For the first time since the end of July when they went to New York to take on the Mets, the Red Sox have won a series away from Fenway. This one started as a pitchers’ duel, with Nathan Eovaldi taking a no-hitter into the fifth and eventually leaving after five shutout frames and José Ureña keeping Boston off the board until the sixth. The Red Sox were able to build up a five-run lead thanks to another three-hit day for Alex Verdugo (his second in a row) and a big three-run shot for Rafael Devers. The bullpen tried their best to blow it in the seventh, but the lead was substantial enough for a very rare series victory for this Red Sox club.
After Wednesday night’s slog of a game in which neither pitcher could get through anything resembling a clean inning and the two clubs used a combined 13 pitchers, it was nice to have a pair of solid major-leaguers on the mound for this one. And they worked their way through the first half of the game in basically the exact opposite fashion as Mike Kickham and Trevor Rogers the night before.
For the Red Sox, it was Nathan Eovaldi coming out for what could be — and this is total speculation on my part, to be clear — his final start of the year before being shut down. After working just a few innings last time out, they were ready to loosen the reins a bit here, but still put him on a limit. The righty made the most of it, though, cruising through much of his start. He did give up a baserunner in the first when he hit Starling Marte on the hand with a pitch, but that was all. He then followed that up with perfect innings in the second and third before giving up one more baserunner in the fourth. That one, however, was due to Xander Bogaerts butchering a transfer from the glove to his hand on a routine play, and thus was ruled an error.
Those of you astutely keeping track at home have put together that Eovaldi had a no-hitter going into the fourth. Generally speaking we (the collective we, as baseball fans) don’t really start watching that until a guy gets through five. That was not the case for Eovaldi, unfortunately, as he got into trouble almost immediately. The no-hit bid was broken up on a leadoff double from Garrett Cooper, who then moved up to third on a Miguel Rojas single. Suddenly, Eovaldi went from a no-hit bid to having runners on the corners with nobody out. He got through the jam, though, thanks to two massive strikeouts and then a very nice play by Bogaerts — making up for his error — up the middle to just barely get Corey Dickerson and end the inning without any runs. It was an impossible close play at first base, and if we’re being honest the review likely showed it was too close to overturn and if the call on the field had been safe, a run likely scores and the inning continues.
That would prove to be the end of Eovaldi’s day, but the offense wasn’t going to give him any support while he was on the mound in a performance reminiscent of Tuesday when Tanner Houck was on the mound. It was also reminiscent, early on at least, of Wednesday’s game with Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers leading off the first with singles, but being stranded from there. The Red Sox then sent just three batters to the plate in each of the next three innings, managing just a J.D. Martinez walk in the fourth that was quickly cancelled out by an inning-ending double play.
Their best chance to this point in the game would come in the bottom half of the fifth after the Marlins squandered their opportunity, with Verdugo getting things going on a one-out base hit. Devers took his place at first after a fielder’s choice, and then a Xander Bogaerts single put runners on the corners with two outs for Martinez. He would draw his second walk of the day, loading things up for Kevin Plawecki. He continued his surprising solid season at the plate, working a great at bat in which he fouled off some tough pitches before ripping a base hit through the left side to give Boston a 2-0 lead. They’d load the bases once again after a Jackie Bradley Jr. walk, bringing Tzu-Wei Lin (who came into the game in the fifth after Yairo Muñoz left with back spasms) to the plate. He couldn’t add to the lead, going down swinging to end the inning instead.
With the lead now in hand, it was up to the bullpen to protect it, and Phillips Valdez got the first call. He did the job, allowing one baserunner but otherwise tossing a perfect sixth.
In the seventh, the Red Sox offense would get back to work, with Christian Arroyo smacking a one-out single that was followed by a base hit from Verdugo, his third hit of the day. That put two on for Devers, who just continues to cook. This time, he got a breaking ball that caught way too much of the zone, and he demolished it out to right-center field for a three-run shot, breaking this game open to a 5-0 score.
Valdez came back out to start the bottom half of the seventh, but that would prove to be a mistake. The righty gave up a leadoff single to Cooper before issuing a walk to Rojas, leaving two on with nobody out as he exited. Jeffrey Springs came in to try and handle the jam, and quickly failed at that. Jorge Alfaro stepped into the box as a pinch hitter, and after hitting a pair of homers on Wednesday he smacked a base hit this time around to give Miami their first run of the night. Chad Wallach was next up, and he continued the rally with a solid double out to left-center field, and just like that it was a three-run game with two in scoring position, nobody out and the top of the order coming back around. Springs finally got the first out with a strikeout of Dickerson, but that ended his night.
Now it was Ryan Weber coming on to try and keep this game in check. The good news is he got a ground out right off the bat. The bad news is it still resulted in a run coming home, cutting the lead down to two. He was able to limit the damage from there, though, coming back from a 3-0 count against Jesús Aguilar for a big strikeout to end the inning.
After the Red Sox failed to add any insurance in the eighth, Ryan Brasier came out for the eighth. He’s been pitching very well of late, but he started this one off by giving up a leadoff single. Fortunately, Brasier didn’t let that snowball and came back with three straight outs, including one K, to get out of the inning with the score still 5-3.
That was still the score when Matt Barnes came on for the ninth to try and close this one out. He didn’t make us sweat this one out, coming through with a clean 1-2-3 inning to give the Red Sox the series victory.
The Red Sox now head back to Fenway to take on a very hot Yankees team for their last meeting of the season. That series kicks off on Friday with Martín Pérez taking on TBD. First pitch is at 7:30 PM ET.