Nathan Eovaldi was well aware that he was throwing a no-hitter. The New York Yankees right-hander from the same hometown as baseball's no-hit and strikeout king will take the seven-plus scoreless innings.
Eovaldi lost his no-hit bid when Rangers rookie Nomar Mazara led off the seventh with a single but pitched into the eighth without allowing a run for his first victory his four starts this season as the Yankees won 3-1 at Texas on Monday night.
"In the fifth inning. I realized I had it going on. Once it's over with, it's over with," Eovaldi said. "And I just want to try to go as deep in the game as I can. ... When it was hit, I thought it was an out. But with the shift, the ball made it through."
The Rangers were without a hit until Mazara, a day before his 21st birthday, singled through the left side of the infield. After Mazara was wiped out by a double play, Prince Fielder swung at a high pitch for a double to right-center before Ian Desmond grounded out to end the inning.
"He was amazing. His split ... anything that started at your thigh went straight to the ground," Fielder said. "Obviously if you can get a big-league team to go no hits through the seventh, you're doing something good."
Jacoby Ellsbury and Starlin Castro had solo homers for the Yankees off Cesar Ramos (0-1), the lefty starting in place of Cole Hamels (sore groin).
After Eovaldi (1-2) walked Mitch Moreland to start the eighth, Dellin Betances took over and promptly got Elvis Andrus to ground into a double play before Brett Nicholas hit his first career homer. Andrew Miller worked a perfect ninth for his fifth save in as many opportunities as the Rangers lost their fourth straight game.
Eovaldi is only the second major league player from Alvin, Texas. The other is another big right-hander: Nolan Ryan, who threw a record seven no-hitters.
"We saw tonight what we saw toward the end of last year, and we'd love for that to continue," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who was then asked what he saw from the pitcher. "Uncomfortable swings. You can tell how good a guy is and how good his stuff is by the reaction of the hitters. They're swinging at pitches in the dirt or they're swinging at pitches over their heads because it's just an uncomfortable at-bat."
Eovaldi threw 66 of his 98 pitches for strikes. He walked two and struck out six, ending his streak of seven consecutive starts with at least seven strikeouts that was tied with the longest in team history.
"I feel like I've progressed in each outing," he said. "It was good for everything to come together in this one."