Blue Jays strike early and often to top Red Sox – Lowell Sun



BOSTON — Nick Pivetta and the Red Sox are confident that better days are ahead this season for the right-hander. Right now, there’s nowhere really to go other than up.

And the Red Sox will certainly need more from their No. 2 starter.

For a second consecutive start, Pivetta struggled badly. The Blue Jays teed off on him in a five-run second inning, and that was too much for the sleepy Red Sox offense to overcome in a 6-1 loss at Fenway Park on a night when a couple of their stars suffered injury scares.

Pivetta was trusted by Alex Cora entering the season to hold down a spot at the top of a rotation that won’t have Chris Sale until at least June — a role he earned after a strong first full season in Boston — but so far, the results haven’t been there. He was knocked around in last Friday’s home opener, and he was crushed in the second inning of Wednesday’s loss in what proved to be the difference.

In three starts to open the season, Pivetta owns a 10.03 ERA.

The righty’s fastball velocity has been down from last season — though it was up a bit Wednesday — and his curveball, one of his go-to pitches, has been inconsistent. Cora said Pivetta’s mechanics haven’t been right, something he continues to work on with pitching coach Dave Bush in between starts. But the results were similar Wednesday.

Pivetta worked through a scoreless first but ran into trouble immediately in the second. Matt Chapman singled and Raimel Tapia took a curveball deep to right, and the floodgates opened. Pivetta ultimately walked three and gave up two more hits in a 43-pitch inning, as the Jays opened a 5-1 lead that the Sox couldn’t recover from.

Pivetta responded with back-to-back shutout innings in the third and fourth, however, to keep the game close and perhaps carry some momentum into his next start. But a night after recording just three hits but still winning, the Red Sox produced 10 hits Wednesday — including three doubles — but couldn’t rally. They went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

Other takeaways from Wednesday’s loss:

— J.D. Martinez left the game in the third inning with left adductor (hip) tightness after hitting a leadoff double. The designated hitter appeared to grimace as he rounded first and pull up as he approached second, and after the next batter Xander Bogaerts took one pitch, a trainer came out and Martinez exited soon after.

It wasn’t the only scare the Red Sox faced in that inning. Three batters later, Trevor Story was hit in the head with a 93-mph fastball from Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios. The Red Sox second baseman went down in pain and gathered himself for a few minutes — attended to by Cora and the training staff — before he ultimately stayed in the game and took his base.

— Matt Barnes didn’t have a clean seventh inning, but the reliever took some encouraging steps as he continues to work towards becoming a trusted bullpen arm for Cora. He should have had a shutout inning, as he struck out Tapia on a curveball. But a dropped strike allowed him to reach first and ultimately allow the Jays to score on a sac fly.

— Jackie Bradley Jr. has quietly become one of the Red Sox’ best hitters. With two singles on Wednesday, the outfielder is now 8 for 21 in his last seven games, a stretch that includes four doubles.

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