With an exhausted bullpen and James Paxton pushed all the way back to next Tuesday (10 days rest), Alex Cora needed Nick Pivetta to put the Red Sox on his back in Wednesday night’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Instead, Pivetta became the latest starter to make an early exit. The 30-year-old right-hander lasted just 4 ⅔ innings, giving up a pair of solo home runs and an RBI double before Cora strode out to the mound, forced to go to his beleaguered relief core too soon once again.
Of course, Pivetta is tired, too. He’s worked every possible role this season, yanked from the rotation, slotted into the bullpen, then called back to make sporadic starts on an as-need basis. Brayan Bello is the only pitcher on the staff with more innings (137) this season.
His manager had nothing but high praise for him. “Nick was outstanding,” Cora told reporters. “He pitched with three days rest and went out there and competed.”
“I told him on the mound, I said, ‘Thank you, bro,” the Red Sox manager revealed. “What he did today, that was, that was good to see… every time he takes the baseball, he’s been outstanding. He prepares, he wants to compete, and he’s been great.”
Ultimately, their starter wasn’t the reason why the Rays bested the Red Sox 3-1. Boston struck first for the first time in the series, but mostly, they struck out. Other than Connor Wong’s RBI triple for a short-lived 1-0 lead in the top of the third, but otherwise, Tyler Glasnow was meticulous and overpowering.
In his six-inning start, the Rays ace held the visitors to three hits and a walk and racked up 14 strikeouts to match his career-high. Since the year 2000, Mike Mussina (September 24, 2000) and Yu Darvish (May 5, 2013) are the only other pitchers with 14 or more strikeouts against the Red Sox, but Glasnow is the first ever to do so in as little as six innings.
The Red Sox only trailed by two runs when Glasnow’s night ended, but it may as well have been 20. After plating that one run in the top of the third, they went hitless in the subsequent four frames before Ceddanne Rafaela took over for Wilyer Abreu and added a pinch-hit double to the tally, only to be left on base.
When the Red Sox called Rafaela up last week, Cora declared that their No. 3 prospect wouldn’t play any other infield positions than shortstop. Therefore, it was surprising to see the 22-year-old Curaçao native take over at second base – a position he hadn’t played since A-ball – in the bottom of the eighth. No matter, the defensive standout handled the unfamiliar territory just fine.
Maurcio Llovera was the other bright spot in this quiet contest. The 27-year-old righty, whom the Red Sox acquired from the San Francisco Giants at the end of July, pitched the last three innings. He held the Rays to one hit and one walk, giving the Red Sox ample time to mount a comeback that never came.
“Llovy was outstanding, too,” Cora lauded. “Three innings, he hasn’t done that with us (before).”
By game’s end, the Red Sox had struck out 17 times, including twice in the ninth. Justin Turner and Adam Duvall, usually difference-makers at the plate, each struck out four times.
“We didn’t do much offensively,” Cora said, unable to deny the obvious.
The Red Sox also found yet another way to hurt themselves defensively in the bottom of the fourth when Jose Siri put a ball in play. Rafael Devers quickly scooped up the infield dribbler, but seeing he had no play at first base, he pivoted to Osleivis Basabe, who was racing toward third. Devers tossed the ball to Trevor Story, who lobbed it to Enmanuel Valdez. As the rookie closed in on Basabe, he threw the ball to Pivetta, who dropped it.
In this series, the Red Sox threw everything at the walls of the Trop, hoping enough would stick. Ultimately, the Rays, as depleted as they may seem without several of their key players, still came out on top.
After yet another frustrating, close loss, Cora tried to put his best spin on the situation.
“Regardless of what people think, I’m very pleased with the way we played today.”
“There was a lot of good stuff that happened here tonight,” the manager explained. “Showing up and grinding the way we did, with where we were bullpen-wise.
“I know it sucks, and there’s no moral victories, you know? But we feel good. We’re going home now, and if we want to gain ground, we got a chance now.”
Coming home may not be such a comfort though.
The first-place Baltimore Orioles are coming to town for the weekend.
Denial of responsibility! Planetconcerns is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.