The ups and downs of an MLB season can be summed up fairly well by the Boston Red Sox last week. After winning five straight games, including two over the juggernaut Atlanta Braves, the Red Sox proceeded to lose their next two games, which gave them a series loss to the Giants. As the team looks to continue their chase for a Wild Card spot, they find themselves in Seattle for a three-game series, and we’ll preview the opening game before going over my play for the first five innings.
Seattle stumbled out of the gate in the second half of the season, but since then, they have found their footing by winning two straight series, including one this past weekend over the Diamondbacks. Despite striking out 13 times and leaving 20 runners on base, the Mariners came away with a 4-0 victory yesterday, mainly due to a stellar seven-shut-out inning performance from Luis Castillo and a 2-3 day at the plate from JP Crawford.
With yesterday’s win, the Mariners are now 4.5 games out of an AL Wild Card spot, and with the Red Sox being one of the teams they are chasing, Seattle must come to play this week. As they look to take game one of the series, right-hander George Kirby will take the mound for them in what will be his 21st start of the year. Kirby struck out nine in four innings during his last outing, but the five runs he allowed knocked him out of the game with a no-decision.
Kirby’s first matchup since his battle with the Twins will come against a Red Sox team that fell in extra innings yesterday to the Giants. For the second straight game, Boston fell by one run, losing 4-3 on a Joc Pederson walk-off single. The Red Sox looked like they would come away with the win after a Justin Turner home run in the 8th, but the scrappy Giants offense would be too much for the Red Sox bullpen.
After using seven pitchers in yesterday's game, the Red Sox will turn to Nick Pivetta to start tonight’s game. The right-hander has started eight games this season, but most of his 25 appearances have come out of the bullpen. Despite coming out of the bullpen recently, the Red Sox have been extending his innings in those appearances, and he’s responded well to that strategy.
The total for the first five innings is currently set at 4.5, and I’ll be taking the under for my play. Both starting pitchers have performed well in this spot as of late, and neither offense has been able to consistently produce runs in tonight’s location. With Boston failing to come out of the gate strong on the road and George Kirby’s success at home, I think we see a low-scoring start to this series.
While the Red Sox may rank 10th in average runs per game in the first five innings, they also rank 25th in average runs scored in the first five innings on the road. Now they have to face a starter in Kirby, that has a batting average against of .228 at home to go along with a 3.28 FIP. The Mariners right-hander also has a 3.04 FIP the first time through the order and a 3.02 FIP the second time through, so he’s been able to keep teams at bay from the first pitch.
On the other side, Nick Pivetta has a 3.34 FIP on the road to go along with a batting average against of .205. Not only has the Red Sox starter been one of the best arms in baseball over the past few weeks, but he now faces a Mariners team that is hitting .238 against right-handed pitching at home over the last month.
F5 Under 4.5