Nathan Eovaldi shines as Red Sox go dim in Opening Day loss
Today was supposed to be a day of excitement as the Boston Red Sox were once again at Fenway Park and fans were back in the stands. A new season, a chance at October baseball, a shot at redemption for the last two seasons. Sadly, none of that came to fruition as the team was absolutely dominated by Baltimore ace John Means while being unable to keep the mistakes to a minimum. Means wasn’t the only pitcher on his A-game today as Nathan Eovaldi went out and gave everything he had to give his team what they needed.
We all know that we can’t judge an entire team and predict an entire season based on one game, let alone one played in the freezing cold such as today. But if we’re to take anything away from today it’s that this team is still far away from being anything resembling a contender.
The only positive to come out of today was the pitching performance from Eovaldi. Nasty Nate may not have gone as late as some would have liked but he more than did enough to deliver the Red Sox a win, and in the end, he’s the one that got pegged with the loss.
For the second year in a row, Eovaldi had to step in for Eduardo Rodriguez to make the Opening Day start for Boston. And for the second year in a row, he did the damn thing. The difference between 2020 and 2021 was that he actually got run support last year while this year he was left hanging by his lineup.
BSI’s Sean Penney pointed out just how miserable to Red Sox offense was today and that many in the lineup were still trying to find their stride when Opening Day came, but today was historically bad. Boston hasn’t been shutout on Opening Day since 1976. Just let that sink in for a minute, This is the same squad that put up 13 on this very same Orioles team on 2020’s Opening Day. Not good, friends.
At the end of the day, Evo finished his efforts with a 5.1/4H/1ER/1BB/4K line and it should’ve been more than enough for Boston to get the W. As I said it wasn’t just the offense that let him down, today’s defensive efforts may have been some of the worst I’ve seen in recent times. For instance, the run that was charged against him was of his own accord as he put him on base, but the Sox defense and relief efforts from Matt Andriese let him cross the plate.
Rafael Devers continues to be a liability in the field and had multiple miscommunications with Xander Bogaerts. Kiké Hernández started the game hot with a lead-off single but would soon get picked off and then made the error that would allow the Orioles to open the game up. The outfield was also strong to open the tilt but mistimings by Hunter Renfroe and Alex Verdugo would also make life easy for the O’s to get runners in traffic.
While some of these things happened after Eovaldi was out of the game they were just more lines to a story that was already being written by the Red Sox. Bad throws, poor timing, miscommunications in the field, and questioning everything at the plate. Outside of Evo, it felt like today’s game was like a set of negative dominoes falling one by one. The only player that actually showed competency in the field was Bobby Dalbec, and that poor guy earned a few steak dinners with the saves he was making today.
It’s disheartening to see a guy pitch so well just to get nothing in return from the rest of his squad. Again, it’s just one game and we’ve got 161 more of these bad boys to work through, but Alex Cora needs to have a serious talk with his guys. This level of play and these mistakes can’t be made on a nightly basis or else we’re going to be right back to 2020. Despite all of the headaches from today’s game, again, Eovaldi shined bright at Fenway Park.
It didn’t take long to see that he had some of his best stuff as he had his patented leg kick working right away. Home plate umpire Joe West had a very curious strike zone which didn’t help Evo’s pitch count at times, but he still went and did the damn thing today. With Eduardo Rodriguez likely coming back next week, Nate will be bumped back down to his two slot in the rotation. If he can continue to dish out starts like he did today, he’ll be one hell of a weapon for Cora in the rotation.
Today was all about a rebirth of sorts for the Red Sox and this new campaign but it wasn’t meant to be on Opening Day. I’m sure nerves were flying and the air was more than chilly, both of which probably played a part in this afternoon’s mess. But the real shame is that Eovaldi has to walk away from Fenway with an “L” next to his name despite pitching an absolute gem. Hopefully, in his next start, he can get that record level and get the momentum cooking.