NEW YORK — Nathan Eovaldi will reach the peak of his career Monday night, taking the mound in his first postseason start, and he will reflect on how far he has climbed from his low point. It will actually be a fairly easy comparison.

He will start Game 3 of the American League Division Series for the Red Sox against the Yankees, almost exactly two years and two months after his elbow broke down while pitching for the Yankees against the Red Sox. “I think it’s kind of cool,” he said.

Eovaldi is something of a surprise for the game Monday, having not learned of the assignment until the team landed in New York late Saturday night. The Red Sox had planned to start Rick Porcello in the pivotal game of the five-game series but decided to rest him an extra day because he pitched in relief Friday.

Dealing with the unexpected has become commonplace for Eovaldi, 28. He has had two Tommy John surgeries, one after his injury as a Yankee on Aug. 10, 2016, and one when he was a high school player in Alvin, Texas (also Nolan Ryan’s hometown).

“I feel like, with those injuries, it has helped me grow a lot as a player, in a lot of different ways,” Eovaldi said during a news conference at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. He rehabbed all of last year with the Rays, who signed him despite the surgery. The Rays traded him to the Red Sox on July 25, and he made an impact in three appearances against the Yankees: no earned runs, six hits, three walks and 13 strikeouts in 16 innings.

“Teammate Matt Barnes said: “I think what we’ve seen Evo do this year against the Yankees is impressive. He’s got electric stuff. I think he’s very confident pitching here, and there. We’re very confident in him.”


Eovaldi vowed to “try to do the same thing against them that I have been doing: stay aggressive and try to get that first strike.” He added: “This is what we play for, coming out of spring training, preparing for this moment. I’m excited, ready to go. It’s definitely the most important game I’ve ever pitched in.”

INDIANS-ASTROS: Cleveland is very familiar with the postseason hole it is currently stuck in. The Indians saw one just like it last October – when they led the Yankees 2-0.

At least they know it can be scaled.

But Cleveland’s climb in this AL Division Series seems much steeper than just the 2-0 deficit they’re facing after dropping the first two games in Houston. The defending World Series champion Astros have shown their exceptional pitching and extraordinary depth while outplaying the swing-and-miss Indians in every facet of the game.

“They’ve played pretty much perfect baseball to this point,” Indians third baseman Josh Donaldson said following Saturday’s 3-1 loss. “We have had a couple mistakes the first couple games, and now it’s our time to respond.”

Or another Cleveland baseball season will end before the leaves change colors.

Houston’s in complete control.

Astros aces Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole dominated Cleveland’s hitters in Games 1 and 2 as Houston’s pitchers combined on consecutive three-hitters. The Astros piled up 24 strikeouts against one of the league’s most balanced lineups, which is batting a combined .100 in this ALDS. The Indians’ offense was so anemic Saturday that they didn’t have a single at-bat with a runner in scoring position.

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