Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora called on Game 2 starter Nathan Eovaldi to pitch the top of the ninth inning in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night, with the score knotted at 2-2.
The result was not pretty. Eovaldi took the loss after giving up two hits, two walks and four runs, part of a seven-run outburst by the Houston Astros that resulted in a 9-2 victory. The series is now tied at two games apiece.
After the game, Cora explained his mindset in turning to the starting pitcher for the crucial inning.
"He was going to give us one inning and we felt that pocket was good for him," he told reporters.
While there will undoubtedly be questions about Cora's decision to turn to Eovaldi three days after he started and pitched 5.1 innings in Game 2, the bigger point of controversy following the game—especially in Boston—was home-plate umpire Laz Diaz appearing to miss a strike-three call in Jason Castro's at-bat that would have ended the inning, with the game still tied.
Adam Kaufman @AdamMKaufman
That's game. This "ball" led to Nate Eovaldi being charged four runs and the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RedSox?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RedSox</a> dropping Game 4. Should've been tied, going to the bottom of the ninth. <a href="https://t.co/zjOIOX7oHd">pic.twitter.com/zjOIOX7oHd</a>
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
Home-plate umpire Laz Diaz has missed 21 ball-strike calls tonight, according to <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ESPNStatsInfo</a>. That is the most of any umpire this postseason. The green dot in the upper RH corner is the Eovaldi curveball that would've ended top of the ninth with the score 2-2.<br><br>It is now 9-2. <a href="https://t.co/VzdyL4lth3">pic.twitter.com/VzdyL4lth3</a>
"I've got to take a look," Cora told reporters after the game about the controversial call. "... A lot of people thought it was a strike."
"I thought it was a strike," Eovaldi added.
Granted, it was Eovaldi who gave up a double to Carlos Correa to open the inning, and after intentionally walking Yuli Gurriel, it was Eovaldi who gave up the game-winning single to Castro and then walked Jose Altuve.
No, he didn't give up the three-run double to Michael Brantley. That distinction belonged to Martin Perez. But Eovaldi was responsible for all three runs. Bad call or not, he still struggled Tuesday night.
Cora and the Red Sox won't have much time to lick their wounds, with Game 5 at Fenway Park at 5:08 p.m. ET on Wednesday.