Rangers activate Nathan Eovaldi for 3-inning start in World Series rematch instead of a rehab game

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Nathan Eovaldi came off the injured list to start a World Series rematch for the Texas Rangers instead of pitching a rehab game in the minor leagues.

“I felt good, I was definitely excited to be back out there on the mound,” Eovaldi said after throwing 27 of his 37 pitches for strikes over three innings in the Rangers' 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.

In his first game since May 2, Eovaldi struck out two without any walks while allowing two runs on five hits. He exited with the Rangers trailing 2-1, and was replaced on the mound by left-hander Andrew Heaney at the start of the fourth inning. Eovaldi got a no-decision.

“It's great to see Nate out there,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “His stuff was good for three innings.”

Eovaldi hadn't started a game since departing after 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Washington. He went on the 15-day injured list the next day with a right groin strain.

Bochy had indicated to reporters over the weekend that Eovaldi would pitch somewhere else before rejoining the Rangers rotation. That changed after conversations Sunday with Eovaldi before the team flew home from Minnesota and had a day off.

Asked about those conversations after the Arizona game, Eovaldi said pitching coach Mike Maddux asked him if he was 100% — “I said yeah,” the pitcher replied

Even though Eovaldi had worked up to throwing 60-70 pitches in the bullpen, and wanted to go another inning, Bochy said the plan was for around three innings.

“Mike doesn’t really let me know exactly like what the limit is going to be or anything like that. So I was just trying to work quick and keep the pitch count down,” Eovaldi said. “I thought it was low enough to go back out there for a fourth, but it was either, I guess, three innings or a pitch count, which I still don’t know what it is. But we were in a good spot.”

Eovaldi threw seven strikes in a nine-pitch first, but Arizona opened the second with back-to-back doubles. The second run came home on a foul pop out that turned into a sacrifice fly when first baseman Nathaniel Lowe made an over-the-shoulder catch while going away from the plate.

An All-Star last season in his Rangers debut, Eovaldi threw six scoreless innings and was the winning pitcher in the clinching Game 5 of the World Series for Texas over the Diamondbacks on Nov. 1. He allowed five runs over 4 2/3 innings in the series opener that the Rangers won in extra innings.

Bochy said Dane Dunning (3-3, 4.43 ERA) would pitch Wednesday in the finale of the two-game set against the Diamondbacks. It will be his second start back from a 15-day IL stint for a right rotator cuff strain, though that had been expected Tuesday.

“We wanted to give Dane an extra day. He got some pretty good stuff there in Minnesota, he was pretty sick,” Bochy said before the game. “So, yeah, there were a couple of variables involved.”



Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press