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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Nathan Eovaldi takes the mound with a chance to save the Rangers’ season

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi celebrates after a groundout by Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman to get the Rangers out of a bases-loaded jam to end the fifth inning in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 16, in Houston.  (Tribune News Service)
By Lawrence Dow Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Nathan Eovaldi will be in a familiar position on Sunday when he starts for the Texas Rangers in game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the host Houston Astros.

Eovaldi will take the mound for the 10th start of his postseason career and his fourth against the Astros.

This time his job is to keep the Rangers alive in the postseason as Texas trails the best-of-seven series 3-2.

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said the Houston natives’ playoff experience is indispensable.

“I think anytime they’re in the postseason, that’s invaluable experience. That’s never going to change. Guys learn how to perform under pressure and it’s a different game now when you’ve been through it a few times,” Bochy said.

Eovaldi’s experience benefits the team even when he’s not on the mound, Bochy said.

“It’s not just good for you as an individual, but with other players and how you can help them. And Nate has been through a lot with all of his experience in the postseason so it’s good to have him,” Bochy said.

Every time the Rangers have called upon Eovaldi this postseason, he’s delivered.

Eovaldi leads the league in innings pitched during the playoffs with 19⅔ while sporting a 2.29 ERA and a 24:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, in addition to winning all three of his starts.

Eovaldi won his first start against the Astros in Game 2. He said he knows some adjustments will be necessary but doesn’t want to stray from what’s worked.

“I don’t think you really change up too much of what we did before,” Eovaldi said.” I think it’s more so seeing how the game goes. I’ll come in with my plan of attack … see if there’s any adjustments I need to make from the last time I faced them for certain batters.”

The Rangers have had a season of streaks this season, and Eovaldi was no exception. After starting the season as a Cy Young Award candidate before the All-Star break, he faded after suffering a forearm strain in July.

Eovaldi finished the season 12-5 with a 3.63 ERA, but after his return from injury posted a 9.30 ERA in September before bouncing back in the postseason.

Eovaldi embraced the ups and downs of the season, including his time spent on the injured list.

“I’m a big believer, again, things happen for a reason. The stretches we went on early in the season, how well we were playing, to having the struggles, to catching fire at this time again,” Eovaldi said.

Eovaldi pinpointed his last start against Seattle as when he finally felt like he had returned to full strength.

Eovaldi will get the start with a chance to send the Rangers to their first World Series since 2011.

This moment is exactly what the Rangers hoped for when they signed him in the 2022 offseason.