Nick Pivetta was looking to bounce back from one of his two shortest outings of the season today against the division rival Blue Jays.
Before the fans were comfortably in their seats, they were greeted to an ugly sight: a 2-0 deficit provided via a Vlad Guerrero Jr. home run over the Monster. While Pivetta was able to escape with just the home run to one of the best players in baseball, it was another poor start for a Red Sox team that has to hate the first inning of ball games. Entering today’s game, the Red Sox had a 5.06 ERA in the 1st inning, and a 3.86 ERA in every other inning. Today’s game would inflate both numbers.
The second inning was a little better to Pivetta, but it took a little bit of luck to get there. A rare Christian Vázquez error put a runner on first, and a Cavan Biggio double put a runner on second and third, with only one out. This was obviously an untenable situation, which was not helped by a liner into center field. However, Enrique Hernández made the catch and fired an absolute bullet home to get the runner at the plate on a would-be sacrifice fly. Inning over. No damage.
The Red Sox tried to carry this momentum into the bottom half of the inning. After a Rafael Devers single, he was caught stealing on a pickoff play. This was when the wheels began to come off for Steven Matz, however, as he lost the strikezone against Hunter Renfroe. He was given an easy chopper back to the mound, but Matz uncorked the throw into centerfield, which allowed Renfroe to move over to third. Following a strikeout, Vázquez stole second without a throw. Bobby Dalbec drew a full count against Matz, but was unable to convert, as he popped a ball back up a mile high, easily catchable by the Blue Jays. No damage done on the score board, but Matz had already thrown 39 pitches to get six outs.
The Blue Jays struck again in the 5th inning, with another home run. This one was a solo shot by Biggio that was also into the Monster seats. But this was not the only damage done by the Blue Jays, as Marcus Semien joined the home run party with his own two-run blast, again, into the Monster seats. But that was not all, no, Bo Bichette also hit a home run, a solo shot, this one just beyond the Monster seats. If you are still reading, and not deterred by all the bullets over the Monster, the score stood at 6-0.
Dalbec didn’t quite hit a home run over the Monster, but what he did do was hit a triple in the bottom half of the 5th inning, after it grazed the wall in left center field. He didn’t score, because that would have been fun. Instead, the next two batters struck out and popped out respectively, to end the inning, and the chances of the Sox scoring.
Pivetta was finished after five innings. He gave up two walks, six hits, and six earned runs, all via home runs (four total). He also struck out six, but considering everything else, the strikeouts have to be the last thing on the collective minds of Red Sox fans around the world. Pivetta was bad today. Full stop. He gave up contact, a lot of it loud, and he didn’t keep the team in the game.
Replacing him on the mound was Brandon Brennan. Brennan was making his Red Sox debut. It did not start well. He gave up three straight singles to start the inning, one on a baffling decision to let a chopped grounder just kind of sit next to the foul line (hoping it went foul, evidently) instead of firing to first for a surefire out. With the bases loaded and no outs, Brennan got his first out via strikeout. Then he got a fortunate grounder to third that Rafael Devers picked up (take note), ran over to third base, and threw over to first for an inning ending double play. For all the problems caused by Brennan, the score remained 6-0.
The Red Sox finally scored in the bottom of the 6th, off a tired Steven Matz. Setting the stage were J.D. Martinez (who got on base with a single) and Hunter Renfroe (benefactor of one hit by pitch). Vázquez took up the mantle, and laid down the pain with a line drive single that scored a run, the Sox first of the game. With Matz at 111 pitches, the Blue Jays decided it was time to go to their cardiac bullpen. While the Sox were held in check the rest of the inning, the game was amusingly, not over.
Brennan, despite being taxed in the 6th, was brought out for a second inning of work in the 7th. His second inning went much better than the first. A Bichette ground out and a Teoscar Hernández fly out bookended a Guerrero walk. Guerrero was then caught stealing to end the inning. Much better.
There was a scary moment in this game as a wild Anthony Castro pitch drilled Enrique Hernández in the head, only saved from a facial injury (similar to Bryce Harper and Kevin Pillar) by the extended flap on his helmet.
Brennan recovered from his awful first inning of work to pitch into the 8th inning of this game, his third inning of work. Flyout, walk, double play. Inning over. After Pivetta departed early yet again, the Red Sox needed this performance, and Brennan performed admirably, albeit with a lot of luck on his side.
The Red Sox needed more than luck, but the Blue Jays helped them out big time by bringing in Rafael Dolis, who has blown a few situations against the Sox. He began by walking Martinez, and followed it up by giving up a triple to Devers, that brought in the second run of the day for the Sox. Unfortunately, the third run would have to wait, as a liner from Vázquez was snagged in mid-air by Semien and Devers was doubled off at third.
The Blue Jays hit another home run off of Brandon Workman in the top of the 9th. I don’t even really have words anymore. It’s been that stupid. The Blue Jays took back the run the Sox scored, making it 7-2.
Down five, the Red Sox needed something close to a miracle to win. They didn’t get it.
The Red Sox fell to 39-26, as they have to wait until at least tomorrow for their 40th win of the year.. Tomorrow’s game is on at 1:10 ET. With any luck, it will go better than this one.