Nathan Eovaldi has overpowered opposing batters in his last five starts. The Texas Rangers right-hander will try to extend that streak when he starts in the opener of a three-game series against the host Detroit Tigers on Monday afternoon.
Eovaldi is coming off a complete-game victory at Pittsburgh last Tuesday. He held the Pirates to one run on six hits and one walk while striking out five and throwing 104 pitches.
Eovaldi's mix of fastballs, splitters, cutters and curveballs has consistently kept batters guessing. The cutter proved to be a big pitch for him in his last outing.
"I knew coming in that they were going to be really selective when it was 0-2, that they weren't going to chase too much," Eovaldi said. "That's one of the nice things about having the cutter, is I'm able to stick that in there with the splitter and get some early outs."
In three of his previous four starts before the one in Pittsburgh, Eovaldi (6-2, 2.60 ERA) held his opposition scoreless and lasted at least eight innings. Overall during the five-game stretch, Eovaldi has allowed four runs and 22 hits while notching 35 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings.
"He's just in such a good groove," Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's fun to see really good pitchers that get really locked in."
That means the Tigers will have a very tall task on Monday.
"I think it sends a sense of confidence throughout the club when he's out there," Bochy said. "Obviously, it's the game itself that he pitches so well in, but it's what he brings, too, is the presence, the energy. He plays with a lot of fire. You love that about him."
Detroit will look to veteran left-hander Matthew Boyd to hold down the Rangers. Boyd (3-3, 5.74) has a win and a no-decision in his last two starts but hasn't gone deep in those games.
He didn't give up a hit for five innings to Washington two starts back but was removed with two outs in the sixth after allowing three runs and four hits in the inning. In his last start against Kansas City last Wednesday, Boyd was taken out after 4 2/3 innings and 86 pitches. Boyd gave up one run and three hits while walking two and striking out six.
"I think he got into the game a little bit better than he has," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said of Boyd. "And then he has the one inning where he throws almost 30 pitches. That's been a couple starts in a row. He gets tired a little bit and starts trying to be perfect."
The Tigers are coming off a successful series against a Central Division rival, defeating the Chicago White Sox in three of four games. Detroit blew a three-run lead on Sunday but rallied to win 6-5 with a run in the ninth and another in the 10th.
The Rangers have won seven of their last nine games but lost 3-2 to Baltimore on Sunday. Adolis Garcia went 1-for-4 but his home run drought continued. Garcia, who has 14 homers, hasn't gone deep since May 19.
Texas had won the first two games of the series.
"You get greedy," Bochy said. "We wanted this last one."
--Field Level Media