World Series Game 1, Men On The Mound
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Five years after his legendary relief appearance in the longest game in World Series history, Nathan Eovaldi is finally getting the opportunity to start a game in the Fall Classic.
The 33-year-old right-hander will take the ball in Game 1 for the American League champion Texas Rangers, who host the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 at 7:00 PM CT on Friday.
The game comes five years and one day after Eovaldi pitched the 12th through 18th innings for the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series before giving up a walk-off home run to Max Muncy in a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Eovaldi's relief appearance, which came on the heels of him pitching one inning in Games 1 and 2, is revered among modern pitchers, who have come to regard it as one of the finest pitching performances of this century, even in a losing effort.
"I'm very grateful for the past experiences," Eovaldi said Thursday. "Just being able to participate and get into the World Series was big. I kind of had my moment there.
The Diamondbacks have defied the odds every step of the way in making it to the World Series, using naysayers' doubts as fuel.
"If you're in any sort of competitive field and somebody tells you [that] you can't do something or they think somebody can do it better than you, I think that's kind of the main reason probably why you're where you are today," Game 1 starter Zac Gallen said Thursday afternoon.
Arizona claims it has enough internal motivation to keep it going but an external doubt here or there won't hurt the cause. Only a heavy underdog can play that card, and the Diamondbacks haven't shied away from it. They've embraced it and used it to their advantage.
"It's our job to come here, stay motivated and stay focused," Lovullo said. "I don't think we need extra, but when you get extra, it's like a glass of iced tea. Add a little bit of honey and lemon to it, it tastes perfect. We hear those things, they're out there. Social media makes it happen really quickly. And it's really my friends and my family that are dropping it in my lap."
Coverage of the World Series begins at 6:00 PM Friday on ESPN 102.3/AM 1000 KSOO.
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Gallery Credit: Rob Carroll