While not at his best, Eovaldi shows toughness

JUPITER, Fla. -- Three walks, a hit batter and four hits in four innings wasn't the cleanest of afternoons for Nathan Eovaldi.

But looking at the end result, the Marlins right-hander will take it.

While not at his sharpest, Eovaldi's stuff still was able to keep the Yankees in check in the Marlins' 6-1 win on Friday at Roger Dean Stadium.

"I was kind of breaking all the rules -- walking leadoff batters, working counts. Two outs, walking guys. Giving up hits after getting some quick outs," Eovaldi said. "Luckily, the defense was there, and I was able to pitch out of it."

Eovaldi allowed one run, and he became the first Miami starter to pitch as many as four innings. He threw 61 pitches, 35 for strikes.

"From the first batter of the game, I was never able to get into that nice rhythm," he said. "I was able to maintain the damage."

The lone run the right-hander surrendered came in the fourth inning. After getting two outs, he allowed a single to Melky Mesa and an RBI double to Thomas Neal.

"I thought he looked good," manager Mike Redmond said. "I think he accomplished what we set out to do. I kind of debated having him face that one last hitter."

Eovaldi finished the inning by retiring Ronnier Mustelier on a groundout to second.

"I don't like taking guys out in the middle of the inning, not just for morale for them," Redmond said. "I don't like it, especially in Spring Training. So we let him face another hitter, and he got out of it, which was nice. So he walked off there feeling good. We all did, too."

Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez are the front-runners to be the Nos. 2 and 3 starters behind Ricky Nolasco, who will pitch on Opening Day.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter