Nathan Eovaldi shines again in another Red Sox loss
Once again Nathan Eovaldi gave everything he had in the tank to help the Red Sox earn a victory but the team was unable to hold up their end of the bargain. There was something else that will hang over this start, though, and that’s the homer. Unlike in 2021, this season has seen Nasty Nate give up the long ball on several occasions, and it’s eventually going to hurt him.
What we saw from Eovaldi last night was something I don’t think any of us expected. For the first two weeks of the season pitchers all over the league have been held to a short leash in their starts due to the shortened spring training. On a few occasions we’ve seen guys go deep into games if the situation calls for it, and last night the stars aligned.
Nasty Nate made it through seven innings and it was in big thanks to his low pitch count. It was a sight to be seen as he only needed 72 pitches to get through that workload, absolute beauty. Again, despite his efforts, the offense was an absolute joke once again, even squandering a bases-loaded opportunity in the second inning. But the Jays did do something that other teams have been able to do all season as well, hit the long ball.
Luckily, Toronto only punished Nate for a pair of solo shots so the damage wasn’t too much, but with the Red Sox bats ice-cold those two runs felt like eight. It is a bit concerning that he’s already seven homers in 2022, which leads all of baseball, considering he only gave up 15 in all of 2021. Being halfway to a season total just two weeks into the season is not a very fun thing when it’s a big old negative like that.
Many, myself included, expected him to continue right into the eighth inning but acting manager Will Venable pulled him for Matt Strahm. I understand on the surface not wanting to leave your best arm on the mound too long in an April start, but the Red Sox needed every weapon last night and Nate was the best they had. Venable’s reasoning also made zero sense as he said they didn’t want the righty to face the top of the order, problem is, he would’ve faced the 7-8-9 hitters.
"“The way we were looking at it is that we weren’t going to have him face the top of the order again and it was a really good pocket for Strahm,” Venable told reporters. “We kind of highlighted that spot going on. Nate gave us everything we needed tonight and, regardless of pitch count, it was just a really good spot for Strahm there.”"
This wasn’t the first head-scratching decision during the Venable Era as there have been plenty of chances to win recent games had the team gone another route than what they chose. I said this on Twitter last night and still believe it, Venable is most likely following Alex Cora’s gameplan while adapting it to real-life situations.
But at the end of the day, he needs to lean more toward what is happening in front of his eyes and not what was pre-planned ahead of the game. Eovaldi was cruising and other than those solo homers he barely broke a sweat. For me, I want him to mow down that bottom of the order and then let the bullpen come in fresh against the top.
Look no further than Sunday afternoon when Tanner Houck eventually entered the game. We all knew that he was going to piggyback with Rich Hill and it was just a matter of time before he entered the game. Obviously, Hill didn’t get deep into the game but that shouldn’t have prevented the Red Sox from calling on Houck to pick up the slack.
Instead, Venable waited until the Red Sox had blown their lead to call upon the master of the slider. Going with Phillips Valdez and Ryan Brasier wound up being a mistake Boston would damn near instantly regret. Had he gone to Houck in the fifth when Hill’s day was done as we all had expected, things may have gone much differently.
Considering Tanner wasn’t able to make the trip to Toronto due to his vaccination status, they easily could’ve called him in then and let him run until the eighth or ninth inning. There was no point in bringing him in once the game had flipped to the other side of the street, especially with how poor Boston’s offense has been performing.
Beyond pulling Nate too early, bringing in Tanner too late, and some of the riskier choices out of the pen, there are also some of the batting choices. Last night I was begging for anyone else but Kevin Plawecki to hit during a late rally. While I’m a massive Plawecki fan he’s been ice-cold and I wanted someone a bit more reliable. He would lay down a fantastic sac bunt that would eventually lead to runs.
Also, I don’t need to see Travis Shaw anymore. He has done absolutely nothing in his appearances this season and with the rosters about to get cut, he is a prime candidate to see the chopping block. He hasn’t notched a single hit in 17 at-bats and yet he’s been in the lineup and used as a pinch-hitter lately. The Mayor of Ding-Dong City is a fan favorite but he offers nothing to this team, time to trim the fat.
You can’t win the division in April but you can sure as hell lose it. By the end of the month, the Red Sox will have 15 games against the AL East and as it stands right now they’re 3-7 against their rivals and the optimism is at an all-time low.
The worst part is, they were either in a spot to win all of these games or were at least competitive for much of them and poor decisions took the train off the track. I don’t know how much is the lack of AC in the dugout or just the pressure mounting but Boston needs to get back to the basics and play and manage to their strengths.