Top-5 Red Sox pitching performances from the 2021 season

Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Red Sox ALCS Nathan Eovaldi
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 10: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after forcing out Wander Franco #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning during Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park on October 10, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Nathan Eovaldi’s gem leads Red Sox over Rays

Reeling from three consecutive losses and on the verge of being swept by the division-leading Rays, the Red Sox turned to their ace to stop the bleeding in a pivotal September series as they fought to stay alive in the Wild Card race.

The Cy Young candidate padded his resume with a dominant performance, blanking the second-highest scoring offense in the majors over seven scoreless innings. Eovaldi uncharacteristically walked a pair of batters but allowed only three hits and struck out eight.

With his pitch count approaching triple-digits, Eovaldi was removed after seven innings in a tie game. Garrett Richards nearly spoiled Eovaldi’s gem by giving up a run in the eighth but the Red Sox rallied behind a two-run homer from Hunter Renfroe in the bottom of the inning.

Boston would win the pitching duel 2-1. While Eovaldi technically didn’t factor into the decision, he was clearly a significant factor in this much-needed victory.

This was one of seven appearances this season in which Eovaldi lasted at least seven innings. This game against the Rays was the third time he had lasted that long without allowing a run. What sets this outing apart is the qualify of the opponent and the narrow margin on the scoreboard. Boston beat up on losing teams as Eovaldi cruised to victory in the previous seven-scoreless inning outings.

Eovaldi had two other dominant seven-inning performances against the Rays this year, including one in August when he matched his season-high with 10 strikeouts. He allowed one earned run in each of those starts and notched the win in both games. Boston outscored Tampa Bay by a total of 19 runs between those previous outings. Despite not getting credit for the victory, holding the Rays scoreless in a tightly contested game made the September start more meaningful.