Nick Pivetta’s introduction to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night certainly did not go as planned in what would turn out to be his shortest outing of the year.
In what was his first career start against the Yankees as a member of the Red Sox, Pivetta got rocked for four runs — all of which were earned — on four hits and three walks to go along with one strikeout over just 1 2/3 innings of work.
Boston ultimately fell to New York by a final score of 5-2, as they were unable to avoid getting swept in three games by their division rivals in Wednesday’s series finale.
While the Sox’ offensive woes continued to drag on, the visitors actually struck first right away in their half of the first inning.
Matched up against Yankees left-hander Andrew Heaney, who came into the day having posted a 9.00 ERA through his first three starts with New York, Xander Bogaerts got the scoring started by crushing a two-out, 379-foot solo shot to the second deck in left field.
Bogaerts’ 19th home run of the season gave Boston the early 1-0 lead, but Pivetta ran into quite a bit of trouble in the second inning after retiring three of the first four batters he faced in the first.
There, the right-hander issued a leadoff single to Giancarlo Stanton that was followed by a seven-pitch walk of Rougned Odor. Gary Sanchez then lifted a softly-hit fly ball to shallow right field, but it was one that was just out of the reach of right fielder J.D. Martinez.
Odor, who initially retreated back to first base after he initially thought Martinez had made the tough catch, managed to advance to second, loading the bases with no outs for Brett Gardner.
Gardner drove in the tying run — Stanton — from third on a sacrifice fly to center field before New York’s No. 9 hitter, Andrew Velazquez, plated the go-ahead run on an RBI single through the right side of the infield.
That gave the Yankees their first lead of the night at 2-1, and after he stole second base and Rafael Devers made a fantastic play at third for the second out of the inning, Anthony Rizzo delivered with the back-breaker.
Just activated from the COVID-19 related injured list, Rizzo — down in the count at 0-2 — laced a line drive off Pivetta that deflected off the glove of Bobby Dalbec and rolled into foul territory in right field.
Rizzo’s base hit pushed across both Sanchez and Velazquez to make it a 4-1 contest, and it promptly marked the end of the line for Pivetta after he walked Stanton and got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 57 (36 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler wound up getting hit with his sixth loss of the season while seeing his ERA on the year inflate to 4.43.
The Red Sox bullpen, to its credit, was fairly effective in relief of Pivetta, as Garrett Richards, Martin Perez, and Adam Ottavino combined to toss 5 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball before Josh Taylor surrendered a run on two hits in the bottom of the eighth.
Still, just because the bullpen held the opposition at five runs to keep things relatively close at 5-1, that does not mean the offense was able to take advantage.
After Bogaerts got the Red Sox on the board with his solo home run in the first inning, Heaney countered by putting together his best outing in Pinstripes to date by allowing a total of one out and two walks the rest of the way.
From the start of the second inning through the middle of the seventh, the Sox did not send more than four batters to the plate, though they did have scarce opportunities to score more than one run.
In the top of the fourth, Bogaerts reached base on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and moved up to third on a Devers groundout, but was stranded there by Heaney when Martinez grounded out to end the inning.
In both the fifth and sixth innings, Boston led things off with a runner reaching base, though neither made it further than second on account of a flyout, a lineout, pop out, fly out, and 5-4-3 double play.
So, Heaney capped off his stellar night by retiring all the final five Red Sox hitters he faced to make way for the Yankees bullpen to take over in the eighth.
Fellow lefty Zack Britton followed suit by tossing a perfect frame in that eighth inning, but closer Aroldis Chapman certainly made things interesting in the ninth.
On a 2-1, 97 mph heater on the inner half of the plate, Renfroe turned a 5-1 game into a 5-2 game by sending his 22nd home run of the season 456 feet to deep right field.
A one-out walk from Bogaerts and two-out single off the bat of Martinez brought the tying run to the plate in Kevin Plawecki, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone countered by going back into his bullpen.
Matched up against Lucas Luetge now, Plawecki worked a full count and on the eighth pitch he saw from the lefty, ripped a grounder to the left side of the infield.
It took a Herculean effort from the shortstop in Velazquez, but the Bronx native was able to make a sprawling grab and get to his feet in time to gun down Plawecki at first for the final out of the contest.
That in turn, secured a 5-2 victory for the Yankees and 5-2 defeat for the Red Sox as they wind up getting swept out of Yankee Stadium.
With the loss, Boston falls to 69-54 and they are now six full games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.
Next up: Off day on Thursday, then a weekend series against the Rangers
The Red Sox will travel back to Boston on Wednesday night, enjoy an off day on Thursday, and welcome the lowly Rangers into town for the start of a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park on Friday.
Left-hander Chris Sale will make his second start of the season for Boston in Friday’s series opener, while Texas will turn to right-hander Dane Dunning.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)