4 takeaways as Red Sox earn convincing, 7-1 triumph over MLB-best Braves (2024)

Red Sox

The Red Sox made a statement Tuesday night and proved they belonged.

4 takeaways as Red Sox earn convincing, 7-1 triumph over MLB-best Braves (1)

By Trevor Hass

COMMENTARY

The surging Red Sox, who boast baseball’s best record since June 30, entered a two-game series against the Major League-leading Braves with a prime opportunity to prove they belong against an elite opponent.

Earn a split, and they could hold their heads high. Earn a sweep and they could make a statement.

They started convincingly Tuesday night in the opener, pulling away for a 7-1 victory at Fenway Park and showing once again that they’re capable of beating more than just sub.-500 teams. They’re now 6-1 in their last seven against opponents with a winning record.

Ahead of next Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Red Sox made another pitch to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom – who dealt infielder/outfielder Kiké Hernández to the Dodgers earlier in the day – that they can contend this season.

Nick Pivetta (5 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts) was terrific in relief, everyone in the starting lineup registered a hit, and the Red Sox (54-47) built an early lead and never relented. Boston is now 20-4 all-time in its bright yellow Nike City Connect Series uniforms.

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There were some hiccups along the way, including a woeful 8-3-5 triple play in the Braves’ (64-35) favor, but Boston did more than enough to move to 14-5 in its last 19.

“All around, a good one,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Besides the triple play.”

It was an action-packed start.

After a 1 hour, 40-minute rain delay, the Red Sox and Braves gave the fans who stuck around plenty of early-game entertainment.

Atlanta took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single to left from Sean Murphy that scored Ozzie Albies.

Marcell Ozuna then lined a John Schreiber delivery toward Christian Arroyo slightly to the right of second base. Arroyo knew he caught it, and he hustled over to second base to try and secure the double play.

He didn’t get there in time, so he hesitantly delivered a herky-jerky throw to first that skirted past Triston Casas. But, the umpires conferred and determined that Arroyo did, in fact, make the catch.

Cora told Schreiber to appeal. He did, Rafael Devers tagged the bag, and the Red Sox got the third out because Austin Riley left early from third on the previous play. Rather than another run and remaining threat, the Red Sox escaped allowing just one run in the inning.

The action continued in the bottom of the frame, when Justin Turner and Devers singled – Devers to punctuate an 11-pitch at-bat – and Adam Duvall walked to load the bases. Casas walked to plate Turner, Arroyo laced a single to third to drive in Devers, and Boston claimed a 2-1 edge through 1.

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Not only did they score two, but they also made Charlie Morton throw 33 pitches. They could have easily fallen behind by a significant margin, but instead, they managed to build a lead after a 32-minute first inning.

“As a team, we’re trying to score as much as we can,” Masataka Yoshida said, via a translator. “That’s the result we got in the first inning.”

They ran into a bizarre triple play in the third.

The Red Sox were opportunistic in the first inning. In the third, they were anything but. They even made history – not the good kind – in the process.

Casas floated a ball into shallow center and Duvall got caught in no-man’s land. He couldn’t make it back in time, then Yoshida ambitiously took off from second to third and was out by a few feet.

That’s right. A triple play – and not just any triple play. According to Baseball Almanac, it was the second 8-3-5 triple play ever, and the first since an 1884 game between the Boston Beaneaters (forerunners to today’s Braves) and the Providence Grays. That one was a classic. This one got more buzz on social media.

Another classic 2023 Red Sox moment.

Triple play on a Triston Casas flyout to CF. My oh my.pic.twitter.com/HBURsevwDN

— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) July 26, 2023

Give the Braves credit. They took advantage. At the same time, it was yet another easily avoidable, multi-pronged miscue from the Red Sox. They certainly have a knack for keeping things lively, but this was a new one.

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“Duvall just read it bad,” Cora said. “Then Masa took off to third when he threw to first.”

They bounced back quickly to extend their lead.

It didn’t take the Red Sox long to atone for their head-scratching blunder.

Pivetta retired the side in the fourth, then Jarren Duran drove in Yu Chang on a single to right and Devers plated Duran on a single to left to make it 4-1.

They knocked the typically steady right-hander Morton – who entered 10-7 with a 3.36 ERA – out of the game after just 3 2/3 innings and 80 pitches.

Perhaps most impressive of all was their discipline at the plate. The Red Sox earned five walks and struck out just once against a pitcher who entered with a strikeouts to walks ratio of 2.6.

The Red Sox, who entered leading Major League Baseball in average (.298), slugging percentage (.506), and OPS (.859), continued to put runs on the board – even against a solid pitcher and elite opponent.

They kept it rolling in the fifth. Casas floated a ball to center that was similar to the triple play, but this one found green. Chang (a .171 hitter coming in) then slapped a sharp single to left to drive in Casas and make it 5-1 Red Sox through 5.

Yoshida (3-for-4) added a two-run homer to right in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Pivetta did his job and then some

The plan all along was to have Schreiber pitch one inning. Pivetta entered cruise control from there.

Cora said he and Pivetta had an honest conversation, during which Pivetta told Cora he doesn’t necessarily like the role of reliever but that he plans on doing his best to embrace it.

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Pivetta, who became the only pitcher in MLB history to strike out 13 batters and allow no hits in relief against the A’s last Monday, has now struck out 19 and allowed just three hits and no runs in his last three appearances out of the bullpen.

Opponents are batting just .128 against Pivetta since he transitioned to the bullpen.

He mixed his pitches well Tuesday, walked just one, and gave the offense room to extend the lead.

“Nick did an outstanding job again,” Cora said. “Without his best stuff. Then we were able to close it down.”

Richard Bleier, Chris Martin, and Joely Rodríguez, and teamed up from there to secure the win against a potent lineup. Boston is now an MLB-best 41-2 when leading after six innings.

Next up, a 7:10 p.m. start Wednesday, with Brayan Bello on the mound, and a chance at a sweep against the best team in baseball.

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4 takeaways as Red Sox earn convincing, 7-1 triumph over MLB-best Braves (2024)
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