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Quite a debut: Pivetta fans 8 in 1st Sox start

Very early returns positive from Workman-Hembree trade with Philly
@IanMBrowne
September 23, 2020

BOSTON -- Nick Pivetta stepped into his new home office on Tuesday night and made it look like a place he could get used to. The 27-year-old righty has been filled with promise that he often couldn’t fulfill with the Phillies, which is why the Red Sox were able to

BOSTON -- Nick Pivetta stepped into his new home office on Tuesday night and made it look like a place he could get used to.

The 27-year-old righty has been filled with promise that he often couldn’t fulfill with the Phillies, which is why the Red Sox were able to acquire him in the first place.

Box score

A month and a day after the trade that brought Pivetta to Boston, the Red Sox at last sent him out there for his debut, and he sparkled while leading his team to an 8-3 victory over the Orioles at Fenway Park.

Over five innings, Pivetta held the O’s to four hits and a run, walking three and striking out eight. Of his 96 pitches, the Orioles whiffed at 14 of them, which ties Pivetta for the second highest total among Red Sox starters this season.

“I'm just really grateful for this opportunity,” said Pivetta. “It's been over a year since I've been able to start in the big leagues. To be able to go out there and put five pretty good innings out there, I was very elated.”

It’s too early to say if chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is going to win this trade, but the early returns make that seem very likely. Consider how things are going for the two pitchers Bloom traded for Pivetta.

Closer Brandon Workman, who is a free agent this offseason, got walked off by the Nationals on Tuesday night and has a 6.92 ERA in 14 outings with his new team. Not only did Heath Hembree struggle mightily (12.54 ERA) in his first month with the Phillies, but he is now on the injured list with elbow woes.

As for Pivetta, he spent the last month at the alternate training site in Pawtucket, R.I., ironing out mechanical issues and building up his pitch count. He was fully ready when the Red Sox handed him the reins.

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“Obviously, it's a little bit different down in the alternate camp, so just having those meaningful baseball games, playing against big leaguers is something I've always dreamed off and something I never take for granted,” Pivetta said. “Just to go out there, compete with the new guys -- they've been super, super great. I've almost met everybody. It's a little hard to meet everybody, but it's been awesome.”

Pivetta threw 49 fastballs, 22 sliders, 20 knuckle curves and five changeups, and the Orioles didn’t take many comfortable swings. The four hits that Baltimore had off him were singles.

“It was great,” said catcher Christian Vázquez, who supported Pivetta’s cause by jacking a three-run homer over the Green Monster in the sixth inning. “I think we used all the pitches. It was very surprising with that slider. We used it a lot today. It was real sharp. The fastball up, the breaking ball down worked a lot.”

Controllable young starting pitching is something Bloom has been seeking, and Pivetta isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season.

The Red Sox also got a prospect in the trade -- righty Connor Seabold. He is ranked No. 23 in Boston’s farm system by MLB Pipeline.

Though it has been a tough regular season for the Red Sox, Pivetta exemplified that better things could be ahead. So, too, has Tanner Houck, the exciting prospect who didn’t allow an earned run in his first two MLB starts and will go again for Boston this weekend in Atlanta.

“Yeah, great to see, no doubt,” said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “You look forward to seeing some new guys come, and when you see them start this way, it’s no doubt you’re looking at next year and what can happen and the possibilities. I know Chaim and his crew will look at that and figure where everybody fits in.

“But the more arms you have, [the better]. It is vital to have depth in your starting staff because you know they're not going to make it through the season with five guys. So I think it’s really important, and really important down the road for the future trying to get some younger guys and hopefully we have them here for a long time.”

Pivetta will follow Houck and pitch the final game of the season on Sunday against the Braves.

Given that Pivetta hadn’t started a game in the Majors since July 17, 2019, getting the chance to start twice within six days is something he isn’t taking for granted.

“I think it’s huge,” Pivetta said. “I’m given two opportunities to showcase myself and do the best I possibly can. I’m looking forward to every opportunity I have and just moving on from that.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.