Red Sox turn to Nick Pivetta vs. Guardians in effort to end slide

The reeling Boston Red Sox will at least be free from American League East competition on Monday night when they open a four-game series against the visiting Cleveland Guardians.

In dropping a three-game home series to the Toronto Blue Jays that included an 8-4 loss on Sunday, the Red Sox fell to 12-29 within their division. They are 0-11-1 in 12 series against AL East rivals this season.

The series against Toronto started Friday with an embarrassing 28-5 loss.

“We just have to play better,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It doesn’t matter, the trade deadline (Aug. 2), whatever. We’re playing .500 baseball. We’re back to neutral. We’re back to where we were April 8. The brand of baseball we’re playing is awful. We’re not catching the ball, we’re not putting good at-bats, we’re not throwing strikes. It’s bad. It’s really bad right now.”

The Guardians, second to the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central, lost 6-3 to the host Chicago White Sox on Sunday to settle for a split of the four-game series.

“We played really well in this series other than (Sunday) and had a chance to at least take three out of four,” said Guardians right-hander Shane Bieber, who took the loss Sunday. “But tough starts will put the team in a tough position.”

Boston swept a three-game series at Cleveland from June 24-26.

On Monday, Boston will start right-hander Nick Pivetta (8-7, 4.50 ERA) on Monday, while right-hander Zach Plesac (2-7, 4.02) will go for Cleveland.

Pivetta is 1-0, 2.57 ERA in one career start against Cleveland that came June 24 when he pitched seven innings.

Plesac is 1-0, 4.11 ERA in three career starts against Boston.

The Red Sox have lost five games in a row and 13 of their past 16.

“I think defensively, we have taken a step back the last 14 days,” Cora said. “We were really good defensively early on. Yeah, we have moving parts, but you have to slow it down. Catch the ball, throw to the right base, don’t panic out there. It seems like right now the game speeds up at one point in the game and it looks horrible.

“We’re talented and we can turn it around quick. It starts (Monday). We have to show up and play good baseball. It starts with Nick (Pivetta) on the mound, good at-bats, running the bases well, play good defense.”

It also would help to have some injured players return. Third baseman Rafael Devers (hamstring) joined a long injured list on Saturday, and designated hitter J.D. Martinez (back) did not play against Toronto.

Despite losing two in a row, the Guardians are 6-4 in their past 10 games.

Guardians shortstop Amed Rosario was 2-for-5 with a double on Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. He is batting .444 (20-for-45) with six doubles, one triple, eight RBIs, two walks and eight runs during the stretch. He also has nine multi-hit games.

Outfielder Steven Kwan went 2-for-4 with a home run Sunday and has hit safely in 13 of his past 15 games, going 24-for-65 (.369) with six doubles, one home run, seven RBIs and 13 runs.

Guardians designated hitter Josh Naylor was 3-for-5 Sunday and has reached base safely in six of his past seven games, going 9-for-26 (.346) with one double, two homers, eight RBIs and four runs.

–Field Level Media