Nathan Eovaldi dominates Yankees as Red Sox stretch AL East lead

ByColey Harvey via ESPN logo
Sunday, August 5, 2018
ESPN

BOSTON -- For a second straight day, a Boston Red Sox starter owned the New York Yankees' suddenly inept offense.

This time, it was the recently acquired Nathan Eovaldi, whose eight-inning three-hitter helped lead the Red Sox to a 4-1 win Saturday. The victory also stretched Boston's American League East lead over the Yankees to 8 games.

"He is who we thought he was going to be," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "His stuff is probably one of the best in the big leagues, and the fact that he can use his stuff on the edges of the strike zone is impressive."

Eovaldi's impressive performance came on the heels of Rick Porcello's 86-pitch, complete-game one-hitter Friday. Boston also won that game 4-1, with Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar providing New York's only jolt of offense with a third-inning home run.

"They've done a really good job the last two days, both Eovaldi and Porcello, of attacking the strike zone early, getting ahead in the count a lot," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "So that makes it difficult when they're dictating counts to really run deep counts."

Eovaldi's cutter was his big weapon Saturday. Nearly half of the 93 pitches he threw were cut fastballs, and according to those who faced him, he threw them at varying speeds and spots in the strike zone.

"He added and subtracted on it," said Yankees right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who played with Eovaldi while with the Marlins. "He threw some at 90, others at 95, and just put different depths on it."

The changing speeds and strike zone locations on the cutter caused a lot of "late decisions" from Yankees hitters, Cora said. He could tell they had trouble deciding whether to swing or take the lively moving fastballs.

Along with a stint in Miami, Eovaldi also pitched for the Yankees in 2015 and '16, before spending the first half of this season in Tampa Bay. A trade-deadline addition, Eovaldi has now had two dominating starts for Boston since being acquired from the Rays. Last Sunday, he threw seven scoreless and allowed just four hits against Minnesota.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Eovaldi is the third pitcher in Red Sox history to begin his Boston career with consecutive scoreless starts of seven-plus innings pitched. Boo Ferriss did it in spring 1945, and Buck O'Brien did it in September 1911.

"He's been huge for us since he came over," Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland said during a postgame interview with NESN. "Both starts, he's just in complete control of the game. He's ahead of guys, he's working in and out. The cutter off the heater is pretty nasty.

"Glad he's on our team, because he's really been great so far."

What hasn't been great in the past two games are the Yankees' bats; New York has combined for just six hits.

"We're an elite group. Obviously having a couple, few key pieces out [in the injured Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez], we've got to do a better job," Boone said. "You definitely tip your cap to Porcello and Eovaldi, being able to shut us down. But we've got to find a way, too."

Saturday's loss was the Yankees' fourth straight. It's the first time all season they have lost that many consecutive games, making the Red Sox the only major league team now to have not yet amassed a losing streak of at least four games this season.

Coincidentally, this is also the second straight year the Yankees have dropped their first four games in August. In 2017, they lost two to Detroit and another two to Cleveland. To get back on track for the rest of this season, there's only one thing they can do.

"Keep focus," Stanton said. "Understand it's just a bad stretch and not hold our heads down and keep pushing. That's all we can do. We still have a couple months left."

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