Eovaldi comes up aces in Red Sox pitching debut
BOSTON (AP) – Nathan Eovaldi is ready to be back in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. He knows he’ll have the fans on his side in Fenway Park, too, especially after his debut with Boston.
Eovaldi pitched seven impressive innings, J.D. Martinez drove in all three runs to increase his major league-leading RBI total to 89 and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 3-0 on Sunday for their 18th victory in 22 games.
“What a great way to start his career with the Red Sox,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “People can now talk about how good he is and how he’s going to help us out.”
Acquired in trade from Tampa Bay for a minor league pitcher on Wednesday, Eovaldi (4-4) gave up four hits, striking out five without issuing a walk. Matt Barnes pitched the eighth and Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his 33rd save.
Eovaldi was sharp from the start, relying on a 95-97 mph fast ball with a slider and curve. The 28-year-old righty was hammered two starts ago by the Twins, giving up eight runs and nine hits in 2-2/3 innings.
“I feel like my emotions were under control,” he said. “I try not to put any extra pressure on myself. It was nice pitching with the crowd behind me today instead of against me.”
Eovaldi was with New York for two seasons before signing with the Rays prior to 2017. He missed that year following
Tommy John surgery.
His next start will be part of a four-game series against the longtime rivals next week.
“Extremely efficient. I mean, I wish we would’ve seen the Eovaldi we saw a couple weeks ago before the break,” said Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, who was running the team with manager and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor in Cooperstown, N.Y. for induction ceremonies.
Martinez had a double, single and walk, and Andrew Benintendi added two hits and a walk for the Red Sox. The AL East-leaders improved to a majors’ best 74-33 by winning three of four in the weekend series.
The Twins finished 4-6 on a 10-game trip that saw them give up a bit on making the playoffs after they traded two players Friday night.
Jose Berrios (10-8) was in trouble every inning, giving up three runs on nine hits with three walks and five strikeouts in 4 2/3 in his first career start in Fenway.
“I couldn’t locate my pitches early on, but my mentality was to keep attacking the hitters,” he said.
Martinez’s RBI double made it 2-0 in the second. In the fourth, Benintendi doubled off the Green Monster and Martinez followed with a hard single halfway up the left-field wall.
Cora was visibly upset at the end of his postgame press conference, talking about the death of University of Miami pitching coach J.D. Arteaga’s son, Ari. The Miami Herald reported the 16-year-old was killed in a single-car crash Saturday night.
“Today was a tough day for us as a family,” he said. “J.D., he’s my best friend. They adopted me, basically, when I went to Miami. . It puts everything in perspective. We get caught up in this madness, the pennate race, the AL East, the Red Sox and the Yankees, but in the end, it’s just baseball.”
GOTTA SEE IT
Red Sox CF Jackie Bradley Jr., running at full speed, made a backhanded catch on Bobby Wilson’s liner into the left-center gap. After the catch, he tumbled over at the edge of the warning track and slid on his back hard into the left-field wall.
He got a standing ovation and when he headed to the dugout at the end of the inning, his teammates were lined up waiting to give him ‘High 5s.’
“Once I got closer, I thought I had a pretty good chance,” he said. “I hit (the wall) a lot harder than I thought I did after looking at the replay. I’m sure I’ll have a few bumps and bruises.”
LOOK WHERE I’M PLAYING
Back-up catcher and infielder Blake Swihart made his first career start at third. He even started a nifty DP in the fourth, snagging a hard grounder as he went to his knees, got up and turned the 5-4-3 play.
FUN UNDER THE SUN
The Red Sox improved to a majors’ best 26-5 in day games, and they’ve won 20 of their last 22.
Red Sox: Placed 3B Rafael Devers on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring he sustained running the bases a night earlier.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (0-0, 5.40 ERA) makes his second start of the season after returning from surgery on the middle finger of his pitching hand in February as Minnesota opens a three-game series Monday at home against AL Central-leading Cleveland.
Red Sox: LHP David Price (11-6, 4.17) is set to start Monday’s opener of a two-game interleague series at Fenway, facing Phillies’ righty Aaron Nola (12-3, 2.42). Price went a scoreless inning in his last start Wednesday in Baltimore before the game was rained out.