Nathan Eovaldi was pumping fastballs. The Los Angeles Angels were producing hits. Fastball. Hit. Fastball hit. By the time the Angels were done abusing Eovaldi — and he was done early on Tuesday — they had peppered him to the tune of 10 hits.
Eovaldi was dispatched in under four innings, which is all the time it required for the Angels to settle matters in a never-in-doubt, 8-2 thrashing of the Marlins.
Only a couple of two-out RBI hits in the ninth kept the Marlins from sustaining their first shutout loss since June 21 and bringing an end to the longest current streak of games in the majors — 57 — without being blanked.
The rough performance by Eovaldi had to be an unsettling sight for the Marlins, who have now witnessed similar in his recent outings. Eovaldi has been a loser in three straight starts in which he’s allowed 27 hits in about half the number of innings.
“Extremely discouraging,” Eovaldi said afterward. “Real frustrating. Im just going through a rough little rut right now.”
And Eovaldi’s career record of 15-30 now ranks as the worst, in terms of win-loss percentage, among active major league starters with at least 45 decisions.
“It’s definitely something that you look at,” Redmond said of Eovaldi’s poor record. “To be able to win ballgames at the big-league level, you’ve got to be able to pitch. He’s got a great arm. But eventually you’ve got to start executing pitches and stay away from contact and big innings.”
Eovaldi’s total innings count on the season now sits at 165 1/3, a career high that could be part of the issue. Is Eovaldi running out of steam? Or are opponents on to his stuff?
“The league knows he’s got a good fastball and he throws strikes,” Redmond said. “So you’re going to have to work on locating that fastball, moving it in and out, and being able to continue on his off-speed pitches to be successful.”
Eovaldi contended late-season fatigue is not a factor.
“My arm feels great,” Eovaldi said. “I feel 100 percent right now. It’s probably the best I’ve felt in my career.”
The Angels didn’t bother working long counts out of Eovaldi in an effort to wear him down, so geared were they to swinging early and often, so confident they could connect on a fastball that doesn’t deviate much from a straight line.
And connect they did.
In an all-or-nothing first inning, Eovaldi whiffed three. But he also surrendered three singles, with the last of those by Howie Kendrick scoring Mike Trout with the game’s first run.
After managing to make it through the second and third innings without serious harm, it all collapsed on Eovaldi in the fourth. The pitcher faced six batters and didn’t retire a single one, though an out was recorded when Erick Aybar was thrown out trying to advance on a ball thrown in the dirt.
Otherwise, the inning was a disaster for Eovaldi.
He walked Aybar before giving up five consecutive hits, with Trout tearing into yet another Eovaldi fastball for an RBI double. Trout went 3 for 3 against the pitcher while Albert Pujols singled in both of his at bats against him.
Asked afterward what approach the Angels’ hitter used against Eovaldi, Trout didn’t try to hide the obvious.
“Sit on the fastball, I guess,” Trout replied.
Eovaldi’s recent starts have to be a concern for the Marlins, who are scrambling to stay alive in the wild-card race despite a record that bobbed back below .500 (65-66) with Tuesday’s loss.
“Every start is big and every one of these games is big,” Redmond said. “It’s a missed opportunity for us.”
The Marlins don’t exactly have a lot of backup options available at this point., and Redmond said the plan is keep Eovaldi on schedule. His next start is set to come Sunday in Atlanta. They’re already undecided on who, Brad Penny or Brad Hand, who should be their fifth starter since neither has made that decision any easier with their recent body of work.
Angels starter Matt Shoemaker was close to un-hittable. As it was, the Marlins managed only two hits off Shoemaker over his seven innings, singles by Donovan Solano in the third and Marcell Ozuna in the fourth.