A team looking for some momentum, the Red Sox had a great opportunity on their plate to get that momentum this weekend with the Orioles in town. They have Chris Sale coming back to the mound for the second game on Saturday, and here in Friday’s game they introduced Kyle Schwarber into the lineup for the first time since his trade to Boston. The slugger walked in his first at bat, which was part of a four-run second that set the tone for this game. It was never really in doubt, with Nick Pivetta tossing a great outing, and hopefully the start of a weekend where the Red Sox can get back to the series win column.
For a team going like the Red Sox are currently going, rapidly losing ground atop the division and watching their once sizable cushion for a postseason spot shrinking by the day, the best cure can often be just beating up on a bad team. Similar to how shooters in basketball just need to see one ball go down before they start rolling again, a team sometimes needs to just win a series to remind themselves that it is a thing that can happen. And facing a team like the Orioles, who have a little bit of a frisky offense at times but remain one of the worst teams in the league, can be just the trick.
Nick Pivetta was on the mound for Boston in this one, surviving in the rotation for the time being after watching both Martín Pérez and Garrett Richards recently lose their spots. Pivetta has certainly been better than those two, and while he’s had his own issues throughout the season, he’s also had some highs, and as recently as his previous outing before this one in which he went six scoreless. He was now looking to make it a run, and he got the job done against this Orioles team.
He did get into a little bit of trouble in the first, giving up a leadoff single to Cedric Mullins before throwing away a pickoff attempt to put the runner in scoring position. Mullins would get over to third as well, and Pivetta issued a walk, but he also got out of the inning without allowing a run. He’d come back with a perfect second after that, striking out two in the process.
Meanwhile, after getting a leadoff single and nothing else in their half of the first, the Red Sox offense got going against Orioles starter Spenser Watkins in the second. After a leadoff single in front of him, Kyle Schwarber stepped to the plate for his first at bat in a Red Sox uniform. He didn’t swing the bat, but he got on base with a walk. From there, they got a couple of singles and a double before finally getting the first out on a sacrifice fly. That out gave Boston their fourth run of the inning, however, and that 4-0 lead would be where we stood after two.
In the third, Pivetta had his one blemish on the scoreboard, though it was a Fenway special. Richie Martin was leading things off for Baltimore, and he got a 1-0 fastball down and away in the zone. Martin didn’t smoke it, but he sent a little line drive into the corner that snuck up and over the wall around the pole for a solo homer, all of 320 feet. It counts the same as a 500-footer, though, and it cut the Red Sox lead down to three.
But Pivetta got the next three batters after that, and Watkins lost his control in the bottom of the inning. The righty issued back-to-back one-out walks, and then Jarren Duran stepped up and dropped a line drive into right field for a double, and the Red Sox got that run right back and put their lead back at four.
From here, the Red Sox really took over this game. Pivetta tossed a perfect inning in the fourth, in part thanks to a home run robbery from Hunter Renfroe for the first out. And then in the bottom half, Xander Bogaerts came to the plate. He had already recorded two outs on well-hit balls the other way, so in his third at bat he hit a Fenway special of his own. This one was out to left field, with a fly ball just barely sneaking up and over the Monster for a solo shot. A couple innings later, Bobby Dalbec — who had a big double earlier in the game as well — smashed a solo shot of his own. This one was a bit more emphatic, being hit 411 feet out to center field, and it put the Red Sox up 7-1.
Pivetta would end up going six innings, allowing just the one run on the Martin homer. The righty gave up just three hits all game, striking out eight and walking two. After Pivetta came out, the aforementioned Richards entered for his first appearance out of the bullpen. He looked pretty good, with his fastball sitting at 95 as he tossed three scoreless innings for the save. The Red Sox offense also got one more run thanks to a bullet of a solo shot from Renfroe out to left field.
The 8-1 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 67-51. As of this writing, both the Rays and Athletics are leading while the Yankees have the night off. If those two scores hold, the Red Sox will remain five back in the division, two back for the top wildcard spot, and two ahead for the second spot.
The Red Sox now look to clinch a much-needed series win on Saturday. They’ll have Chris Sale back on the mound for this one, with Jorge López going for Baltimore. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.