Nick Pivetta, Red Sox hope to break out brooms vs. Indians

MLB

The Boston Red Sox will hope for less drama but results similar to the first two games of the series when they host the Cleveland Indians in the finale of a three-game set on Sunday afternoon.

Boston let leads slip away late on Friday and Saturday against Cleveland but came back each time to pull out impressive victories.

The latest heroics came courtesy of Alex Verdugo’s walk-off single with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning in a 4-3 win Saturday.

Boston led 3-0 entering the ninth after Rafael Devers’ three-run homer in the seventh, only for reliever Adam Ottavino to give up three runs — including two on Franmil Reyes’ tying two-out, two-run homer with Cleveland down to its final strike.

The Red Sox (79-59) pulled within a half-game of the rival New York Yankees for the top American League wild-card spot and moved four games clear of the Oakland A’s for the second wild card.

“Beginning of the year, we were really good at — hey, if we fell, gave up the lead, whatever — we didn’t care. We knew at some point (in the) seventh, eighth, ninth inning, we’re gonna come back,” Verdugo said. “It’s starting to feel that way again.”

On Friday, the Red Sox scored five times in the seventh en route to an 8-5 win after blowing a 3-1 lead in the top of the inning.

“The games we’ve played against the Red Sox … have been good baseball games. It’s been a swing back and forward,” Indians interim manager DeMarlo Hale said. “I compliment this team that they’re (going to) keep fighting.”

Cleveland (67-66) faces an uphill battle just to make the playoffs, sitting 9 1/2 games out in the wild-card race.

The Indians will send right-hander Zach Plesac (9-4, 4.49 ERA) to the mound opposite Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (9-7, 4.67A) in the finale.

Plesac is fresh off one of his best starts of the season after tossing seven scoreless, two-hit innings in a 7-2 win at Kansas City on Tuesday. The 26-year-old struck out seven and issued zero free passes for the seventh time as a starter this season.

Over his last four starts, Plesac has gone 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA and 22 strikeouts. He has lost just once in his last 15 starts — a 7-2 setback at Toronto on Aug. 3 — while posting an 8-1 record despite pitching to a 4.09 ERA.

Plesac will face the Red Sox for the first time since his rookie season in 2019.

Pivetta will look to snap a string of two losses over his last three outings. Boston dropped five of his six starts during August while the 28-year-old went 1-3 with a 5.27 ERA over 27 1/3 innings.

He has allowed four runs in each of his last three starts, including a 6-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Monday. Pivetta gave up six hits — including a home run — while walking a career-high five and striking out six in defeat.

Pivetta has never pitched against the Indians during his five-year career.

–Field Level Media

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