One inning marred what was on pace to be a historic day for Nathan Eovaldi.
But even though the 25-year-old lost his bid for perfection with one out in the sixth inning, he impressed his manager and teammates in Wednesday's 4-3 win over Minnesota in the Bronx.
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Eovaldi allowed three earned runs on four hits and two walks and struck out eight in seven innings. He threw 120 pitches and improved to 13-2 -- 8-0 in his last 11 starts, matching Zack Greinke for the longest winning streak in the majors. His ERA fell to 4.24.
"I thought he had the best stuff I've seen from him," Chase Headley said.
Added Dellin Betances: "He was electric all game."
The Twins' six baserunners against Eovaldi all reached in the sixth, after the hurler threw two straight 100-mph fastballs past Eduardo Escobar to start the frame with a strikeout. Chris Herrmann ended the perfect game with a bloop single over Headley. The ball landed within a few feet of the leftfield line.
"I'm thinking about diving the whole way," Headley said, "then it just gets a little bit too far where I know I don't have a chance."
Eovaldi loaded the bases and, with two outs, left a pitch upstairs for Joe Mauer, who roped a game-tying, two-run single to right. Girardi said it was the only mistake Eovaldi made. He allowed another run on Trevor Plouffe's infield single, but Greg Bird recaptured the lead in the bottom half with his second two-run homer.
"I thought [Eovaldi] pitched well the whole game," Girardi said. "I know they had the three runs. It wasn't like he gave up a bunch of hard-hit balls."
The lack of hard hits convinced Girardi to let Eovaldi throw 120 pitches.
"We needed this distance today because I didn't have a bunch of guys in the bullpen," said Girardi, who rested Andrew Miller and called on Betances for the save.
Eovaldi employed his usual mixture of fastballs, splitters and curveballs. His heater was clocked as fast as 102 mph, in the sixth inning, and he recorded five strikeouts with his splitter.
"He's got such a discrepancy in speeds and movement," Girardi said. "We saw fastballs 100 [mph] today and you saw curveballs 76 with a split that's 88 to 90, where the bottom falls out. It's just a really tough combination."
Eovaldi was especially happy about the splitter, which he said was not up to his standard in his Aug. 13 start in Cleveland. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits and three walks in 51/3 innings in the Yankees' 8-6 win. "In between starts, that was one of the things I was really focusing on, trying to get the split back," he said. "Coming into the game I was confident it would be there, and I felt good."
As it turned out, good -- not perfection -- was good enough.