BOSTON (CBS) — As the ALCS shifts to Houston tied up at a game apiece, the Boston Red Sox will turn to one of their more-reliable starters for Tuesday night’s Game 3.
No, it’s not Chris Sale, who is in the hospital with a stomach issue. And it’s not David Price, who received a standing ovation for just making it to the fifth inning in Sunday’s Game 2.
Alex Cora is once again counting on Nathan Eovaldi to deliver when the Red Sox need a win. The righty will take the mound looking to give Boston their first lead in the series, which is of the utmost importance with the next three games in Houston.
Eovaldi delivered for Boston against the Yankees in the ALDS, giving them seven innings of one-run ball in Game 3 in New York. As the Red Sox bats exploded for 16 runs, Eovaldi needed just 97 pitches to do his job, striking out five Yankees along the way.
The righty was a noted Yankees killer when he was acquired from Tampa Bay ahead of the trade deadline, but will now have his hands full with an even more potent Astros lineup. Eovaldi, a Houston native, made just one start against the Astros during the regular season, giving up four runs off seven hits (including four homers!) at Minute Maid Park back in June as a member of the Rays.
Some of Houston’s bats have hit Eovaldi pretty hard in their limited experience against him. Second baseman and 2017 MVP Jose Altuve is 5-for-15 with a pair of homers in his career against Eovaldi, with both of those blasts coming in June. Evan Gattis has the most experience against Eovaldi, with six hits in 22 at-bats. One of those six hits left the yard.
George Springer and Alex Bregman also homered against Eovaldi earlier this season, which is the extent of their success against the Boston starter. Springer is just 1-for-11 for his career against Eovaldi, while Bregman is 1-for-3. So come Tuesday evening, it’s going to be imperative for Eovaldi to keep the ball in the ballpark.
He’s coming off six days rest, which is great news for both Eovaldi and the Sox. He’s made five such starts this season, including last week’s gem against the Yankees, and is 3-0 with a 0.56 ERA in those outings. He’s been so good, that his ERA actually went up when he gave up that lone run to the Yankees. When given extra rest this season, Eovaldi has allowed just two earned runs in 32 innings, holding opposing hitters to a .155 average. He’s struck out 27 and walked just three in those outings.
The Red Sox have counted on Eovaldi to come through big on the road before, and the righty delivered. He’ll have a great opportunity to do so again Tuesday night, and the Red Sox may even spot him another double-digit lead. In Houston, they have a Dallas problem, with Game 3 start Dallas Keuchel looking less and less like his Cy Young self with every start.
The lefty had a 4.65 ERA in September and only lasted five innings in Houston’s ALDS-clinching win over Cleveland last week. He surrendered two runs off four hits, including a solo homer to Francisco Lindor with two outs in the fifth.
The Sox hit Keuchel hard just last month, scoring five runs off nine hits in a 6-5 victory at Fenway Park on Sept. 9. J.D. Martinez crushed a three-run homer off him in the win, and is one of five Red Sox players to take him deep in their careers, joining Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Ian Kinsler and Steve Pearce. Overall, Keuchel has a 9.75 ERA in his career against Boston.
There are some big question marks in regards to the Red Sox rotation going forward in the series. But for now, the team will rely on Eovaldi to once again come through when they need a win on the road.