Winning by losing: How ex-Ray Nathan Eovaldi sparked Red Sox to World Series title

Nathan Eovaldi's effort — 97 pitches over six innings — galvanized the team and drew praise from manager Joey Cora.
Los Angeles Dodgers' Max Muncy scores on a throwing error by Boston Red Sox's Nathan Eovaldi, right, during the 13th inning of Game 3 of the World Series in Los Angeles. [AP Photo/David J. Phillip]
Los Angeles Dodgers' Max Muncy scores on a throwing error by Boston Red Sox's Nathan Eovaldi, right, during the 13th inning of Game 3 of the World Series in Los Angeles. [AP Photo/David J. Phillip]
Published November 19 2018
Updated November 19 2018

It could have been the lowest point of the Red Sox's postseason.

Instead, it was the catalyst that sent the team to its fourth World Series title in the past 15 seasons.

Former Ray Nathan Eovaldi had just allowed a walkoff home run to the Dodgers' Max Muncy in the 18th inning of Game 3, giving Los Angeles a 3-2 win and narrowing jet-lagged Boston's series lead to 2-1.

Yet, as Eovaldi left the field, he was greeted as a conquering hero.

He was met even before he reached the dugout by another ex-Ray, David Price, who pounded him on the chest and back. Others quickly followed suit.

As Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci reveals in a Nov. 5 cover story, Eovaldi's effort — 97 pitches over six innings in his third relief appearance of the series— galvanized the team and drew singular praise from manager Joey Cora in a postgame meeting that felt more like a celebration.

"Listen!"  Cora told his players. "We just played one of the greatest games in World Series history. Red Sox … Dodgers … Dodger Stadium … World Series … And the way you competed is something all of us should be very proud of. This is a great team. This was a great game. And you guys proved it tonight. And Nathan …"

The room burst into a standing ovation, Verducci writes, and then everyone took turns hugging Eovaldi, who underwent his second Tommy John operation just two years ago and didn't pitch until May with the Rays.

"I'm talking like a minute hug each," Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello said. "What Nathan did was the epitome of what our team is about. Every player does what he can to try to help the team win."

Price, Verducci relates, did not leave Eovaldi's side, accompanying him to the training room, the team bus and, a day later, to the hot and cold tubs.

"Nobody's ever done anything like that for me," Eovaldi said of Price, who went on to clinch the series with an outstanding seven-plus-inning-performance in Game 5. "He's a great teammate."

Eight hours after he had allowed the home run to Muncy, Eovaldi — who was sent to the Red Sox in July in a deal that brought Jalen Beeks to the Rays — was gathered with his teammates for a breakfast at the team hotel.

Holding his four-year-old son, Jace, in his arms, Verducci writes, Eovaldi walked up to Cora.

"I'm good to go tonight," he said.

Read the full story here.

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