FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was a bet Nathan Eovaldi had made before, but never in front of an audience this big.

With Game 3 of the World Series heading into the wee hours of the morning, Eovaldi was gambling on himself in Los Angeles. He was betting that his twice Tommy John’d elbow would hold up. Betting that he wouldn’t cost himself millions in free agency. Betting that he could put the Red Sox on his back for a few more pitches.

So he kept trotting back out for inning after inning of relief in his now lionized performance. He threw six innings, allowed three hits, and gave up Max Muncy’s game-winning homer in the 18th inning of a 3-2 loss.

Nonetheless, the self-confidence that was showcased on baseball’s biggest stage has deep roots.

“I feel like a lot of that comes from my parents always believing in me,” Eovaldi said. “Then also my high school coach (Mike Rogers from Alvin, Texas). He was really tough on us but also encouraging all at the same time. I think it’s just the hard work. If you want something you’ve got to work for it. No one’s going to give it to you or anything like that.

“I enjoy working hard. I enjoy trying to give it my best. I know this sport can be tough on us.”

The hard-throwing right-hander’s path to his first postseason illustrates just how tough baseball can be. Needing a second Tommy John surgery at just 26 years old, the Yankees released him in 2016.

Eovaldi believed he could make it all the back from the daunting procedure – again – and fortunately the Rays did, too. They co-signed the loan for another bet on himself, agreeing to two-year, $4 million deal that would allow him to rehab the entire first season.

He progressed as planned, and at the deadline last year, Tampa flipped Eovaldi to Boston for Jalen Beeks. All parties were thrilled.

“I think it was beneficial for both sides,” Eovaldi said. “They entrusted in me that I’d be able to come back, do well and be able to help the team out, which I felt like I was able to do. And they were able to get a good return for me in Jalen Beeks as well.”

Two years after being cut by New York, Eovaldi hit the market again, this time as a playoff folk hero.

He believed his hometown Houston Astros were going to make a real play, but ultimately, Boston wanted him far more. Dave Dombrowski landed him on a four-year deal, and Eovaldi was $68 million richer.

“(The Astros) really just weren’t that interested,” Eovaldi said. “It was an easy decision after that. You always want to go where you’re wanted. And the Red Sox were definitely right on my list of teams I wanted to come back to.”

In addition to the obvious payday, Eovaldi wanted to return to Boston because of rapport the starters share. Whether it’s watching batting practice, goofing around in the clubhouse or hitting the weight room, they’re almost always together.

“I feel like it’s definitely more so here, we’re all wanting to work for each other,” Eovaldi said as he silenced Eduardo Rodriguez’s cell phone that was ringing in the next locker stall. “We all want to be there and support each other… I’ve never really seen a starting rotation as focused on each other.

“I’ve had it on other teams, but this one I feel like is the most. It’s the closest I’ve ever been.”

Eovaldi has only made 30 starts in a season once, but he’s confident can live up to this contract. It’s just the way he’s wired. Heck, if Alex Cora had let him, he would have bet on himself again after his Game 3 performance.

“I saw (Cora) in the food room (before Game 4), I told him, ‘Hey if you need me today I’m ready to go. I feel great. Let’s go out there and win it,'” Eovaldi recalled. “He appreciated it. But I was like, ‘Hey, I don’t care what they think. It’s about the team right now and going out there and doing what I have to do to help us win a World Series.'”

METS 10, RED SOX 2: Eduardo Rodriguez gave up one run on three hits, while striking out three and walking one in three innings of work in Boston’s loss in Fort Myers, Florida.

The Mets broke the game open with three runs in the fifth and three more in the eighth.

Reliever Tyler Thornburg gave up three runs on four hits in one inning for the Red Sox.

THE RED SOX signed Christian Vazquez last spring training to a three-year, $13.55-million contract extension through 2021. Then his OPS dropped 195 points from 2017 to 2018.

“You have to ask him what happened early in the season,” Cora said. “It was a matter if he was feeling the pressure because he signed the contract or he just got lazy. You’ve got to ask him. I already told him where he was on my list. He went from the penthouse to down there to the penthouse again.”

Vazquez – whose contract also includes a $7-million team option and $250,000 buyout for 2022 – played better defense when he returned in September from a broken finger. He also began working better at-bats.

The 28-year-old ended up starting 10 of 14 games during the postseason. Sandy Leon started all three of Chris Sale’s starts and David Price’s start against the Yankees in the ALDS.

Jason Varitek, Red Sox catching coordinator Chad Epperson and pitching coach Dana LeVangie think 2019 probably is Vazquez’s best spring training camp as a major leaguer or minor leaguer.