Nick Pivetta admits he hasn’t ‘been doing my job’ as of late

Red Sox

Pivetta hasn’t made it out of the fifth inning in three of his last four starts.

Nick Pivetta allowed five runs in the fifth inning in the Red Sox’ loss to the Padres. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Nick Pivetta’s outing against the Padres in the Red Sox’ 9-2 loss quickly went sideways on Friday.

The right-handed starter pitched four shutout innings to open Friday’s game before San Diego tagged him for five runs in the fifth. Ha-Seong Kim opened the inning with a double and Kyle Higashioka knocked him in with a two-run homer in the ensuing at-bat. Bryce Johnson hit a ground-rule double, Luis Arraez hit a single, and Jurickson Profar walked in the following three at-bats.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to end Pivetta’s day there, pulling his starter after he failed to record an out and loaded up the bases in the fifth inning. Greg Weissert allowed all three runners to score as part of the nine-run inning for the Padres.

Pivetta’s final line for Friday’s game finished at allowing five runs on seven hits, one walk, one home run, and four strikeouts in four-plus innings. It marks the second straight start that Pivetta has failed to get out of the fifth innings, allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings on Saturday against the Red. He’s pitched fewer than five innings in three of his last four starts and in four of his last seven starts.

As Pivetta has struggled to pitch long in games over the last month, he made a pretty blunt admission when he spoke with reporters after Friday’s loss.

“I haven’t been doing my job,” Pivetta said. “I need to pitch deeper in baseball games. I need to get ahead of guys probably a little bit better. … I didn’t generate that swing-and-miss.”

San Diego’s hitters only swung-and-miss at Pivetta’s pitches five times Friday. However, Pivetta’s fastball traveled well on Friday. His fastball averaged a season-best 95.2 mph speed, per Baseball Savant.

Rather, it was Pivetta’s sweeper that failed him in the fifth inning. After using the sweeper to induce four outs in the first four innings, Pivetta gave up a home run, a double, and a walk on the sweeper in the fifth inning.

“The sweeper didn’t perform in that inning,” Alex Cora told reporters. “It wasn’t able to execute. Everything happened so fast.”

The Padres’ offense has been much better as of late. They’re averaging nearly eight runs per game (7.9) over their last nine games, going 8-1 in that stretch.

But Pivetta’s sweeper hasn’t been terribly effective as of late, either. Opposing hitters are 9-for-28 (.321) with two home runs, two doubles, and two walks against the pitch this month. Additionally, opposing hitters have gone 16-for-51 (.314) with three doubles, four home runs, and three walks against Pivetta’s offspeed pitches in June.

“It was dissatisfying,” Pivetta said of his sweeper and fifth-inning performance. “I left some hanging pitches in the middle of the zone. They took advantage of them because they’re a good baseball team. I gave up a walk and just didn’t really put our team in position to win.”

Pivetta closed out June with a rocky statline. He went 2-1 with a 5.13 ERA in 26 1/3 innings pitched. But he’s far from the only Red Sox starter to struggle in June, with their starting rotation posting a 4.79 ERA in the month, according to The Boston Globe‘s Alex Speier.

While Pivetta, Brayan Bello, and Kutter Crawford have had their shaky moments as of late, Cora remains confident that the Red Sox will remain in contention for a playoff spot through the end of the season.

“We are where we’re at — in the mix [for] making it to the playoffs,” Cora said. “We’re going to keep working hard to make [the players] better and we’re going to keep playing good baseball. I do believe, I truly believe, there’s going to be meaningful games here in September.”

The Red Sox fell 1.5 games back of the final wild-card spot in the American League following the Royals’ win over the Guardians on Friday.

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