From a scorching hot March in spring training to a lukewarm first start on April 10, Nathan Eovaldi came in looking a whole lot like a lion and went out very much like a lamb.
Expectations were tempered and reality was checked in a 6-5, 19-inning loss to the Red Sox that ended at 2:12 Saturday morning -- long after Eovaldi had left the game.
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Eovaldi, the hard-throwing righty who was nearly untouchable for most of spring training, reverted to his 2014 form -- that is, giving up too many hits and fooling too few people.
He allowed eight hits in 51/3 innings -- somewhat consistent with last year's performances, though that's not what anyone would consider good news for the Yankees. He also hit a batter in the second and delivered two pivotal wild pitches in a two-run Red Sox sixth.
Eovaldi had a 4.37 ERA with the Marlins last season, giving up a National League-high 223 hits in 1992/3 innings (an average of 10.1 hits per nine innings) on his way to a 6-14 record. In his first four seasons, he allowed an average of 9.5 hits per nine innings and had a WHIP of 1.378.
Still, he was mighty impressive in five spring training outings, recording a 1.93 ERA, mixing in a more effective changeup and introducing a splitter to go with a fastball that can clock in at 100 mph.
More importantly, though, he was making believers out of coaches and scouts alike.
His velocity certainly was there in the early innings against the Red Sox -- first-inning pitches to Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia came in at 100 and 101 mph -- but the strikeouts weren't. He climbed out of a 3-and-0 hole to strike out David Ortiz looking on an 86-mph slider, but that was it for the night. In fact, the Red Sox swung and missed at only four of Eovaldi's 94 pitches: two fastballs and two curves.
Eovaldi gave up an RBI single to Pablo Sandoval in the first inning to put the Red Sox on the board, but the true unraveling came in the sixth, when he allowed two more runs on two singles, a walk and the two wild pitches. Daniel Nava's single, which deflected off a diving Mark Teixeira's glove and made its way to rightfield, drove in Sandoval and Mike Napoli for a 3-0 lead and ended Eovaldi's night. Both hits he allowed in the inning were on offspeed pitches.