The Boston Red Sox will look to break out of their late-July funk as their three-game interleague series against the Milwaukee Brewers continues on Saturday afternoon.
With a 4-1 loss to Milwaukee on Friday in the series opener, Boston slipped to 2-6 during its homestand that began after the All-Star break. The Red Sox are 7-18 in July overall.
The Red Sox have allowed four or fewer runs in three of their past five games, but they averaged only 3.4 runs in those five contests. They went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position on Friday.
“(The Brewers’) stuff is really good, but we just have to find a way (to score runs),” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We haven’t done a good job with runners in scoring position for like a month and a half.”
Another contributing factor to Boston’s cold spell is that its starting pitchers haven’t recorded a single win in July. Nick Pivetta will look to change that on Saturday.
Pivetta (8-7, 4.35 ERA) put together his best start in nearly a month on Monday, holding the Cleveland Guardians scoreless until the fifth inning and totaling six strikeouts while yielding one run in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander didn’t factor into the decision in an eventual 3-1 Red Sox win.
Pivetta, who will be making his team-leading 21st start of the season, allowed 20 runs in a three-start span prior to his most recent outing.
“He was better,” Cora said after the Monday game. “Velocity was up, I think the curveball was good today, his slider was OK, but a lot better, better rhythm. I think the fastball, when he used it, was obviously at 94-95 (mph), but he went through some good spots and gave us a chance to win.”
Pivetta has only started against Milwaukee once in his career, when he allowed nine runs on seven hits in five innings in a July 2017 outing as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Milwaukee left-hander Eric Lauer (6-3, 3.84) will face the Red Sox for the first time on Saturday while making his 100th appearance and 93rd start of his career. Most recently, Lauer allowed four runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings during a no-decision against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
The Brewers are 11-7 in Lauer’s starts, eight of which have been quality starts. However, Lauer has not won since June 17 in Cincinnati.
Milwaukee will look to build upon a strong late-innings performance on Friday. Christian Yelich had the game-winning RBI in the seventh inning, while Willy Adames went 3-for-5, breaking out of a 4-for-25 (.160) slump in the previous six games.
“I feel like that’s the best baseball we play, in the late innings,” Adames told Bally Sports Wisconsin on Friday. “I guess we get more focused in the late innings. It’s been amazing that we play like that late in games because I feel like that’s how you win, especially a (tight) game like tonight.”
Yelich is 11-for-31 (.355) during his current eight-game hitting streak.
“I think Christian has been swinging the bat really well, getting on base a ton and being a really effective leadoff hitter,” manager Craig Counsell said.
–Field Level Media