TORONTO - The conversations involving the Red Sox for the vast majority of Wednesday was about as uncomfortable as they had faced all season.
Two losses in a row. Continued struggles against the Blue Jays and the American League East. A not-ready-for-primetime bullpen. And, of course, the drama surrounding the absence of the unvaccinated Tanner Houck.
By the time 11 p.m. rolled around, the Red Sox had reeled back in some who had one foot off the bandwagon.
First and foremost, there was a win over the Blue Jays, with Alex Cora's club hanging on to a 6-5 win in 10 innings at Rogers Centre. But what made this night were a few key moments that scratched right where Red Sox fans were itching.
For starters, there was the bench-clearing kerfuffle, which kicked off due to Nick Pivetta hitting Alejandro Kirk with two outs in the third inning and the game tied at 1-1. Vlad Guerrero Jr. didn't like it, yelled out toward Pivetta and that's when the field was flooded.
"For me, Kirk’s a good hitter. He’s been hitting balls over the plate and I’m trying to throw him in. It’s gonna happen in the game," Pivetta said. "I don’t hit a lot of guys. I think it’s unwarranted the way they reacted. I think it’s spare parts, kind of lack of a better term. It’s not what I’m trying to do in that situation. I’m trying to win a baseball game. I’m not trying to let anybody else on base. It is what it is."
The starter added, "He was yelling at me. I didn’t think it was necessary for him to come out and start screaming at me. So that got me fired up and everybody else got fired up. That’s about it.”
It was the entire package Pivetta presented that allowed for the resurgence in atta-boys for the Red Sox. Not only did he display the fiery demeanor Sox fans have always loved - shouting back at Guerrero Jr. - but also served as the team's ace once again.
In beating Toronto's No. 1, Alex Manoah, Pivetta allowed two runs over six innings, throwing 109 pitches. In his last 11 outings he has a 1.85 ERA. And on top of everything, he actually got booed by his countrymen while walking off the mound in the seventh.
“I thought it was interesting. It is what it is. I hit their best hitter. Twice," Pivetta said of the crowd's displeasure.
“it was a really big game for me. I wanted to beat these guys. They’re a really good baseball club and they do the right things every single day. 1-9, they’re really good. 1-9, they have a really good approach, really good hitters. They always go to battle. They battled tonight and we did better. What really shows is that last night was last night but we were able to move on and get a win here tonight which was really important.”
Offensively, Alex Verdugo was undoubtedly the guy all eyes were on, first launching a two-run homer to five his team a 3-2 lead, and then supplying a much-needed two-run double in the 10th.
But it was his lengthy, somewhat animated home run trot - coming a half-inning after the benches emptied - that sealed his social media popularity.
"I think it’s definitely a good rivalry," said Verdugo, who is 16-for-39 during his current 10-game hit streak. "For me there is no bad blood in there. When we’re all competing we just want to have that last ‘Hoorah!’ Like, ‘Hey bro, we got you today.’ That’s just the way I see it. You’ve got a lot of people I like over there, but this is the business when we’re playing the game. We have to lock it in and get to where we need to be."
This was just what the Red Sox - and their uneasy fan base - ordered.
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