The Red Sox saw their mini two-game winning streak come to an end on a rainy Tuesday night with an 8-4 loss at the hands of the Rays at Fenway Park.
Nick Pivetta, making his 17th start of the season for Boston, struggled for the first time in a a while. Over 5 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander allowed a season-high seven earned runs on eight hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with just four strikeouts on the night.
Three of those seven runs came right away in the first inning, as Pivetta allowed the first three batters of the game to reach base before giving up a bases-clearing, three-run double to Kevin Kiermaier with one out. He escaped any further damage by getting Taylor Walls to line into an inning-ending double play.
Despite falling behind by three runs before taking their first at-bats, the Red Sox did not back down to the Rays. Matched up against old friend Jeffrey Springs, J.D. Martinez accounted for Boston’s first hit of the night on a two-out double in the bottom of the first. Moments later, Xander Bogaerts crushed a 413-foot two-run home run to dead centerfield off his former teammate to account for his side’s first two runs.
Bogaerts’ seventh home run of the season — and first in more than a month — left his bat at 103.9 mph and cut the Sox’ deficit down to one run at 3-2. In the bottom of the second, Trevor Story led things off by clubbing his 14th homer of the year — a 383-foot solo shot over the Green Monster that knotted the game up at 3-3.
Pivetta, meanwhile, was able to settle into his outing by stringing together four consecutive scoreless frames before running into more trouble in the sixth. There, he issued a leadoff walk to Wander Franco, who later scored on an RBI force out off the bat of Kiermaier that broke the 3-3 tie. After Randy Arozarena doubled to put runners at second and third, Walls drove in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly and Rene Pinto plated another on an infield single that was aided by some quality baserunning from Arozarena.
Pinto would prove to be the final batter Pivetta would face as he was got the hook from Sox manager Alex Cora. Jake Diekman relieved Pivetta and officially closed the book on the righty’s night by allowing the runner he inherited to score before ending things in the sixth.
Of the 85 pitches Pivetta threw on Tuesday, 56 went for strikes and only five of those were swing-and-miss inducing. The 29-year-old hurler was also charged with his sixth loss of the season as his ERA now sits at 3.68.
Moments before Pivetta took the mound in the sixth, the Red Sox had a golden opportunity to take their first lead of the night in the fifth. With Ryan Thompson now in the game for Tampa Bay, Rob Refsnyder and Martinez led off with a single and double to put runners at second and third with no outs. But neither runner was able to advance as Bogaerts grounded out, Christian Vazquez popped out, and Trevor Story struck out.
Hansel Robles was next out of the Boston bullpen in the seventh. His recent struggles only persisted as he walked two and gave up one run on an Isaac Paredes RBI single.
In the latter half of the seventh, the Sox were able to get that run back when Jarren Duran led off with a double and eventually scored on a Bogaerts sacrifice fly to cut Tampa Bay’s lead down to four runs at 8-4.
Tyler Danish held the Rays at eight runs by tossing a pair of scoreless innings, meaning the Red Sox were still trailing by four going into their half of the ninth. Duran and Refsnyder led off with back-to-back singles off Jason Adam. Adam followed that sequence by fanning Martinez and Bogaerts. Vazquez was then struck by a changeup to load the bases for Story.
Story, representing the potential tying run, popped out to Franco to end the game and ensure that Boston would go just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position while leaving 11 runners on base as a team.
With the loss, the Red Sox wrap up the first half of the 2022 season with a record of 45-36. They also fall to 9-17 against the American League East this year.
Next up: Bello Day
In the rubber match of this three-game set on Wednesday, it will be Brayan Bello making his first career start for the Red Sox. The 23-year-old right-hander is regarded by Baseball America as the top pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system.
On the other side of things, the Rays will counter with a seasoned veteran in right-hander Corey Kluber. First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)