The Boston Red Sox hope to ride the momentum of a stirring comeback victory into a series split against the visiting New York Yankees on Sunday night.
While that might not sound like much, consider that the Red Sox have lost all eight series this season against American League East teams.
New York posted 6-5 and 12-5 victories to open this series before Boston bounced back with three runs in the 10th inning of a 6-5 win on Saturday.
Alex Verdugo drove in a run to forge a tie in the eighth inning and ripped a two-run single to end the game in the 10th.
“(Verdugo) is swinging the bat well, he’s staying on pitches, he’s been clutch for us lately … worked the count to his advantage at the end and put on another great swing,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
And lest we forget, a guy named Jeter (Downs) made his presence felt by recording his first career hit — an RBI single in the 10th inning — and scoring the game-winning run.
Downs recalled that Derek Jeter wished him luck — albeit with a caveat — when he made his major league debut last month.
“Congratulations and good luck … unless you are playing the Yankees,” the former Yankees captain wrote to him at the time.
Downs said of that note on Saturday: “Pretty ironic. … You can’t write a better story.”
Sunday starter Nick Pivetta (8-6, 3.68 ERA) will look to pen a better ending than the one he received in his last outing. The Boston right-hander surrendered a season-high seven runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings of an 8-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
Pivetta, 29, is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) vs. New York. He took the loss on April 9 after permitting four runs on as many hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-2 setback.
Yankees right-hander Jameson Taillon (9-2, 3.63) also will look to rebound from a tough start when he takes the mound on Sunday.
Taillon, 30, yielded five runs on six hits — including two homers — in a 5-2 setback against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.
He has been taken deep four times and allowed 14 earned runs and 23 hits in 16 innings over his last three starts.
“It’s obviously concerning,” Taillon said. “I need to figure it out and make a change. It’s a results-oriented league, but at the same time, I feel healthy and am making quality pitches.”
Taillon is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in four career starts vs. Boston.
He also won’t have to worry about All-Star third baseman Rafael Devers, who will be out until at least Monday because of a sore back.
“He’s been battling this for a while,” Cora said. “We have to be smart.”
New York’s Anthony Rizzo returned from a back injury to contribute a pair of RBI doubles on Saturday. He is 5-for-15 with two homers and eight RBIs in four games vs. Boston this season.
–Field Level Media