Red Sox pitcher Nick Pivetta put together a performance that won’t soon be forgotten Sunday in Boston’s 6-4, extra-innings win against the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series.
Pivetta went four innings in relief — 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th frames — before earning the win. His 67 pitches and seven strikeouts were all the more impressive considering he pitched 4 2/3 innings during Thursday’s Game 1. He gave the Red Sox a chance to win that game, as well.
“We were going into it all-in and they know it. We texted all the starters yesterday, and we put ‘spikes on,’ and they understand what that is,” manager Alex Cora said after the win, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “He (Pivetta) understands that. He did an amazing job in Tampa and today was amazing. Very similar to Nate (Eovaldi) in Game 3 of the World Series a few years ago. He was locked in, good fastball, good breaking ball — with traffic, with no traffic. Very emotional. These people (the crowd), wow, that was better than Tuesday, to be honest with you. That was fun.”
Pivetta noted how his competitiveness was what had him as emotional as he was upon coming off the field in between innings — and he was electric while pounding his chest and literally running off the diamond.
“We’ve seen it before. We saw it in Oakland, we saw it in Tampa, there have been a few games where he just gets, he goes somewhere else mentally and physically,” Cora said of Pivetta. “He was locked in. He did an amazing job for us.”
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Rays:
— Christian Vázquez came away with the walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th inning. His two-run shot, which scored Hunter Renfroe after a one-out walk, propelled Boston to a 2-1 lead int he best-of-five series.
“Christian, he works so hard on his craft. He cares so much about this organization, that for him to be in that spot and to put on a good swing and hit the ball out of the ballpark, I know it means a lot to him, it means a lot to us,” Cora said.
— The Rays were dealt a tough break with two outs in the top of the 13th inning. Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermier hit the ball to deep right field, bouncing off the wall and then bouncing off Renfroe and over the right-field fence. The hit by Kiermier was determined a ground-rule double, which meant Yandy Diaz, who would have scored from first base, was held up at third and Kiermier was stopped at second. The Rays, obviously, did not either of those two runners in.
“He hit it pretty well, and I was actually going for the catch and happened to look up and the wall was right there,” Renfroe said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “It hit the top of the wall, ricocheted off the ground, hit me in the right hip and thankfully bounced over the fence. … It would be the same as if you were going down the line, it hit your glove and bounced over — same thing.”
— Kiké Hernández continues to set records. The Red Sox center fielder, who recorded the most hits in a playoff contest (five) during Game 2 on Friday, set another postseason record for the most hits in a two-game span (eight). Hernández also moved into a four-way tie for most extra-base hits in a single series (five) in franchise history, according to Red Sox Notes. If Hernández tallies one more extra-base hit in the final two games, he will have the record outright.
— Cora said Hansel Robles was not feeling well after his eighth-inning performance was over.
“He was feeling sick after that,” Cora said. “He wasn’t feeling great. That’s why they called the trainer. We were going to take him out in that spot anyway.”
— Kyle Schwarber had a hilarious moment in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game, essentially making fun of himself and getting a laugh from many. Schwarber jokingly waved and took his hat off in salute of the Boston crowd after a very routine ground ball, which he flipped to Eovaldi for a routine defensive play. It came shortly after Schwarber botched a toss to Eovaldi on almost the exact same play.
“You got to be able to make fun of yourself every once in a well, right?,” Schwarber said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “Got a laugh out of pretty much everyone. … It was fun.”
— With Pivetta, the scheduled pitcher for Game 4 taking over the late innings of Game 3, the right-hander will not be available. Instead, Cora explained how Eduardo Rodriguez will be the likely starter for the win-and-advance contest on Marathon Monday.
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