The Boston Red Sox and the host Miami Marlins will conclude their three-game series with the rubber match on Thursday afternoon at Marlins Park.
Boston won the opener 2-0 on Tuesday. Miami won Wednesday’s game 8-4.
On Thursday, it will be a battle of right-handers as Miami will start Jose Urena (0-1, 7.71 ERA). Boston will counter with former Marlins pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (2-2, 4.82).
Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro, who slugged two homers on Wednesday, is not expected to catch Thursday. Alfaro was removed in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game after he took a foul ball off his mask, and he has had concussion issues in the past.
Chad Wallach is expected to replace Alfaro on Thursday. Interestingly, Urena’s ERA when Alfaro catches him is 6.04 in 19 games. Urena’s ERA in four games caught by Wallach is much better at 4.30.
This will be Urena’s third career start against Boston. So far, he has no record but a solid 3.46 ERA.
Urena, 29, has spent most of this season on the injured list. In his two appearances, covering 9 1/3 innings, Urena has allowed nine hits, seven walks and eight earned runs. He has struck out just four batters and could be in danger of losing his rotation spot if he doesn’t turn things around quickly.
Eovaldi, 30, went 13-27 in two-plus seasons with the Marlins. Miami traded him to the New York Yankees in December 2014, and Eovaldi went on to help Boston win the 2018 World Series.
In his career against the Marlins, Eovaldi is 0-1 with a 7.82 ERA in three starts. He is also 6-15 with a 4.43 ERA in 34 starts at Marlins Park, his former home stadium.
This season, the Red Sox are 4-3 when Eovaldi starts. However, he missed about one month due to a right calf injury, returning to pitch three innings — allowing one run — last Saturday at Tampa Bay.
“I felt a grab,” Eovaldi said of his initial injury. “I thought I would be out a day or two.”
It turned out to be much longer than that, but the Red Sox are grateful he’s back now.
Both teams are also expected to get their standout center fielders back in the lineup — Jackie Bradley Jr. for Boston and Starling Marte for Miami.
Marte has sparked the Marlins since they acquired him on Aug. 31 from the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 16 games since the trade, Marte has produced a .772 OPS, three homers and 11 RBIs.
“I hate taking him out of the lineup,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Marte. “But he’s a little beat up. He has a collateral damage from all those games (seven in five days) against the (Philadelphia Phillies).”
The surprising Marlins, who are in second place in the National League East — one year removed from losing 105 games — are feeling pretty confident. In fact, this is the first time the Marlins have been in a playoff race this late in a season since they won the World Series in 2003.
Garrett Cooper, now in his third season with the Marlins, talked about the feeling on the team after he slugged a two-run homer on Wednesday.
“The past few years have been a struggle, but this is a fun group,” Cooper said. “This year is something special.”
–Field Level Media