The Red Sox opened their weekend series against the Guardians by extending their winning streak to five consecutive games. Boston defeated Cleveland by a final score of 6-3 on Friday night to improve to 17-4 in June and 40-31 on the season.
Friday’s starting pitching matchup featured a pair of Canadian-born right-handers going at it, with Nick Pivetta making his 15th start of the year for the Sox and Cal Quantrill making his 13th start of the year for the Guardians.
Both pitchers gave up two runs, but it was Quantrill who blinked first. In the top half of the second, Trevor Story, Franchy Cordero, and Christian Vazquez all reached to fill the bases with two outs for Christian Arroyo. Arroyo, in his first game back from the COVID-19 related injured list, took a 95 mph sinker off his right elbow to drive in Story.
Boston’s early lead did not last long, however, as Pivetta yielded a one-out single to Andres Gimenez a half-inning later. Gimenez proceeded to steal second base with two outs, then scored from second on a hard-hit RBI single off the bat of Myles Straw.
That knotted things up at 1-1. But that, too, was short-lived. To lead things off in the third, Rafael Devers golfed an 0-2, 88 mph cutter from Quantrill and deposited it 411 feet to right field for his 17th home run of the year.
Pivetta nearly ran into trouble in the bottom of the third when he gave up a leadoff single to Amed Rosario. That was quickly negated, though, as Rosario ran past the second base bag on a Josh Naylor groundball and was promptly tagged out by Arroyo. Pivetta did, however, serve up a game-tying solo homer to Gimenez in the fourth.
In the top half of the fifth, Arroyo led off with a single and went from first to third on a line-drive double from Devers. J.D. Martinez then hit a 242-foot flyball in the direction of Guardians right fielder Oscar Gonzalez. Gonzalez caught the ball right before it hit the ground and, while on the run, managed to gun down Arroyo at home as he attempted to tag up from third.
So 2-2 is how the score remained after that inning-ending double play. Pivetta made relative quick work of the Guardians in the fifth and sixth innings before the Sox began to break away in the seventh.
After the pinch-hitting Rob Refsnyder drew a leadoff walk off Bryan Shaw, Arroyo followed by taking the veteran reliever 405 feet deep to left-center field for a go-ahead two-run home run. It was Arroyo’s fourth of the season and it put his side up 4-2. Martinez then reached base on a two-out single and scored all the way from first on an RBI double from Verdugo that made it a 5-2 game.
Pivetta wrapped up his solid night by retiring the final three batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh. The 29-year-old hurler wound up allowing just the two runs on nine hits and no walks to go along with four strikeouts over seven innings of work. He threw 98 pitches (66 strikes) and lowered his ERA on the season to 3.25.
In relief of Pivetta, John Schreiber received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The righty needed just 12 pitched (8 strikes) to retire the side in order in the eighth.
Refsnyder provided some late-game insurance in the top half of the ninth on a run-scoring double off Yohan Ramirez that drove in Story to make it a 6-2 contest.
Tanner Houck took over for Schreiber in the bottom of the ninth and immediately gave up back-to-back singles to Franmil Reyes and Gimenez. Houck then fanned Richie Palacios, but plunked Straw to fill the bases.
An RBI single from Steven Kwan plated Reyes and kept the bases loaded for Rosario, who struck out on a foul tip. That brought the dangerous Jose Ramirez to the plate representing the potential winning run. But Houck got him to ground out to Story and end the game.
It was no simple task, but Houck did just enough to secure a 6-3 victory for the Sox.
Next up: Winckowski vs. Bieber
The Red Sox will look to clinch their seventh consecutive series with another win over the Guardians on Saturday night. Rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski, who was born in nearby Toledo, will get the start for Boston while fellow righty Shane Bieber will do the same for Cleveland.
First pitch from Progressive Field is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Jason Miller/Getty Images)