side and Mitch Moreland was off on contact, but the ball was right at the third baseman. Moreland wisely headed back to the bag and Bradley was cut down at first, again with no runs scoring. They’d fail to get the run home before the end of the frame, and it was still 3-1.
That brought Ryan Brasier out for the bottom of the eighth looking to hold the two-run lead. He came through with a lights out inning, striking out two in a perfect frame. In the ninth, the offense finally broke through, getting an RBI single from Bogaerts before Mitch Moreland smashed a three-run homer to extend the lead to six.
That outburst allowed Brandon Workman to avoid a second straight day with an outing as Phillips Valdez came on for the bottom of the ninth. He would toss a perfect inning, finishing off the win to push the Red Sox record to 8-18.
The Red Sox will look to make it three in a row on Friday as they go with a bullpen game while Baltimore has John Means on the mound. First pitch is set for 7:35 PM ET.