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Rangers’ Nathan Eovaldi gets nod vs. former Red Sox teammates

Sep 14, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;   Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox will face an old friend as their three-game series against the Texas Rangers continues on Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas.

A free agent last winter, Texas right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (11-4, 2.96 ERA) is set to take on the Red Sox for the second time this season. He spent the previous 4 1/2 years with Boston, earning three straight Opening Day starts and winning a World Series ring in 2018.

The 33-year-old’s July 6 return to Boston — in which he allowed four runs on five hits across 5 1/3 innings — was his second-to-last start before a seven-week absence caused by a right forearm strain.

“The moment I went (to Boston), it’s like everything changed, the focus changed,” Eovaldi said. “We knew we had the team and talent (to win). I see a lot of what we’re trying to do (in Texas), and it reminds me of that team.”

Eovaldi pitched 3 1/3 innings of two-run ball on Thursday as the Rangers completed a four-game sweep in Toronto. It was his third start since returning from the injury.

The Rangers (82-68) went on to Cleveland and got outscored 23-6 while getting swept in a three-game set over the weekend. After taking a 4-2, series-opening loss to Boston, Texas and the Seattle Mariners (82-68) are tied for second in the American League West, 1 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros (84-67). The Rangers and Mariners share the third and final AL wild-card spot.

Also a former New York Yankee, Eovaldi is 3-0 with a 4.78 ERA in eight career games (seven starts) against the Red Sox.

While Eovaldi returned earlier this month, the Rangers’ struggling lineup received a boost when third baseman Josh Jung (left thumb fracture) and right fielder Adolis Garcia (right patellar tendon strain) were activated on Monday.

“(Jung) is a big part of what was missing with us,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “I don’t want him to think like (he has to carry the team) because he’s missed a lot of time. We didn’t put him on rehab, so obviously there is some sense of urgency with how many games we have left.”

Jung’s ninth-inning single was one of the team’s five hits on Monday.

Red Sox starters have struggled to provide length in the later stages of the season, but Tanner Houck (5-9, 4.94 ERA) will look to do just that for a second straight start on Tuesday.

After allowing a total of nine runs over his previous two starts, Houck completed six shutout innings in the opener of a Thursday doubleheader against the Yankees. He struck out seven and allowed just four hits and three walk, finishing the final frame after a mound visit from manager Alex Cora with two on and one out.

“I wanted to be out there and have been working day in, day out trying to get better, trying to push myself to be able to get through the sixth inning,” Houck said.

Houck is 2-1 in his past three starts after going 0-8 in his previous 11.

An even more encouraging sign for the Red Sox (75-76) was coming through with runners in scoring position after entering Monday’s game hitting .190 this month in those situations.

Rob Refsnyder’s two-run single in the eighth inning erased a 2-1 deficit, preceding an Adam Duvall sacrifice fly. Luis Urias had a game-tying hit in the fifth.

“It was a good one,” Cora said after his club snapped a four-game losing streak. “We’re gonna keep playing. We’re not going to quit, you know? We have to win as many games as possible the rest of the way, and (Monday) was a good night.”

Boston first baseman Bobby Dalbec contributed his first multi-hit game since being recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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