BOSTON — Nathan Eovaldi did what Gerrit Cole could not and pitched his team into the American League Division Series.
In a battle of hard-throwing right-handers, it was the Red Sox’s Eovaldi who lived up to the moment on the way to a 6-2 win over Cole and the Yankees in the AL wild-card game Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Eovaldi gave up just one run and four hits over 5 ¹/₃ innings while striking out eight and walking none. He cruised through five dominant, shutout innings before getting an early hook in the sixth — after just 71 pitches, with the only blemish being an Anthony Rizzo home run to lead off the sixth inning.
It was a complete reversal from the last time the Yankees faced Eovaldi just 11 days ago. On Sept. 24 at Fenway, the Yankees shelled him for seven runs on seven hits, chasing Eovaldi after 2 ²/₃ innings. That night — an 8-3 win that started the Yankees’ sweep over the Sox that catapulted them into Tuesday — Eovaldi issued two free passes and did not strike out a single batter.
But Eovaldi’s recent clunker against the Yankees did not concern Red Sox manager Alex Cora heading into the game.
“I think the good ones, they struggle,” Cora said. “You just go with the best that you have. And they’re going with their best [Cole]. And we’re going with our best right now. So obviously you learn a few things and you make adjustments. That’s the whole thing about playing them not too long ago.”
Cole also pitched in that Sept. 24 game and tossed five shutout innings before giving up a three-run homer in the sixth. On Tuesday, he gave up two homers in two-plus innings before getting pulled with a 3-0 deficit.
Eovaldi, meanwhile, returned to being a thorn in the Yankees’ side. Entering the game, he owned a 3.03 ERA in 68 ¹/₃ innings with Boston against his former team. That included a playoff game in 2018, when he delivered seven innings of one-run ball against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS.