But on a muggy Monday night in Cleveland, he and the Sox were better described as a hot mess as they fell behind the Indians 6-0. The game was delayed in the bottom of the seventh inning due to rain.
While facing the American League Central leaders for the third time in five starts, Covey allowed five runs – four earned – on six hits with five walks (one intentional), two strikeouts and a hit batter.
His defense didn’t help, committing three errors in the first three innings.
Covey stranded a pair of runners in scoring position after catcher Kevan Smith committed an error on a throw to second base in the first inning. But he didn’t have the same success when the Indians loaded the bases with nobody out in the second.
Lonnie Chisenhall singled and Rajai Davis reached on second baseman Yoan Moncada’s fielding error. Covey and third baseman Yolmer Sanchez botched an attempt to field Jason Kipnis’ bunt single that loaded the bases, and Roberto Perez followed with a two-run, ground-rule double to right field. Francisco Lindor’s sacrifice fly gave the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Covey was saddled with the third error, in the third inning, when his pickoff throw to first bounced by Jose Abreu. Kipnis drove in a run with a single for a 4-0 lead and tacked on another with a solo homer in the fifth.
Heading into Monday, Covey has been one of the Sox’s bright spots after a 2017 season in which he went 0-7 with a 7.71 ERA and battled an oblique injury. Per Rule 5 draft pick rules last season, he was forced to pitch at the major-league level before he was ready. But Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday he came into spring training much farther along than they had anticipated and morphed that preparation into a surprising spring with the Sox.
After he was called up the second time this season, he posted a 1.53 ERA with eight walks and 30 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings over his last five starts entering Monday.
Sox manager Rick Renteria was asked before the game if Covey had shown enough thus far to believe his success is sustainable and not just a blip. Renteria said he believes Covey’s confidence and focus could help him.
“On the outside looking in, I would say he’s on a path that leads us to believe he’s turning a corner and getting to where you feel comfortable with all of his approaches, when he’s attacking hitters, and that he’s going to be able to have this become a sustainable activity for him,” Renteria said. “The stuff is good. It’s always going to be, for all pitchers, trusting the stuff and commanding strikes.”
But Monday night was among the roughest outings Covey has had this year, and Renteria lifted him heading into the sixth inning after he had thrown 94 pitches, 56 for strikes. Reliever Hector Santiago added on to the sloppy night, issuing a bases-loaded walk in the sixth for a 6-0 Indians lead.
Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer, however, was on point.
He gave up three hits in the first two innings but then only allowed three more Sox baserunners over the next five innings, on two walks and a Yonder Alonso fielding error.