A day after Nate Eovaldi allowed five homers in one inning against the Astros, Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush suggested the trouble was more pitch location than Eovaldi tipping his pitches.
“We looked at the location plot for all of [the homers] and most of them were middle-middle,” Bush said before the Sox beat the Astros, 5-1, in Wednesday’s series finale.
Eovaldi allowed 15 homers in 32 starts last season. He’s one away from that total now through eight starts.
Given that Eovaldi has had a strong season prior to Tuesday’s outing — a 3.15 ERA in 40 innings through seven starts — Bush downplayed the concern about his starter’s performance against the Astros.
“We’ll try to figure out what we can do better from [Tuesday] night but also not make too much of an issue out of one appearance, when by and large he’s done very well this year,” Bush said.
Manager Alex Cora also downplayed the notion his starter was tipping pitches.
“We always talk about tipping,” Cora said. “But [Nate’s] a strike thrower against a team that does damage early in the count.”
Cora said he’s fine with Eovaldi surrendering homers as long as there’s no traffic on the bases.
“We love the way he attacks,” Cora said. “But we have to make adjustments. I think stuff-wise his fastball didn’t play, and that was his worst [outing] in a while. We’ll go back to the drawing board and get him ready for Sunday.
Hernandez on the shelf
The WooSox placed lefthander Darwinzon Hernandez on the seven-day injured list Tuesday with a right MCL sprain. Cora said Hernandez will be out for a while.
The Red Sox optioned Hernandez to Triple-A Worcester at the end of spring training with the hope they could build him up to pitch multiple innings for the major league club this season. The Sox also wanted Hernandez to work on his command, which has been an issue for the lefthander, who averaged 7.4 walks per nine innings in parts of three seasons with the Sox.
But Hernandez struggled for the WooSox, posting a 5.95 ERA and walking 16 in 19 innings.
Despite the numbers, the Sox were encouraged by Hernandez’s progress. Cora alluded to Hernandez’s most recent outing in which the lefthander worked three innings, striking out three and yielding three hits. Hernandez did not allow an earned run (one unearned) and walked one just one batter. The Sox felt as if the southpaw was getting close to figuring it all out.
“You see the walks and all that, but as far as the fastball and consistency on his mechanics he was getting there,” Cora said. “Little by little, he was doing an outstanding job. His stuff was picking up.”
Wacha nearing return
The Red Sox plan on activating Michael Wacha (left intercostal soreness) off the 15-day IL for Friday’s matchup against the Mariners. Wacha came out of his two simulated games this week feeling fine, and threw a short bullpen session Wednesday. Wacha was the Sox’ best starter prior to hitting the IL, posting a 1.38 ERA in five starts (26 innings pitched) . . . The Red Sox host the Mariners for a four-game set starting Thursday. The probable starters: George Kirby vs. Rich Hill; Robbie Ray vs. Michael Wacha; Chris Flexen vs. Garrett Whitlock; and Logan Gilbert vs. Nate Eovaldi ... Bryan Mata has progressed to throwing in simulated games in his return from Tommy John surgery. The highly-regarded pitching prospect has been clocked at up to 98 miles per hour in his rehab. He may be ready to start pitching in games when the Florida Complex League season starts in June . . . Triston Casas is considered day to day after rolling his ankle in Tuesday’s WooSox game ... For notes: J.D. Martinez’s hit streak (18 games) and on-base streak (34 games) came to an end Wednesday after the Sox designated hitter went 0 for 3.