Any concern that the recent turnaround from Nick Pivetta was mostly a product of facing some of the bottom tier lineups in the game can now be put to rest after what he did on Wednesday night. Things started off a bit bleakly with José Altuve capping off a 10-pitch at bat with a solo homer, but he’d be the only Astros hitter among the first 19 to step to the plate who reached base. Pivetta was absolutely dominant after the home run to finish a complete game two-hitter, and against one of the better lineups in the game to boot. Throw in five runs from the offense, led by Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, and the Red Sox won a second straight series for the first time this season.
More robust game notes below.
Even after the homer fest from the Astros on Tuesday that led to a nine-run loss that was over before the game was halfway through, the Red Sox still had a chance for their best series win of the season, and their second series win in a row if they could come out on top on Wednesday night. Nick Pivetta got the ball for Boston, looking to keep up his recent hot streak and keep the Astros in the yard. Considering that, things got off to a pretty demoralizing start. José Altuve was in the leadoff spot for Houston, and he worked a great at bat against Pivetta, fouling off four two-strike offerings before jumping on a mistake. Pivetta tried to get a fastball up in the zone by Altuve, who was ready for it and sent it out into the Monster Seats for a leadoff homer.
Given what had happened last night, just how long that at bat was, and how most of his season has been, it was easy to feel pessimistic about how the rest of the night was going to go for Pivetta. But he turned those expectations on their head. He retired the next three batters he faced to get out of the first, and then continued mowing down Astros from there. In all, he retired 18 in a row after the home run to get through the sixth inning having only allowed the one run. It was mostly just great pitching from him, commanding the fastball as discussed in the linked post above and putting away great hitters with terrific breaking balls.
And while Pivetta was rolling through this game, the offense was giving him run support to work with a lead. They didn’t waste much time getting on the board after Altuve’s homer, starting with the red-hot Rafael Devers hitting a rocket of a triple out to right field. He’d quickly come home on a J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly, and then Xander Bogaerts gave Boston the lead. He got a cutter that stayed over the plate and up in the zone and deposited it into the first row of Monster Seats to put the Red Sox up by a run.
The offense would keep it going in the third inning, this time with some help from the Astros defense. On an Enrique Hernández ground ball to shortstop, Jeremy Peña’s throw was a bit too low for Yuli Gurriel to handle, putting the leadoff man on with an error. (It was charged to Peña, though it seemed like Gurriel should have had it.) That brought Devers to the plate with a runner on, and he came through again, this time smoking a double off the Monster. Hernández read it well off the bat and scurried all the way around to make it a 3-1 game.
Moving ahead to the fourth, the offense once again was able to extend their lead. This time around things started with a Trevor Story walk, which was followed by more poor defense from Houston, this time with Altuve miffing a fairly routine ground ball. Story should have gotten to third with the Astros playing in the shift and no one covering that bag, but it wouldn’t matter because he was still driven home on a Christian Vázquez single. Hernández followed that up with a base hit of his own to bring in Franchy Cordero, and the Red Sox were sitting with a 5-1 lead.
That was still the score as we headed into the seventh with Pivetta coming back in having only 66 pitches under his belt. The streak of 18 in a row retired came to end quickly though, with Michael Brantley ripping a ground rule double into the right field corner to lead off the inning. There was no trouble with the runner on base, with Pivetta retiring the next three including a big strikeout to end the inning and strand Brantley in scoring position.
The righty came out for one more inning for the Red Sox, and it was more of the same. Pivetta retired three in a row to get through eight strong innings, and he was given the chance to finish this one out, coming back for the ninth. He again retired three in a row, finishing off a two-hit complete game against one of the best lineups in baseball. It was the first complete game by a Red Sox pitcher since June 5, 2019 when Chris Sale did it, and it finished off a 5-1 victory for the good guys.
The Red Sox now look to keep these good times rolling against the AL West as they welcome the Mariners into town for a four-game weekend set. That one will kick off with Rich Hill taking on George Kirby starting at 7:10 PM ET.