The Red Sox continue to win games when they, as in the organization, are probably better off losing. The players aren’t, and shouldn’t be, thinking this way, though, and they are playing good baseball. As I said last night, it’s tough to be mad when the production is coming from guys who are also important to the organization. In Wednesday night’s case, the main man was Nathan Eovaldi, who got the start in what was the last appearance he’ll make in 2020. The righty ended the year in style with six scoreless innings that included eight strikeouts and only one walk. The offense, meanwhile, provided a well-rounded attack led by Kevin Plawecki, who smacked three hits including a triple. Add it all up and it was a 9-1 blowout win.
We’re at the point of the season where we are seeing the last starts from members of the Red Sox rotation. If we’re being honest, for most of the season that wouldn’t have really meant much, but we’ve seen actual, real-life competence of late. We’ve seen general competence from Nathan Eovaldi all year, at least when he’s been healthy, and he’s the first to make his last start. The righty has pitched very well against Baltimore in previous meetings this summer, so this was a real chance to end things on a high note and carry some momentum into 2021.
He succeeded. It wasn’t a perfect start from the Red Sox righty, to be fair, as he did give up his share of its. However, he came out firing with big velocity, kept his control and was able to make big pitches when trouble did arise. As I said, he came out firing, and that helped him get two strikeouts right off the bat to start off this game. Baltimore did avoid the 1-2-3 inning, but Eovaldi got a third strikeout to finish a scoreless first inning.
The second was probably the closest to real damage in this game against Eovaldi, starting with a one-out base hit from Austin Hays. Eovaldi got a second out, but then Pat Valaika smacked one off the Monster in left-center field. It looked like it would be a double that put Hays at third base, but, as he is wont to do, Jackie Bradley Jr. ruined those plans. He perfectly played the ball off the wall and cut down Valaika at second base to end the inning. The play was originally called a double, but replay corrected the misjudgment.
From there, Eovaldi had a couple of three-batter innings to follow up on that second. The third was a traditional 1-2-3 inning, with two more strikeouts to boot, before getting a double play in the fourth to cancel out a leadoff base hit. Eovaldi found himself in a little more trouble in the fifth, too, as he gave up two hits there to put two on with just one out, but once again he got the grounder he needed. Ramon Urías grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
That was followed by another frame with just a single, and that marked the end of Eovaldi’s night, and season. In the end, he finished things out with six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and only one walk while working around seven hits.
Meanwhile, the offense frankly put the game away early. They got started immediately with Alex Verdugo slapping a double off the Monster in the first at bat in the bottom of the first, and eventually Jackie Bradley Jr. stepped up to the plate with two on and two out. He continued his hot streak, ripping a base hit into right field to make it a 1-0 game. Kevin Plawecki followed that up with a single of his own, and it was a 2-0 lead after one.
The second was quiet, but the third was extremely loud and where the game was won. It started off with a Xander Bogaerts base hit, and then J.D. Martinez continued to look like himself as he has for the last few days. This time, he smashed a double out to straightaway center field, giving the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. A couple batters later, Plawecki hit a line drive out to right field. Hays tried to make the diving catch but came up empty, giving the Red Sox catcher a triple and the team a four-run lead. With two outs, Michael Chavis had an RBI double, and then the Red Sox drew a couple of walks. That brought Devers to the plate with the bases full, and not only was he looking to open up the game but also to snap out of a sudden funk that started on Tuesday. He accomplished that with a bases-clearing double, and just like that it was an eight-run game.
The offense didn’t do much of anything for the next few innings, leading to the 8-0 score holding into the seventh. Mike Kickham came in out of the bullpen for Boston to start that inning, and immediately the shutout was over. The southpaw tried to get Hays with a two-strike slider, but left it up in the zone over the middle of the plate, and Hays proceeded to crush it into the Monster Seats to make it an 8-1 game. Kickham did recover and limit the damage in the inning to just the one run.
After the Red Sox added one back in the bottom of the inning when Bradley came in to score on a wild pitch, Kickham came back out for the eighth. He got one out, but also loaded the bases, forcing Jeffrey Springs into the game to try and end the jam and prevent the Orioles from getting back into this. He got the job done, coming through with a strikeout and a ground out to keep Baltimore off the board completely in the inning.
That left just one more inning, and it was Springs getting the call there as well. He did give up a base hit, but beyond that it was a clean inning as the lefty continues to pitch extremely well to end the year. It also closed on Boston’s 22nd victory of the year.
The Red Sox will go for a sweep of the Orioles tomorrow night with Martín Pérez taking on Alex Cobb. First pitch is set for 7:30 PM ET.