Back in their yellow City Connect uniforms, the Red Sox put an end to their five-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Guardians at Fenway Park on Monday night. Boston took the series opener from Cleveland to avoid falling under .500 and improve to 49-48 on the season.
Matched up against Guardians starter Zach Plesac to begin things on Monday, the Sox struck first in their half of the third. Jackie Bradley Jr. led the inning off with a 376-foot wallball double off the Green Monster. Yolmer Sanchez followed by immediately plating Bradley Jr. on an RBI single down the left field line.
At that moment, the skies above Fenway Park began to open and a 38-minute rain delay commenced. Plesac remained in the game for Cleveland on the other side of the delay.
Nick Pivetta, on the other hand, made his 20th start of the season for Boston. Having allowed six or more runs in each of previous three outings before the All-Star break, the right-hander bounced back nicely on Monday. He yielded just one run on seven hits, three walks, and six strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work.
That lone run came in the top half of the fifth. Myles Straw and Steven Kwan led off with back-to-back singles before Amed Rosario grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that moved Straw up to third base. With only one out to get, Pivetta gave up a game-tying single to Jose Ramirez that left the third baseman’s bat at a measly 58.6 mph.
Still, it was enough to drive in Straw and knot things up at one run apiece. Pivetta, meanwhile got through the fifth and recorded the first two outs of the sixth before allowing the final two batters he faced to reach base on a walk and single.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (62 strikes), Pivetta induced a total of 13 swings-and-misses while topping out at 96.4 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 51 times. The 29-year-old’s ERA on the season now sits at 4.35.
In relief of Pivetta, John Schreiber received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The righty officially closed the book on Pivetta’s night by stranding the two runners he inherited to keep the 1-1 tie intact going into the bottom of the sixth.
That is exactly where the Red Sox broke out for their most productive frame of the contest. Rob Refsnyder drew a leadoff walk off Plesac and broke the stalemate by scoring all the way from first on a go-ahead RBI double off the bat of Alex Verdugo that Steven Kwan struggled with in left field.
Following a Guardians pitching change, Xander Bogaerts greeted new reliever Trevor Stephan by moving Verdugo up to third on a single. Christian Vazquez then provided some insurance by driving in Verdugo on a softly-hit, run-scoring single up the middle.
That sequence events made it a 3-1 game in favor of Boston. From there, Schreiber picked up where he left off by punching out two in a scoreless seventh inning. Garrett Whitlock, who pitched on Sunday, was dispatched for the eighth inning and wound up retiring all six batters he faced to record his second save of the season and secure a 3-1 victory.
Next up: Winckowski returns
The Red Sox are expected to activate Josh Winckowski from the COVID-19 related injured list so that he can start on Tuesday. The rookie right-hander last pitched on July 13, allowing three runs over six innings against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Guardians have not yet named a starter. Regardless, first pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)