Despite strong start from Nick Pivetta, Red Sox squander late scoring opportunity and fall to unbeaten Rays, 1-0

The Red Sox battled in an effort to hand the Rays their first loss of the season on Monday night, but ultimately came up short. Boston fell to Tampa Bay by a final score of 1-0 in the opener of this four-game series at Tropicana Field.

Nick Pivetta put forth a valiant effort in his second start of the season for the Sox. The right-hander scattered just three hits and two walks to go along with six strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work.

The Rays threatened by putting one runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but Pivetta did not falter. With one out and runners at first and second the bottom of the third, center fielder Rob Refsnyder robbed Randy Arozarena of extra bases by making a fantastic sliding grab on the warning track to snag a 99.1 mph line drive.

Pivetta got through the rest of the third unscathed by getting Wander Franco to ground out. He then proceeded to retire six of the last seven batters he faced from the middle of the fourth through the end of the fifth. The 30-year-old hurler finished with 83 pitches (53 strikes) and induced 14 swings-and-misses while lowering his ERA on the season to 0.90.

In relief of Pivetta, Josh Winckowski got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Winckowski made quick work of the Rays’ 3-4-5 hitters in the sixth and put up another zero in the seventh.

Heading into the eighth still deadlocked in a 0-0 tie, the Red Sox put together their best scoring opportunity of the night. Having already been held in check by Jalen Beeks, Josh Fleming, and Garrett Cleavinger, Alex Verdugo led off the inning by drawing a five-pitch walk off Rays lefty Colin Poche. A pinch-hit single from Bobby Dalbec and two-out walk from Enrique Hernandez loaded the bases for Rafael Devers.

Devers, in turn, fouled off two of the first three pitches he saw before Poche froze him on an 0-2, 93 mph four-seamer down and away to end the inning and extinguish the threat.

Chris Martin, who had yet to give up a run through his first five appearances of the season, was responsible for the latter half of the eighth. He got the first out of the inning before serving up a go-ahead solo home run to Brandon Lowe on a 3-2, 96 mph heater at the top of the zone.

Lowe’s homer, which came on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, had an exit velocity of 107.9 mph and travelled 404 feet into the right field seats. It also put Tampa Bay up, 1-0, going into the ninth. Pete Fairbanks, the first righty the Rays used all night, struck out Justin Turner before getting both Masataka Yoshida and the pinch-hitting Raimel Tapia to ground out to end it.

All told, the Red Sox went just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left five runners on base as a team in Monday’s loss. At two hours and six minutes, the game was Boston’s fastest of the season by 26 minutes

With the loss, Boston falls back to .500 at 5-5. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, remains unbeaten and improves to 10-0 to start the year, becoming the first team to accomplish that feat since the 1987 Brewers.

Next up: Whitlock’s 2023 debut on tap

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Rays on Tuesday night. Right-hander Garrett Whitlock will come off the injured list and make his season debut for Boston. Tampa Bay will counter with left-hander Shane McClanahan.

In order to activate Whitlock, the Red Sox will need to send someone down to make room on the 26-man roster.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN+.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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