2 years ago

ARLINGTON — Nick Pivetta’s first three starts compared to his last three are almost polar opposites.

Admittedly, those first three starts weren’t pretty. The 29-year-old right-hander posted a 10.03 ERA (13 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings) to open the season 0-3. But some time during his third start against Toronto, manager Alex Cora believes Pivetta found something on the mound.

“He’s been working hard in the bullpen and he’s been finding his rhythm,” Cora said.

Whatever it was, he carried it through the next few games, getting better and better with each start. Pivetta picked up his first win of the 2022 season on Friday in Boston’s 7-1 victory against the Rangers at Globe Life Field.

Pivetta has only allowed one run through his last 13 innings pitched and has issued just one walk since April 26 against Toronto. That run came off a wild pitch in the seventh inning of Friday’s game, but with a hot offense to back him up, the win was already in his pocket.

“I’m just trying to focus on competing in the zone,” Pivetta said. “My stuff plays in the zone. I have a good curveball, a good slider, the [splitter] is coming along really well. So just focusing on those aspects and not trying to get too much outside of myself and try to do too much like I was.”

Boston has now won three of its last 10 games. The numbers might not show it, but Cora believes the effort is there. He doesn’t even have to question the team’s fortitude heading into games because he knows Boston is going to show up and play hard, even if it has yet to reflect in the standings.

The Red Sox did exactly what Cora expected from them on Friday, stringing together 10 hits and going 5-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Outfielder Kiké Hernández reached base four times, while J.D. Martinez extended his hitting streak to 14 games and his on-base streak to 30 games. Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-5 with a run and two RBIs.

“We scored all those runs, but it started with a hustle play,” Cora said.

Cora said Bogaerts’ broken-bat single in Boston’s four-run sixth inning changed the game. It was the second of a series of hits that helped the Red Sox add some insurance to the slim 1-0 lead they held heading into that inning.

“He hustled to first and he changed the game with that play,” Cora said. “Overall, it was a good offensive night. We did a lot of good things.”

Left fielder Alex Verdugo left the game in the seventh inning with a right foot contusion. Cora said Verdugo’s X-rays came back negative.

“We’ll see how he comes in tomorrow and go from there,” Cora said.