Off to opposite starts, A’s host Red Sox in series finale

Nick Pivetta will try to get Boston’s rotation back on track when the Red Sox wrap up a three-game series with the host Oakland Athletics on Wednesday afternoon.

Red Sox starters were stunning through the first five games of the season, combining to allow just five runs (four earned) across 28 innings, good for an ERA of 1.29.

Of the five pitchers who started, Pivetta (0-1, 1.50 ERA) was among three who worked six innings, while the other two lasted five. Opponents mustered 17 hits against the starting rotation, which racked up 37 strikeouts against just one walk.

But Boston finally experienced a hiccup on Tuesday when starter Brayan Bello was knocked around for four runs on five hits in five innings against Oakland. Still, the Red Sox came away with a 5-4 win in 11 innings, and now they have a chance to complete a three-game sweep of the A’s.

“Total team effort,” Boston manager Alex Cora said of Tuesday’s victory. “From the beginning, we had to grind.”

Even though it got to Bello, Oakland couldn’t break through against Boston’s bullpen, which logged six scoreless innings.

Josh Winckowski, who earned the win by silencing the Athletics in the 10th and 11th, said it’s not just the starters who are clicking. It’s the relievers, too.

“We’re pitching for each other to pick each other up,” Winckowski said. “Our leaders (Chris Martin) and Kenley (Jansen) are doing their things as always, and we’re just trying to follow their footsteps. The guys are rolling good.”

In his season debut, Pivetta took a loss against the Seattle Mariners on Friday despite giving up just one run on three hits. He didn’t walk anyone and fanned 10 in the 1-0 loss.

Pivetta is 5-0 with a glistening 0.82 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) against Oakland.

Fellow right-hander Ross Stripling (0-1, 7.20 ERA) will oppose Pivetta on Wednesday after allowing five runs (four earned) and seven hits in five innings against the Cleveland Guardians on Friday. Stripling was tagged with the loss, and he hasn’t picked up a win since Oct. 1, 2022, while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The most recent team he beat? The Red Sox.

With that victory, Stripling improved to 4-3 in 12 career appearances (11 starts) vs. Boston. He has a 4.47 ERA in those games.

If he wants to take down the Red Sox again, he will need help from the Athletics’ lineup, which has yet to score more than four runs in a game this season. Oakland already has been shut out twice, limping to a 1-5 record to start the campaign.

Esteury Ruiz had been one of the few bright spots for the A’s in the early going, but he was surprisingly sent to Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday. Ruiz was 3-for-7 (.429) with two runs, an RBI, a double and a triple in three games.

“The reality is, to use his skills, he needs to get on base,” Oakland general manager David Forst said. “He needs to be able to do that on a consistent basis. I’m hoping with him leading off every day in Triple-A, it’s not a long stay for him down there.”

–Field Level Media