Early Offensive Onslaught Almost Not Enough to Withstand Pittsburgh Comeback

August 16

Sunday’s game took only 2 hours and 15 minutes; the last time the Sox played the Yankees in that time was 2018. It was the second-shortest game played by the clubs since a 2-hour, 13-minute affair in 1994. Prior to the game, the Sox took Kiké Hernández and Rob Refsnyder from the injured list, as well as designating Yolmer Sánchez for assignment. Having Hernández back in the outfield is a boost whose magnitude can’t be quantified, and it should help the Red Sox turn the tide a bit in the last month and a half of their season. Mitch Keller pitches for the Pirates against Pivetta as the Sox take their first trip to Pittsburgh since 2014. Red Sox color commentator Dennis Eckersley refers to the Pirates’ lineup as "really a Triple-A lineup," and I don't disagree. Keller allows the Sox to load the bases with nobody out on just 15 pitches. Verdugo then singles into right to give the Sox the early 1-0 lead as Pham scores. Devers scores on an Arroyo single to center to make it 2-0. Hosmer hits a bloop single to left to score Martinez and make it 3-0. Hernández makes contact with the first pitch he sees and drives in Verdugo with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0. The Pirates have recorded the first out after 26 pitches, and a double play ends a 30-pitch inning of misery for Pittsburgh. It’s been a long time since a Red Sox pitcher got that kind of support that early! Pivetta has yet to take the mound!

The Pirates look to get back in it quickly, and so they put two on with two out in the bottom of the frame, but Pivetta induces a groundout to get out of it. He needs just 16 pitches in his half. The Sox put two on with two out in the top of the second for Verdugo, who hits a long fly ball that Reynolds drops on the warning track, thus allowing a man to score and make it a rout at 5-0. That is all they get. Keller does not come back to pitch the third. That’s not surprising. On the other hand, Pivetta breezes through his start, allowing just one hit in the first seven innings before the bullpen takes over. In fact, it becomes a pitching duel after the early offensive explosion. According to Alex Speier, this is the first time since 2014 the Sox have had consecutive efforts of at least seven innings of shutout ball from their starters. However, the Pirates put two on with one out in the bottom of the eighth, their first genuine threat in hours. A single loads the bases and forces a pitching change because the lead is no longer secure. Reynolds strikes out for the second out of the frame and gets tossed yelling at the plate umpire. Gamel then doubles to right to clear the bases and put Pittsburgh back in it at 5-3. The tying run flies out, so Boston retains its lead and eventually wins by that final.