Red Sox

Red Sox

BOSTON — For as often as “pass the baton” has been passed around during the Red Sox’ nightly parade of clutch hits, a phrase that better encapsulates the Sox’ approach to the season and the World Series is “all in.”

There’s been no shortage of that phrase throughout the season, either, in contexts good and bad. The roster composition created question marks for the future, placing extra emphasis on the October success of a 162-game juggernaut. That gamble has paid off in grand fashion so far, putting the Sox just two wins away from a title.

Chips were shoved to the middle in the big picture, and this October, that's been the case in the day-to-day scene as well for manager Alex Cora and his staff. See Wednesday’s usage of Nate Eovaldi — the Game 3 starter in each of the last two series — in relief for a second consecutive game. 

Eovaldi was charged with the eighth inning in both games against the Dodgers, needing 13 pitches to navigate a perfect frame in a 4-2 victory in Game 2. He threw 16 pitches in Game 1.

The trickle-down effect? Eovaldi becomes a likely Game 4 start, with Rick Porcello moving up from that spot the previous two rounds to Game 3. (Cora didn't name a Game 3 starter prior to Game 2 because of this scenario.)

“You never know. Like I've been saying all along, we're all in every day,” Cora said. “The way it's mapped out, it's Rick [Porcello] in Game 3 and maybe Nate Game 4. But Nate might come in in the eighth again. If we have a chance to be up 3-0 with him on the mound and Craig [Kimbrel], we'll do it. And then we'll figure out Game 4.

 

“That's the beauty of the playoffs. It's actually fun, because you map out everything over 162 games and you give guys rest and take care of guys. But now it's like pedal to the metal. And whatever happens that day, we'll take it. He's been amazing for us.”

Eovaldi, like everyone else, has bought into Cora’s thinking. Cora didn’t have to go to Eovaldi, though. But the manager did, seeing a win in his grasp.

Moving all in has its risk. It always does. And the Sox are fully aware.

As strong as Porcello has looked, he isn’t an optimal match-up for the Dodgers. He may dominate, but a stacked lineup with lefties could prove problematic for the righty, who at times has been homer happy. 

But Porcello’s start carries a little more juice now for additional reasons: what does Eovaldi have for Game 4?

Eovaldi has shown a rubber arm in his time with the Sox. Two Tommy John surgeries didn’t stop him from throwing 101 mph, per Fenway’s gun, on Wednesday.

With three straight games in Los Angeles, the risk multiplies a bit. The Sox could be coupling a suboptimal match-up for Porcello with a bit of fatigue for Eovaldi, opening the door to some potentially draining outings for the ‘pen and the Dodgers overall. (Eovaldi can be susceptible to lefty hitting too.)

But Eovaldi is confident in his physical state, just as the Sox are in their bets.

“I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow, but I'll have time to recover,” Eovaldi said. "I feel like AC's been making all the right calls all year long. It's definitely been working, and hopefully we can keep it going.

"When the playoffs start, everybody is hands-on and you gotta be available for anything. You see Rick go down there, you see [Chris] Sale, [David] Price, all those guys go down there, it's like you need to be down there too.”

The payoff to the gamble is already in hand: two wins at home, heading on the road, where the Red Sox have yet to lose a game this postseason.

They keep winning big bets, so why would they stop making them?

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