This team is just brutal to watch. They got another phenomenal start on Saturday, this time from Nick Pivetta, who was in desperate need for a day like this. He tossed six shutout innings, and the bullpen tossed a couple scoreless frames behind him. Unfortunately, the offense is still in hibernation and scored just one run, leaving the door open for Chicago. Sure enough, Hansel Robles blew the save in the ninth, then Bobby Dalbec and Trevor Story combined to blow a prime chance to walk it off in the bottom half. As everyone in the world expected after that, Matt Barnes gave up multiple runs in the 10th, and that was that. This team can’t get out of its own way.
More robust game notes below.
At the start of the NESN broadcast on Saturday, Dennis Eckersley mentioned that it was a pitchers kind of day at Fenway, noting the strong wind blowing directly in from the outfield. That wind would certainly prove to hold up and knock down balls throughout this game, and indeed to lend itself to the pitching. That’s not to take away from the work done by Nick Pivetta and Dylan Cease, though, each of whom had good stuff in this one and kept their opponents off-balance.
For Pivetta, it was a welcomed sight considering how rough the start of his 2022 season has been to this point. He looked like he was taking a step in the right direction his last time out, not issuing a walk for the first time this year. This time he still had that same control, and he was able to pair it with the crispest stuff I can remember seeing from him to start this year. His slider in particular was nails, and he kept the White Sox off the board through the first five innings.
He did get into a couple bits of trouble throughout the game, to be fair, though it wasn’t always his fault. In the first, Tim Anderson got into scoring position on a single and a steal, the latter being well-timed on a slow curveball. He was stranded. In the third, the wind came into play when Leury García hit what looked like a routine fly ball to left field, but instead died right after the infield. Alex Verdugo had to change course and sprint in, and came up short on a diving attempt. Chicago got two runners on in the inning, but they were again stranded.
But things weren’t going much better on the other side, with Cease being one of the hottest pitchers in the game and very much looking the part in this game. The mustachioed righty did let runners get on the corners in the first inning thanks to a pair of singles, but Verdugo couldn’t get that final hit they needed and left the runners standing there. That was the team’s best chance early on, with frustration really mounting in the third after Trevor Story struck out looking for the second time. He went down on borderline calls, but the zone was big all day and frankly he needs to swing, especially in the second at bat. Alex Cora disagreed, and was ultimately tossed for arguing balls and strikes.
Boston would get their next chance in the bottom half of the fifth after Franchy Cordero blooped a one-out single and Story drew a walk, putting two on with one down for the heart of the order. Rafael Devers was able to come through, smacking a double off the Monster to bring Cordero home and leave two in scoring position for Xander Bogaerts, still with one out. Bogaerts put the ball into play, but it was a grounder with the infield in, and Boston hd the contact play on, meaning Story broke for the plate on contact. It’s a play that I personally despise, and he was gunned down for the second out. J.D. Martinez struck out in the next at bat, and the Red Sox settled for just the 1-0 lead.
Pivetta then came back out for the sixth, finally pitching with a lead, but immediately gave up a single. A few weeks ago, it seems like that snowballs, but on Saturday he was able to bear down, ending the inning on a huge strikeout to end a nine-pitch at bat, keeping the Red Sox up by a run.
That would be the end of the day for Pivetta, getting through six strong, shutout innings, and Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the bullpen to protect the 1-0 lead. After striking out the first two batters, there was some potential for trouble when Leury García hit a single and then stole second with the ball getting into center field. Fortunately, García slipped around the base and had to stay at second, and Brasier ultimately got out of the inning with a ground ball to keep the lead in hand.
After a second straight 1-2-3 inning, it was still a one-run game and the Red Sox turned to John Schreiber to protect the lead with the meat of Chicago’s order coming up. It looked good early with two quick outs, but then he just had some bad luck. First, Luis Robert reached on a weak grounder to Devers at third base, and then José Abreu reached when Trevor Story failed to make a play going to his left in the shift, being charged with an error. That was the end of the day for Schreiber, with Matt Strahm coming in to try and finish off the inning. He got the job done, inducing a ground ball to strand the runners.
The offense again failed to provide insurance, leaving a one-run lead to be protected by Hansel Robles. It did not go well. The righty walked the first batter he faced, even with something of a gift call mixed in, before giving up a double to put a pair in scoring position, still with nobody out. García followed that up with a line drive out to right field for a sacrifice fly, and we were all tied up. Fortunately, he limited them to just the one run, but now the offense had to score again to pick up the win.
They got their chance in the ninth, with Jackie Bradley Jr. starting a rally with a one-out single, which was followed by a double from Christian Vázquez, putting a pair in scoring position for Bobby Dalbec. He couldn’t get it done, striking out look to leave it all up to Story. Instead, he swung at the first pitch he saw and popped it up, wasting a prime chance to win and sending the game to extras.
Matt Barnes came in for the 10th, coming off what Chaim Bloom called his best outing since the first half of last season. He didn’t pick up where he left off. Instead, he immediately gave up two straight doubles and the White Sox had a 3-1 lead after the top half of the 10th. You’ll be shocked to learn the Red Sox then went down in order in the bottom half, and that was that. Another excruciating loss for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox are now staring a fifth straight loss and a sweep directly in the eyes if they can’t recover on Sunday. They’ll have their hottest pitcher in Michael Wacha on the mound, and the White Sox counter with an ice-cold Dallas Keuchel. First pitch is set for 11:30 AM ET.