For the first time in almost a calendar year, the Red Sox played a game in front of fans Sunday. The Sox met their spring cross-town rivals, the Minnesota Twins, at Hammond Stadium, which, like the Sox' own JetBlue Park will soon be, had about 24 percent capacity allowed.
It may have only translated to a couple thousand fans, but their presence didn't go unnoticed in the Twins' 7-6 victory in a game shortened by the managers to seven innings.
"Even driving into the ballpark, there were a lot of cars waiting to get in,'' said starter Nathan Eovaldi. "They say 24 percent (capacity allowed) and you don't know what that's going to look like, but with everybody spaced out, it looked like a full ballpark. It was exciting having the fans in there, they're heckling a little bit. That's part of the game. You miss it.
"The juices were definitely flowing. You're facing another team in the batter's box; you're not facing your guys anymore and you had the fans cheering, so it's a baseball game. It feels good.''
Eovaldi was hit around a bit -- two runs allowed in an inning and a third on two hits and a walk -- and said the adrenaline of the first game, coupled with the presence of fans, had him a bit too amped up.
"Mainly, it was just tempo,'' he said. "We had fans there and I was just excited to be out there. I feel like I was just rushing through my delivery. My off-speed wasn't very good, but I got the work in that I wanted to get in. I got to work out of the stretch, (got) deep in the count, all that. Overall, obviously, it wasn't what I wanted, results-wise. But I got the work in and that was the main thing and I feel good.
"My main thing's the tempo. I get excited out there and I've got to learn to control that and set my tempo and be able to go out there and be able to execute my pitches. Again, I feel like I get going too fast and that takes away from my off-speed pitches and that gets me in trouble. I was rushing through everything so it wasn't as crisp as I would like it. Hopefully, I got it all out of the way and we'll be ready to go again next week.''