Nathan Eovaldi’s shutout start propels Rangers to first-ever World Series championship

On Wednesday night, Nathan Eovaldi once again shined when the spotlights were at their brightest, and was rewarded with a place in history.

Starting Game 5 of the World Series, the former Red Sox star pitched six shutout innings, leading the Texas Rangers their first World Series championship in franchise history.

What a half-decade it’s been for Eovaldi. Since the Red Sox acquired him from the Rays at the 2018 deadline, he’s pitched for three postseason teams and been a key figure in two championships.

In the 2018 World Series, he was the hero in what became the longest postseason game – by innings and minutes – in MLB history, coming out of the bullpen to throw 97 pitches in a stunning relief appearance that stretched into the 18th inning.

When the 2021 Red Sox were projected to finish last and win maybe 80 games, he led them to a Wild Card and all the way to the ALCS. It was his first All-Star season, and he finished fourth and 15th in American League Cy Young and MVP voting, respectively.

And with Diamondbacks star Zach Gallen no-hitting the Rangers until the seventh on Wednesday night, Eovaldi kept Texas in the game long enough for the bats to awaken.

In other words, this is simply what “Nasty Nate” does.

“I think it’s just do-or-die mentality,” Eovaldi told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, trying to explain why he’s able to step up on the big stage.

“That’s why we love Nate, man. He’s a winner,” pitching coach Mike Maddux said proudly. “Never gave in.”

No one knows this better than the Red Sox, who failed to re-sign Eovaldi last winter. The ultimate competitor and workhorse made them regret it all season long, pitching to a 3.63 ERA over 25 starts, tied for the second-best ERA of his career and better than any mark during his Boston tenure.

In 2018, Eovaldi’s heroic bullpen outing in Game 3 cost him his first career World Series start. When he finally got the ball for Game 1 of this year’s series, he struggled, giving up five earned runs and failing to get out of the fifth inning. In classic Eovaldi fashion, he got back up after that knockdown. Wednesday night was his fifth win of the postseason, tied with Randy Johnson (2001) and Stephen Strasburg (2019) for the most in a single postseason.

“That’s Nathan,” Bruce Bochy said as he cradled his fourth World Series trophy. “That’s his resumé. We had the right guy out there, we knew it, and we had all the confidence in the world in him. He’s done it before, and we knew he’d do it again.”

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