The Red Sox came into this series finale at Fenway against the Blue Jays in a bad way. They had dropped the last two over the weekend, and their pitching has been consistently hit hard for the last week or so. They were desperate to salvage a split in this four-game set, and more specifically were desperate for a strong performance out of their rotation. Enter: Nathan Eovaldi. His command was on point all night long en route to 6 2⁄3 shutout innings. Things were complicated some when Matt Barnes gave up a game-tying homer to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the ninth, but the Red Sox were able to walk it off in the bottom of the inning to send everyone home happy.
The focus for the Red Sox coming into Monday’s game was surely Nathan Eovaldi, as the team was desperate for a strong start. After some rough pitching performances all week at Fenway, the bullpen was tired, the offense was tired of having to keep up, and the fans were tired of watching it on a nightly basis. They were looking for a change, and they needed Eovaldi to do it. Fortuantely for them, despite how red-hot the Blue Jays were coming into this game, the Red Sox starter this time was up for the task.
There really wasn’t much to the righty’s success on Monday, as he really just had it all working and did a good job around the edges of the zone. He got a little help from Rafael Devers defensively in the first, but either way he made it through the frame without allowing a baserunner, then did the same in the second and third.
After the perfect run the first time through the order, he got the leadoff man in Marcus Semien to make it 10 in a row off the bat. But Eovaldi’s run at perfection would stop there. Bo Bichette came through to stop that run, smacking a base hit into center field to give Toronto their first baserunner of the evening. To make matters worse, he immediately stole second. But Eovaldi was able to work around it, getting a big strikeout against Vladimir Guerrero Jr. A second batter would reach on a walk, but Eovaldi stranded both and managed to get out of the inning with the shutout in hand.
He’d do the same with another perfect frame in the fifth as well. He appeared to be getting stronger as the night went on, as the sixth was perfect as well, with a pair of strikeouts thrown into the mix. He was now through six scoreless innings, and had thrown only 76 pitches in the process.
The bad news is that the offense was having plenty of issues in its own right with Blue Jays rookie Alek Manoah. They couldn’t get anything going in the first couple of innings, going down in order in the first before getting a single but nothing else in the second.
The third would see a little bit more action, and the first sign of life from either side to that point in the game. Marwin Gonzalez started the inning with an infield single after Semien made a nice diving stop up the middle but had no chance to complete the play. The Red Sox came back with two quick outs after that, but then Alex Verdugo benefited from Fenway Park’s dimensions. He hit a fly ball out to left field, but it just barely was up against the wall, with the ball hitting off the top of the glove belonging to a leaping Lourdes Gurriel. Kiké Hernández, who had taken over at first base after a fielder’s choice, was flying on contact and came all the way around to score and give Boston the 1-0 lead.
That was all they’d get in that inning, and Manoah went right back to shutting them down in the fourth with a three-batter inning, and then working around a one-out single in the fifth. The rookie followed that up by striking out the side in the sixth, and the pitcher’s duel was still on going into the seventh.
Eovaldi was back out to start that inning, and he got into the most trouble he found all night. Toronto was on him early in the inning, with Guerrero poking a single into center field on the first pitch of the inning before Teoscar Hernández came through with a base hit of his own on the second pitch he saw. That put two on with nobody out, and Eovaldi was on the ropes for the first time in this start. He got exactly what he needed in the next at bat, though, with Randal Grichuk grounding into a double play.
Those were two huge outs, but there was still one left to go with Guerrero standing on third. Alex Cora came and got Eovaldi after the double play, and called upon Josh Taylor to try and finish off the inning. He had to face Red Sox Killer Rowdy Tellez, but Taylor won the battle with a huge strikeout to leave the tying run 90 feet away.
In the bottom of the inning, the Red Sox were able to get the Blue Jays bullpen in with (kind of) old friend Joel Payamps coming in. Nothing changed, though, and they went down in order.
With the lead to protect still standing at one run, it was Josh Tayor remaining in the game to start the inning. Adam Ottavino was warming the whole inning just in case, but Taylor didn’t need the help. The southpaw punctuated a perfect inning with an inning-ending strikeout, and the lead was still intact.
After the offense failed to add any insurance, it was Matt Barnes trying to preserve the 1-0 lead. There was rain starting to pour down at this point to add a little more stress to the mix, but Barnes got two strikeouts to start the inning and set up a showdown with Guerrero. Barnes didn’t win the showdown. He hung a curveball in the bottom third of the zone, and the Blue Jays slugger did not miss it. It was the kind of no doubt shot where no one even bothered to move on contact, and it tied the game at one run apiece. Barnes recovered with a strikeout, but now the offense needed to show some more life to win this game.
They had the part of the order coming up that they’d want to see, with Verdugo leading things off. He was able to get on base to start off the inning when Cavan Biggio couldn’t make a sliding stop in the shift on a play that was ruled an infield single. He’d quickly move up to second on a base hit from J.D. Martinez, putting the winning run in scoring position. A couple batters later, Rafael Devers came up and finished it. He put one off the Monster in left-center field, allowing Verdugo to easily come around and score.
The 2-1 walk off victory pushed the Red Sox record to 40-27.
The Red Sox now head down south for a couple of days to take on the Braves. That quick two-game set will start tomorrow night with Eduardo Rodriguez taking on Tucker Davidson, with first pitch set for 7:20 PM ET.