Devers' Monster day backs Pivetta, Sox in rare shutout of Braves

June 5th, 2024

BOSTON -- For the Red Sox, it was a powerful getaway Wednesday at Fenway Park.

That power came from the plate, where hammered a pair of homers over the Green Monster on a day the short-handed offense had three crooked-number innings.

That power came from the mound, where turned in his best performance of the season, firing seven shutout innings while allowing just one hit and striking out nine against the potent Braves.

It added up to an impressive 9-0 victory that earned Boston a split of the two games with Atlanta leading into a four-game series in Chicago against the struggling White Sox this weekend.

With the NBA Finals set to begin on Thursday night in Boston, the Red Sox supported their local basketball team by wearing Celtics jerseys for the “happy” flight.

At 31-31, the Red Sox are trying to overcome their most recent spate of injuries by hanging at least on the periphery of the playoff race while they wait for key position players to return to the lineup.

More pitching performances like the one Pivetta turned in Wednesday would certainly aid that quest.

“Really good,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Pivetta. “He had everything working. Made pitches, had some swing-and-miss stuff. His last two have been solid, and he’s been able to use everything. I think he was a little bit hesitant when he came off the IL, that’s normal. Now it’s just a full-go and you see the WHIP, it’s below 1. When you do that, you’re going to be successful. He's been solid for a year and a half now. It's been fun to watch.”

It was almost exactly a month ago that Pivetta returned from the injured list against the Braves in Atlanta with just an abbreviated Minor League rehab start under his belt.

Facing the Braves and Chris Sale, it wasn’t really a fair fight, and Pivetta paid the price, getting touched up for seven hits and five runs in four innings in a 5-0 loss.

Pivetta is now starting to resemble his dominant form from the second half last season. In three of his last four starts, he’s allowed two runs or fewer.

“I definitely felt good -- different from before [against the Braves] when I was just coming off the IL,” Pivetta said. “Moving forward, getting a couple of games under my belt and to be able to face them again was much better.”

The Red Sox became the first team to shut out the Braves since May 12, 2023, in Toronto.

Devers decided in the second inning his team wasn’t going to be shut out. He put the Red Sox on the board -- and in the lead for good -- by belting the first of his two opposite-field shots. It was the 17th career multi-homer game for Devers and first this season.

“It’s almost annoying to watch him flip balls over the Monster like it's nothing,” said Jarren Duran, who added his MLB-leading ninth triple and a homer to the attack. “But it’s so awesome to see him smiling around the bases. He’s always smiling, having fun, and it's so awesome to see him doing his thing.”

Even when Devers set a club record by belting homers in six straight games from May 15-20, he didn’t feel completely locked in at the plate. Now, he is feeling dangerous again.

“I feel good. I've been feeling better each day,” Devers said. “I feel like I'm getting to that point where I feel comfortable.”

For a Boston team that has been hovering around .500 all season, a red-hot Devers could be a separator.

With Tyler O’Neill returning from the injured list on Wednesday and adding a couple of hits and Masataka Yoshida possibly a week or so from coming back, perhaps Boston’s offense will start to do its thing a bit more than in recent weeks. Triston Casas, the team’s most dangerous hitter besides Devers, told the viewing audience on NESN during Wednesday’s telecast he could be back around July 1 or perhaps a bit sooner.

“The lineup is going to be better,” Cora said. “Tomorrow, we’ll probably go with [recent No. 3 hitter Connor] Wong hitting seventh. We’re gonna be a lot better. Hopefully win the series [in Chicago] and then we’ve got Monday off and we got the Phillies and the Yankees. So we’ve just got to play better baseball. That's the bottom line.”