Tied in the early going for the best record in the American League, the Boston Red Sox know there is still plenty of room for improvement, which they hope can continue Thursday in the opener of a four-game home series against the Seattle Mariners.
While they are 12-7, even with the Oakland Athletics for tops in the AL, the Red Sox are just 6-6 at Fenway Park. Boston will continue a homestand that began with series against the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.
The Red Sox are just 3-3 on the homestand, and they are coming off a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Boston fell behind 4-0 after two innings as starter Garrett Richards struggled to find his command, finishing with six walks over 4 2/3 innings. The Red Sox rallied to within a run on a Xander Bogaerts home run in the eighth inning before losing.
Richards will be an observer against the Mariners, with right-hander Nick Pivetta (2-0, 3.68 ERA) starting for Boston in the series opener. Pivetta was added late last season in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, while Richards was signed as a free agent in February as the Red Sox retooled their rotation.
“When we have electric arms like we have now, it’s easier to call games,” Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez said Wednesday. “It’s a plus for the team, for me, for everybody. I think that’s the key. Strike one, and after that expand (the zone). I think that’s the key for the success we’re having right now.”
Pivetta has his own issues, as his 11 walks are tied for third most in the AL. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings in an inefficient outing Saturday, throwing 83 pitches against the White Sox, walking four of the 19 batters he faced.
Despite 97 career appearances and 76 starts, mostly in the National League, Pivetta has never faced the Mariners.
At 11-7, Seattle is in the early hunt for the AL’s best record as well and will enter off a competitive two-game series against the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Mariners defeated the Dodgers 4-3 on Monday but fell 1-0 on Tuesday when they managed just one hit. They gave up just two hits, though, in a game started by left-hander Marco Gonzales.
“We got the defending champs in here, and in both games, we really stepped up and played great against these guys,” Gonzales said.
Seattle manager Scott Servais added, “We’re playing good baseball … We did miss a couple opportunities (against the Dodgers) there late. We just couldn’t get much going offensively.”
Winners in five of their past seven games, the Mariners will send right-hander Justin Dunn (1-0, 3.72 ERA) to the mound Thursday. Dunn gave up one run over five-plus innings on April 15 in a victory over the Baltimore Orioles. That was far better than his season debut on April 7, when he walked eight against the White Sox.
Dunn has never faced the Red Sox in 16 career starts.
–Field Level Media