The Red Sox won their first series in a little over a week on Saturday after downing the Oakland Athletics, 8-0 in game two of a three-game set. Nick Pivetta was, again, terrific. The Red Sox hit the Athletics’ starter, Paul Blackburn hard but wound up not needing many of those runs as Pivetta twirled a shutout from the mound.
Still, the offense, even if it wasn’t necessary, was fun to watch. The Sox put good swings on balls and conducted patient appearances at the plate. They didn’t try to do too much and wound up making good contact for base hits that kept the line moving. They even threw in some nice infield defense as a little treat too!
More details on how the Sox won follow below.
The Red Sox offense took a couple of innings to wake up, but once they did, the runs kept flowing.
There was some hard contact in the first. Jarren Duran slapped a 106 mph liner, but it ended up right at the shortstop, Elvis Andrus and Enrique Hernandez rocketed a 102 mph ground out, but none of them resulted in base runners. The first baserunner of the game, Alex Verdugo, reached when third baseman Chad Pinder lost a pop-up in the sky and even he got thrown out trying to take second.
Trevor Story snuck a double down the left-field line to lead off the top of the third and, after Franchy Cordero walked, Christain Vazquez doubled to nearly the same spot as Story, driving in one to give the Sox an early lead. Then Duran and Enrique Hernandez struck out, leaving two on and two out for Rafael Devers, who drove them in with a casual single back up the middle to make it 3-0, Red Sox. They added another in the fourth thanks to another double from Verdugo. Bogaerts, who reached on a walk the at bat prior, scored standing up after coming in all the way from first.
They chased A’s starter Paul Blackburn, who entered the game ranking third among American League pitchers with a 2.4 WAR, in the fourth after he had already surrendered four runs on seven hits. The Sox really made him work for his outs but struggled against his replacements from the Oakland bullpen.
Lou Trivino, A.J. Puck and Sam Selman combined to throw three efficient, scoreless innings in relief of Blackburn. They needed just 42 pitches to get nine outs — four of which were strikeouts. They allowed just one batted ball with an exit velocity north of 95 mph.
In the fifth, the Red Sox really had a chance to blow the game open after Duran, Hernandez and Bogaerts singled but a strikeout by Martinez and a flyout from Verdugo ended the inning before Boston could push any more runs across.
It wasn’t until the eighth that the Red Sox put the game away. They struck for four runs during their penultimate turn at the plate and it even got to the point that Alex Cora sat Devers for his last at bat and let Bobby Dalbec make an appearance. Three straight hits from Martinez, Verdugo and Bogaerts sparked the onslaught, which didn’t end until the Sox had batted around and collected the four runs on six hits and a walk.
Meanwhile, Nick Pivetta cruised through seven innings without allowing a run and didn’t face much resistance from the Athletics lineup. Just three players reached base and only one got past second base as Pivetta made it through his day having thrown an even 100 pitches.
It was a no-nonsense outing for Pivetta against the lowly Athletics. He leaned heavily on the fastball to challenge hitters and, while it resulted in some hard contact, didn’t yield any damage. Maybe it’s just because the bullpen has been unreliable of late, but I love that Alex Cora let him roll through the A’s order three times. More often than not, I think if a guy is hot, you should let him rock. Worked out well tonight.
Elvis Andrus was the first Athletic to reach and he did so with two outs in the second. He doubled into the seemingly endless Oakland Colesium outfield, but Pivetta fanned Sean Murphy looking — his third strikeout of the inning — to neutralize the threat. Ramon Laureano doubled and took third on a stolen base in the fourth, but that’s as far as he got.
Tanner Houck relieved Pivetta and he gave up a single to Tony Kemp, who tried to score on an errant throw by Dalbec at third, but some good hustle allowed Franchy Cordero enough time to throw home and catch Kemp in between. He retreated to third but Vazquez still cut him down to end the inning. Houck made it through the eighth on just 13 pitches.
Hirokazu Sawamura took the ninth and had no trouble disposing of the middle of Oakland’s order.
With this win, the Red Sox improve to 26-27 and inch closer to that tantalizingly close .500 mark. They’ll send Rich Hill to the mound tomorrow afternoon for another 4:07 p.m. matinee against the Athletics.