The Red Sox entered that series final at Fenway against the Blue Jays in a bad way. They had given up on the last two over the weekend and their pitching has still been hit hard for about a week. They were desperate to save a division in this four-game set, and more specifically, they were desperate for a solid performance out of their rotation. Enter: Nathan Eovaldi. His command was there all night on his way to 6 2/3 white sleeves. Things got tough at times when Matt Barnes gave Vladimir Guerrero Jr. an equalizer in the ninth, but the Red Sox managed to pull through late in the inning to send everyone home happy.
The Red Sox’s goal heading into Monday’s game was surely Nathan Eovaldi, as the team were desperate for a good start. After tough pitching performances all week at Fenway, the reliever box was tired, the offense was tired of having to call and the fans were tired of watching him every night. They were looking for a change and they needed Eovaldi to do it. Luckily for them, despite the heat from the Blue Jays in this game, the Red Sox starter was up for the challenge this time around.
There really wasn’t much to the right-hander’s success on Monday as he really made everything work 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 got through the frame without allowing a baserunner and then did the same in the second and third.
After the perfect race the first time in order, he got the lead man in Marcus Semien to do it 10 in a row from the start. But Eovaldi’s race for perfection would end there. Bo Bichette came to stop the run, hitting a centerfield goal to give Toronto their first scorer of the night. To make matters worse, he immediately stole the second. But Eovaldi was able to get around the problem, getting a big strikeout against Vladimir Guerrero Jr. A second hitter would walk around, but Eovaldi failed both and managed to come out of the inning with the shutout in hand.
It would do the same with another perfect frame in the fifth as well. He seemed to get stronger as the night wore on, as the sixth was also perfect, with a pair of strikeouts thrown into the mix. He was now six scoreless innings and had only thrown 76 shots in the process.
The bad news was that the offense was having a lot of problems with Blue Jays rookie Alek Manoah. They couldn’t do anything in the first two sets, descending in order in the first before getting a single but nothing else in the second.
The third would see a bit more action and the first sign of life on either side at this point in the game. Marwin Gonzalez started the round with a single in the infield after Semien took a good dip down the middle but didn’t. had no chance to complete the game. The Red Sox came back with two quick strikeouts after that, but Alex Verdugo then took advantage of the dimensions of Fenway Park. He kicked a ball into left field, but it was barely against the wall, the ball hitting the top of the glove belonging to a leaping Lourdes Gurriel. Kiké Hernández, who had taken over at first base after choosing a defensive player, flew on contact and came around to score and give Boston the 1-0 lead.
That’s all they got in this inning, and Manoah came back immediately to stop them in the fourth with a three-batting inning, then working around a single with an out in the fifth. The rookie followed that up by taking the side out in the sixth, and the pitcher’s duel was still going on in the seventh.
Eovaldi was back to start this round, and he’s had the most problems he’s found all night. Toronto was on him early in the inning, with Guerrero hitting a single down center field on the first pitch of the inning before Teoscar Hernández landed his own hit on the second pitch he saw. That put in two without any withdrawals, and Eovaldi was on the ropes for the first time from this start. However, he got exactly what he needed in the next batting game, with Randal Grichuk relying on double play.
It was two huge strikeouts, but there was one more to go with Guerrero in third. Alex Cora picked up Eovaldi after the double play and asked Josh Taylor to try to complete the round. He had to face Red Sox killer Rowdy Tellez, but Taylor won the battle with a huge strikeout to exit the race tied at 90 feet.
At the end of the round, the Red Sox managed to get the Blue Jays in with (sort of) an old friend Joel Payamps. Nothing has changed, however, and they’ve gone down in order.
With the lead still protecting at one point, it was Josh Tayor who remained in the game to start the set. Adam Ottavino was warming up the entire sleeve just in case, but Taylor didn’t need help. The southpaw punctuated a perfect inning with a strikeout at the end of the inning, and the lead was still intact.
After the offense added no insurance, it was Matt Barnes who tried to hold onto the 1-0 lead. The rain was starting to fall 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 did not win the showdown. He snagged a curved ball in the lower third of the area, and the Blue Jays slugger didn’t miss it. It was definitely the kind of shot where no one even bothered to move on contact, and it tied the game by one point apiece. Barnes recovered with a strikeout, but now the offense had to show a little more life to win this game.
They had the part of the upcoming order that they wanted to see, with Verdugo in mind. He was able to enter base to start the round when Cavan Biggio was unable to make a slippery stop in the shift on a play that was deemed a single in the field. He would quickly move up to second on a JD Martinez hit, putting the winning point in scoring position. A few hitters later, Rafael Devers came over and finished it. He put one on the Monster in left center field, allowing Verdugo to come back easily and score.
The 2-1 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 40-27.
The Red Sox are now heading south for a few days to take on the Braves. This quick two-game set kicks off tomorrow night with Eduardo Rodriguez taking on Tucker Davidson, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:20 p.m. ET.