July 8, 2018 / 8:21 PM / 14 days ago

Eovaldi flirts with perfect game as Rays blank Mets

EditorsNote: adds to seventh graf

Nathan Eovaldi carried a perfect game into the seventh inning Sunday afternoon and combined with Andrew Kittredge on a two-hit shutout as the visiting Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Mets 9-0 at Citi Field.

The Rays won the final two games of the three-game series and have won 11 of their last 15. The Mets have lost 25 of their last 33 games and haven’t won a series since May 18-20, a span of 14 series.

The Mets offered no resistance in the first six innings as Eovaldi pursued the Rays’ first perfect game and the 24th in major league history. C.J. Cron’s three-run homer gave Eovaldi a lead before he even took the mound, and New York got just three balls out of the infield in the first six innings.

Eovaldi, mixing a high 90s fastball with a low 90s splitter, needed just 70 pitches to get through the sixth and threw a first-pitch strike to 13 of the first 19 batters he faced. He got to just one three-ball count, and the only difficult defensive play Tampa Bay had to make came in the third, when left fielder Joey Wendle made a diving catch of pinch hitter Kevin Kaczmarski’s blooper.

However, Brandon Nimmo laced a clean single over second base on an 0-1 count to open the seventh inning and end the perfect game. It was tied for the second-longest perfect-game bid in Rays history, behind only Chris Archer, who retired the first 19 batters on July 29, 2015.

It was the second time this season Eovaldi tossed six no-hit innings. He was pulled with a no-hitter intact after six innings in his first start May 30. He also tossed six innings of one-hit ball on June 26. He has allowed one hit or fewer over at least six innings five times in his career.

Eovaldi (3-3) was pulled after the seventh. He gave up one hit and no walks while striking out nine.

Eovaldi also helped his own cause with an infield RBI single in the fifth. Daniel Robertson and Mallex Smith each had RBI singles in the third, and Jake Bauers (sixth inning) and Wendle (eighth inning) homered.

Kitteridge allowed one hit — a single by Devin Mesoraco leading off the ninth — and two walks while striking out one over the final two innings.

Mets starter Chris Flexen (0-2) took the loss after allowing five runs on five hits and three walks while striking out two over three innings.

—Field Level Media

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