After the Boston Red Sox avoided a three-game sweep against one American League West division opponent, they will look to regain their momentum against another.
Boston will open a three-game weekend series against the last-place Los Angeles Angels on Friday night at Fenway Park, one day after taking out its frustrations against first-place Oakland in an 8-1 rout.
The Red Sox had been outscored 7-3 in dropping the first two games of the series to the Athletics, but they broke out of their slump by pounding out 13 hits to help snap a three-game skid in the finale.
“(We) just kept rolling,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It was cool to see them add on and give (our pitchers) margin for error. We were able to do a lot of things.”
Nick Pivetta aims to keep Boston headed in the right direction on the mound as he seeks an American League-leading sixth win.
The 28-year-old right-hander has become one of Boston’s most reliable arms after being acquired from Philadelphia before last season’s trade deadline.
Pivetta (5-0, 3.19 ERA) has won three straight starts and has allowed three runs or fewer in six of his seven starts this season.
However, he might not be at his peak physically after landing on Boston’s COVID-19-related injury list on Wednesday due to side effects from a vaccine. He was re-activated before Thursday’s game.
If Pivetta is on top of his game, the Angels’ hitters might be in for a rough evening. Pivetta boasts an opponent batting average of .190 and an opposing on-base percentage of .315 in 150 plate appearances this season.
Pivetta has never faced the Angels, but catcher Kurt Suzuki is 4-for-12 with a home run and two RBIs lifetime against him.
Los Angeles squandered a chance at gaining its own momentum, dropping a three-game series in Houston earlier this week after taking two of three against the rival Dodgers, May 7-9.
The Angels beat the Astros 5-4 in the opener Monday but lost 5-1 on Tuesday and 9-1 on Wednesday. Los Angeles has won just three of its last 11 games.
Griffin Canning will be tasked with trying to reverse that trend for the Angels as he seeks his third straight win on the mound.
Canning (3-2, 5.19 ERA) tossed a season-high 5 2/3 innings while allowing one run on six hits, with three walks and four strikeouts, in a 9-2 win over the Dodgers on May 7.
In his last two starts, Canning has allowed just two runs and struck out 13 over 11 innings. He began the season by allowing 14 runs in 15 innings over his first four starts.
“I just think him trusting himself, trusting his fastball, being convicted to the pitch — that’s the difference,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s not about spending more time studying a video or learning something new or different or working on your mechanics. … I’m really seeing him getting after hitters a lot more aggressively than he had.”
Canning has never faced Boston. Former Dodger Alex Verdugo is the only current Red Sox batter who has faced Canning, going 0-for-2.
–Field Level Media