Nathan Eovaldi, Red Sox continue wild-card push vs. Indians

MLB Baseball

Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi hopes to replicate his success from his last outing when he faces the Indians for a second straight start as Boston hosts Cleveland to open a three-game series Friday night.

Eovaldi (10-8, 3.71 ERA) tossed 5 1/3 innings of two-run, six-hit ball, with no walks and seven strikeouts in Boston’s 5-3, 10-inning victory at Cleveland on Saturday. The All-Star will look to be more efficient this time out after reaching 97 pitches in the sixth inning before being pulled.

The Red Sox (77-59) took two of three games against the Indians last weekend. Boston won the series opener 4-3 on Aug. 27 before prevailing the following day in the game Eovaldi started. The Indians avoided a sweep with a 7-5 win on Sunday.

The loss in the finale began a three-game skid for Boston, which dropped the first two of four against American League East-leading Tampa Bay on Monday and Tuesday. However, the Red Sox held on to beat the Rays 3-2 on Wednesday and salvaged a split with a 4-0 win on Thursday.

Boston finished 4-3 on its road trip despite a COVID-19 outbreak that saw eight players and two coaches test positive since Aug. 27. The Red Sox enter Friday’s game with a two-game lead over the Oakland A’s for the second AL wild-card spot.

“It feels good to scratch out two at the end (of the trip). It’s been a crazy week, tough week personnel-wise,” Red Sox first baseman Bobby Dalbec told NESN. “We’ve just got to weather the storm.”

Eovaldi has won just once in his past four starts despite pitching to a 1.85 ERA with 30 strikeouts over 24 1/3 innings. In his career against the Indians, he is 3-2 with a 3.30 ERA in seven career appearances (four starts).

Cleveland hitters have a combined .292 batting average versus Eovaldi. Franmil Reyes is the only current Indians batter who has taken Eovaldi deep, clubbing a solo home run in the second inning on Saturday.

Cleveland (67-64) has not lost since dropping the series finale to Boston, outscoring the Royals 16-7 in a three-game sweep at Kansas City to run the winning streak to four games. The Indians capped the series with a 4-2 victory Thursday.

Cal Quantrill (4-2, 2.93 ERA) is also looking for more of the same against the Red Sox after a quality start in his first career outing against them last Saturday. The right-hander allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts in seven innings.

Quantrill has had a remarkable run since recording his last loss on June 6 at Baltimore. The 26-year-old has gone 4-0 with a 2.75 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 85 innings over his last 16 games, including 15 starts.

“A big thing is confidence,” Indians catcher Austin Hedges said of Quantrill’s run of success. “I think the kid goes out there every single day knowing that he can get anybody out at any time. When you have confidence in your stuff, that helps a lot.”

Cleveland enters the weekend series trailing the Red Sox by 7 1/2 games in the wild-card race.

–Field Level Media

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