When the calendar turns to August and the schedule seems to go on for days, innings-eaters such as Nathan Eovaldi can be crucial for their teams.
Eovaldi (5-3, 4.11 ERA) will get the start for the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night, while the host Kansas City Royals will counter with Daniel Lynch(4-7, 4.70) in the third game of a four-game series.
Boston evened the series Friday night with a 7-4 victory. Starter Josh Winckowski gave up one run on five hits and two walks and struck out four in five innings to get the win. He worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the fourth inning by inducing a comebacker for a fielder's choice and a strikeout.
Xander Bogaerts had four hits and Alex Verdugo had three hits and a walk to key the Boston offense.
Eovaldi has pitched at least six innings in eight starts this season, allowing three or fewer runs in seven of them. He has a combined 2.70 ERA in 14 of his 16 starts, with the only aberrations against Houston (six earned runs on May 17) and Toronto (nine runs on July 22).
Red Sox manager Alex Cora appreciates that he can count on Eovaldi to gobble up innings.
"He's important," Cora said. "Not only him, but whoever can go deeper into the game can help. It's always good to get to the next level. When the starter goes six, it helps us maneuver the game the rest of the way."
So is Cora confident his right-hander is going to have an extended outing every time?
"I don't tell him that, but yeah," Cora said. "When he goes out, we expect him to go six or seven."
Eovaldi allowed two unearned runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings in Houston on Monday. He struck out six and walked two. He's 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA in six career appearances (four starts) against the Royals.
The left-handed Lynch has not pitched six full innings since his third start of the year. He's pitched into the sixth frequently, including his most recent start when he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox in a 2-1 win on Monday. He didn't walk a batter and struck out seven.
He said pitching deep into games is not his goal as much as it is a result of meeting his goals.
"I think those are all results, not process things," Lynch, 25, said. "The way I'm going to get deeper into games and pitch better is to work on my delivery, working on my command. I never go out there thinking, 'I need to go deep in this game.' I try to take it one pitch at a time. That's how the results come.
"I feel like I'm making improvements and still learning. There's always going to be more to learn. I just feel like I'm trying to learn every day and get better every day. I want to keep going out there and giving the team a chance to win."
Lynch will face the Red Sox for the first time in his career.
--Field Level Media