Wednesday was not a short day. The Red Sox were looking to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Braves, and things didn’t get off to a good start with Atlanta striking early against Nick Pivetta. The offense had some answers, though, including a game-tying homer from Rafael Devers and later a big sixth inning that put them in the lead. They would stay there, too, but we had to sit through a three-hour rain delay to make it happen. We’ll take wins, but preferably not of the five- or six-hour variety if we can help it.
Tuesday was a frustrating day for the Red Sox, and not just because their offense was shut down by Charlie Morton. It’s one thing to get shut down by an accomplished pitcher. It’s another to have him on the ropes, let him slip out, and then dominate. The Braves offense would find themselves in a similar position in this second and final game of the series, but they had at least a little more success coming through when they needed it.
Of course, they were also going up against a guy in Nick Pivetta who, while good this season, is not Morton. They also had some familiarity with the righty from his Phillies days, and it showed. The Red Sox righty did strike out Ronald Acuña Jr. to start the day, but then issued a walk before giving up a triple to Ozzie Albies, and three batters into the game Atlanta already took a 1-0 lead. Pivetta came back with another strikeout as he tried to escape with just one run, but Dansby Swanson came through with a big two-out double and the Braves had a 2-0 lead before they even took the field defensively.
They weren’t going to stop there either, as they got going a bit in the second inning as well. This time they started things off with a Guillermo Heredia double, and after a ground ball moved him up to third base he’d come on home on a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-0 game very early on. Atlanta threatened for even more, too, with a single and a double putting a pair in scoring position, but Pivetta got a huge strikeout of Albies to escape the inning. So while the Braves did better than their counterparts on Tuesday, they still let the Red Sox breathe a little easier than they could have.
As for Boston’s offense, they were going up against a lesser pitcher than last night with a struggling Drew Smyly coming in to pitch for Atlanta. The Red Sox were quiet early on, picking up where they left off on Tuesday with their first five batters retiring. Hunter Renfroe turned the trend in a big way with two outs, however. He got an 0-1 curveball that hung up right over the heart of the plate, and he sent it way out to left field for a solo shot, cutting the Red Sox deficit to two.
Pivetta would settle in for the next couple of innings after that, allowing one baserunner in each of the third and fourth innings but not allowing them to advance beyond first base. And on the other side, the Red Sox were ready to get back in the game completely. After two quick outs in the bottom half of the fourth, Xander Bogaerts kept the inning alive with a walk, allowing Rafael Devers to come to the plate. He continued what has been a monster start of the year for him, getting a hanging curve of his own on an 0-2 pitch and sending it to straightaway center field for a two-run shot. Just like that, we were all tied up.
This Braves lineup is relentless, though, and they were not going to sit quietly for very long before making some more noise. They did just that in the fifth, and almost right away. Austin Riley came up second in the inning with the bases empty and one out, and he hit an absolute laser out to left field on a hanging breaking ball from Pivetta, and in the blink of an eye the Braves were back out in front again by a score of 4-3. The Red Sox righty wouldn't allow any more from there, eventually getting out of the game with four runs allowed over six innings of work with nine strikeouts and two walks, but also with his team behind.
The score was still 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth, but the Red Sox got another chance here. It started with back-to-back one-out singles from Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez, and they’d quickly move up a base each on a wild pitch to put two in scoring position with just the one out. This was one of those situations in which the Red Sox have struggled to come through of late, and it looked like they might not again. Bogaerts hit a little ground ball right at Riley at third base, and Verdugo was on contact. For whatever it’s worth, I generally hate the contact play, but Verdugo got a perfect jump on contact and just barely got his hand in to tie this game at four.
They weren’t going to stop there either, with Devers coming up to the plate next. He stayed in the yard this time, but he still smoked one off the Monster for an RBI double, giving Boston their first lead of the night. That would end the night for Smyly, but it did not end the activity for the Red Sox in the inning. Danny Santana would come in with two outs to pinch hit for Bobby Dalbec, and kept the inning alive with a walk. That allowed Christian Vázquez to come to the plate, and he brought home two more with a big base hit to make it a 7-4 game. He’d then quickly steal second base to put two in scoring position yet again, but they settled for “just” the four runs in the inning.
And then, just as the Red Sox took the lead, the rain came. And it kept coming down. The game was delayed for almost three hours before resuming — why it was not just called is beyond me — at midnight, with Josh Taylor coming out to pitch the seventh for Boston. Fittingly, we started the game back off with a replay review to see if Acuña was hit with a pitch or if it hit his bat. It was ruled to have hit him, and Atlanta had the leadoff man on. Taylor got the next two, and that was the end of his night with Alex Cora calling on Adam Ottavino to end the inning, which he did in two pitches.
After the offense went down in order in the bottom of the inning, it was Ottavino coming back out for the eighth, with rain coming down yet again. It didn’t appear to bother him too badly, as he made it four in a row total for him on the night to get through the top of the eighth with the 7-4 lead.
The Red Sox were able to add onto their lead in the bottom of the inning, getting one in on an error and another on a Vázquez single to make it a 9-4 game. That just left one more half-inning to play for some reason, despite the rain coming down as heavy as it did all night. After another delay to clean the field back up, we finally got the last inning of the night underway. Andriese did not get the job done. He did get one out, but then allowed a solo homer and a single, forcing Cora to go and bring in Matt Barnes with a four-run lead.
Fortunately, it didn’t take long. Barnes got a ground ball from the first batter he faced, inducing a 6-4-3 double play to finally, mercifully end this game. The 9-5 win pushed the Red Sox record to 30-20.
The Red Sox now have their second day off of the week before welcoming the Marlins to Fenway. They’ll play a three-game set with Miami starting on Friday.