Nate Eovaldi remains on track to start Game 6 of the ALCS in Houston on Friday night after throwing 24 pitches in the ninth inning of Game 4 on Tuesday.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora called on Eovaldi in a 2-2 game, hoping his ace would hold the Astros there. But he allowed a two-out RBI single by Jason Castro, which opened the gates for a seven-run inning and a 9-2 loss.
Cora would prefer not to use his starters in relief unless it’s with a chance to close out the game. But Tuesday was a perfect spot, in his estimation.
“It’s different on the road than at home,” Cora said Wednesday before a 9-1 loss in Game 5. “Just get a shutdown inning in the ninth and give us a chance to win the game.”
It nearly worked, but Eovaldi didn’t get the third out.
“He was a little bit off, too, with his mechanics, which is something that we noticed right away,” Cora said. “Obviously, you think about the present, but you think about Game 6, and then you have to be very careful with the way you treat him.
“At the end he made pitches. He did make pitches, and it just didn’t work out.”
Cora said every starter is different in terms of how long he might use them in relief between starts. But Eovaldi can handle the extra work.
“Athletic-wise he is different than all of them,” the manager said. “It’s funny because his history will tell you differently — because of all the injuries. But he just is at another level.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker didn’t name a starter. Righthander José Urquidy, who took the loss in Game 3, is a leading candidate.
Setback for Meyers
The Astros hoped to have center fielder Jake Meyers back for this series after he bruised his left shoulder in the Division Series. But Baker said Meyers had a setback.
“He has been trying to test it and test it,” Baker said. “So he might be further away than he was a couple of days ago. So, no, he is not any closer.”
“He wasn’t good at all. He was actually worse … We’ll have to make a determination here soon.”
Because it’s a pre-existing injury, the Astros cannot drop Meyers off the roster and add another player.
Like all of the Red Sox, lefthanded reliever Josh Taylor has embraced the atmosphere at Fenway Park for the six home games in the playoffs.
“People don’t realize how big the crowd impacts a game, whether they’re cheering for you or against you. You feel it, and it either motivates you or gets to you. You have to learn to pitch with it,” he said.
“Our fan base has been amazing this year, and they’ve been great in the postseason. We just need to carry that on.”
After playing in front of empty seats last season, the impact this season has been even more noticeable.
“It’s incredible. They bring life to the stadium,” Taylor said. “It’s hard to get the adrenaline going in games when you can hear crickets.”
Experience not needed
Baker was asked his thoughts on Cora being so successful early in his managerial career.
“I didn’t have any experience either other than the Fall League. If you know baseball, you know baseball,” he said. “He was a player. He was around quite a few players that he learned from.
“You don’t have to have as much experience, but you have to have baseball knowledge. You know, he has been successful. But we’re going to try to stand in the way of his immediate success.”
Wednesday was the 43rd playoff game for Xander Bogaerts, tying him with Manny Ramirez for fourth-most in team history. Only David Ortiz (76), Jason Varitek (63), and Dustin Pedroia (51) have more … The home run Rafael Devers hit in the seventh inning was his eighth in 25 postseason games. In Sox history, only Ortiz (17), Ramirez (11), and Varitek (11) have more. Devers joined Mickey Mantle, Albert Pujols, and Carlos Correa as the only players with eight postseason homers before turning 25. Devers turns 25 on Sunday and has a chance to break the tie … Wednesday was the 17th anniversary of the Red Sox beating the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS … Cora was asked before the game if he reviewed any of the creative balls and strikes called by umpire Laz Diaz on Tuesday night. He took a pass. “We’ve got to get ready for tonight,” Cora said … Jim Rice and Luis Tiant threw out ceremonial first pitches.