The Boston Red Sox put the clamps on the host Cleveland Guardians in the first game of their three-game set on Friday, 6-3.
With the way the Red Sox pound the ball, if they keep getting starting pitching like they did from Nick Pivetta on Friday, they are going to be tough to beat all season. Itwas his eighth win in his past nine starts.
Boston will come back with right-hander Josh Winckowski (2-1, 3.68 ERA) on Saturday. He will be making his first career appearance against Cleveland.
The Guardians, tied for first in the American League Central with the Minnesota Twins, will counter with right-hander Shane Bieber (3-3, 3.00). In four career appearances (three starts) against Boston, he's 2-2 with a 6.95 ERA.
The Red Sox banged out 12 hits on Friday, with Christian Arroyo going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs. Rafael Devers also went deep and Alex Verdugo and Trevor Story each had two hits.
Boston manager Alex Cora's club has won five in a row and 17 of its last 21.
"We have to keep rolling," he said. "We got to keep going. Every series for us is a challenge and it's because of the way we started.
"We know where we are in the standings. We put ourselves in a situation that we're in the conversation now. We just have to keep getting better."
Cleveland loaded the bases against Red Sox closer Tanner Houck in the ninth inning on Friday but was unable to produce any late-inning magic. All-Star Jose Ramirez grounded out to end the game.
"I'll take my chances with Jose up there," Guardians manager Terry Francona said.
Andres Gimenez was 3-for-4 with his eighth homer. He raised his batting average to .314 and is making a push for the All-Star team.
Steven Kwan, Amed Rosario and Franmil Reyes each added two hits apiece in the Guardians' 12-hit attack.
Despite dropping back-to-back games, the Guardians have won eight of their past 11 and 17 of the past 23 games.
Like Boston, they rely heavily on their starting rotation, four of whom are home-grown: Bieber, Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie and Zach Plesac.
"Those four guys came up through our system," Cleveland pitching coach Carl Willis said. "They watched each other evolve from Class A.
"Our guys do a tremendous job supporting each other. They are learning a little from each other."
Cal Quantrill is the only starting pitcher not drafted by the Guardians. He was acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres.
"They are good and they are competitive," Francona said. "We're fortunate and we know that."
Despite a dozen hits on Friday, they could not break through against the Red Sox.
"We couldn't get a bit hit when we needed it," Francona said.
Reliver Yohan Ramirez made his Cleveland debut against the Red Sox. The right-hander pitched two innings and allowed three hits, one run and one walk. He struck out one.
"He was a little erratic," Francona said. "He has a good arm. He has to harness it and command a little better."
--Field Level Media