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Starting pitchers look for fresh start as Red Sox meet Blue Jays

Sportsnaut
Apr 15, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta (37) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park. Every player is wearing number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Two pitchers who are looking for better showings — and a victory — will start on Wednesday night when the Red Sox host the Toronto Blue Jays in the second of a three-game set in Boston.

Boston right-hander Nick Pivetta (0-2, 9.39 ERA) has taken two losses in as many starts, allowing four earned runs in each and nine total hits, including three home runs. Last Friday, Pivetta lasted just two innings and gave up five hits in a home start against the Minnesota Twins.

“Hopefully the mechanics are right,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Pivetta before Tuesday night’s series opener, a 2-1 Boston win. “The timing of his arm and everything else is not there. That’s why you see the velocity down. If you look at the games, the fastball wasn’t great and the slider was OK.”

Pivetta didn’t disagree with his manager.

“For me right now, that’s what it kind of feels like,” Pivetta said following last week’s start. “… I didn’t have that consistency with the velocity. Just didn’t feel great. It was disappointing. But just gotta keep moving forward from here.”

Pivetta has made seven starts against Toronto in his career, posting a 1-2 record and 5.77 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 39 innings.

He pitched six innings of one-hit ball and punched out five Jays in an Aug. 7, 2021, no-decision in his best outing of the year against Toronto.

On Tuesday, catcher Connor Wong produced the deciding run on a seventh-inning sacrifice fly in just his seventh career MLB game. Boston was held to three hits.

After Nathan Eovaldi needed 95 pitches to get through 4 2/3 innings, four relievers held the Jays scoreless to clinch the victory.

“(The relief pitchers) attacked the zone, made really good pitches, and that’s really all you can ask for,” Wong told NESN. “… I wasn’t trying to do too much (on the sacrifice fly) and just get a job done.”

Toronto right-hander Jose Berrios (0-0, 11.81 ERA) is still looking for a decision entering his third start of the young season, though he has allowed seven earned runs in 5 1/3 combined innings.

Making his third career Opening Day start, Berrios recorded just one out on April 8 against the Texas Rangers.

“I wasn’t locating well. I was throwing around the plate,” Berrios said after the start, the shortest of his career. “But on those days, you have to go out there and just try to keep competing. And I will. I feel good and proud that I still competed.”

Berrios did fare better in his most recent start Wednesday against the New York Yankees, pitching three-run ball with five strikeouts over five innings.

Berrios also will look to break a skid against Boston, as he is winless (0-5) with a 4.43 ERA in seven career starts. However, he has 46 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings in that span.

Toronto had won three straight series openers entering Tuesday. Designated hitter Zack Collins homered to highlight a 2-for-4 night.

Wong was recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Monday after catcher Kevin Plawecki was placed on the COVID-19 list.

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said he doesn’t see an advantage against opposing teams dealing with COVID issues. Boston starting pitcher Tanner Houck isn’t allowed to enter Canada because he isn’t vaccinated, for example.

“Rules are rules, and that’s why we couldn’t play in Toronto for two years,” Montoyo said. “And from experience, nobody (cares). Nobody cared about us when we were in Dunedin (Fla.) playing at the team’s spring facility.”

–Field Level Media