Red Sox Analysis

Nick Pivetta sets MLB record in lights-out performance vs. A's

Pivetta's effort out was the first of its kind in at least 130 years.

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Nick Pivetta initially wasn't thrilled about moving to the bullpen. Now, he's setting records for his work in relief.

The Red Sox right-hander entered Monday's game against the Oakland Athletics in the third inning and absolutely dominated the hapless A's, allowing zero hits over six innings while striking out 13 batters to help preserve Boston's 7-0 win.

Not only were Pivetta's 13 strikeouts in relief a Red Sox franchise record, his 13 strikeouts without allowing a hit were also the most by relief pitcher in Major League Baseball history since the mound was set at its current distance in 1893, per ESPN's Stats & Info.

Pivetta struck out a ridiculous 65 percent of the batters he faced Monday night while allowing just two baserunners on a pair of walks. He became just the sixth pitcher in MLB history to fan 13 batters in a relief outing, and the first since Baseball Hall of Famer Randy Johnson in 2001 (16 strikeouts in seven innings of relief).

Pivetta's accomplishment is even more impressive considering how his season started. The 30-year-old began the season with a 6.30 ERA through eight starts before manager Alex Cora sent him to the bullpen. That bold move has paid massive dividends, as Pivetta now boasts a 2.31 ERA through 15 relief outings with 52 strikeouts through 35 innings pitched.

"A lot of people were worried when he got 'demoted' to the bullpen because he wants to be a starter, and he has the potential to become a starter," Cora said of Pivetta after the game, via "But he took it the other way. He's like, 'You know what, I'm going to contribute. I'm going to help this team. … Whatever role you give me, I'm going to go out there and perform.'"

You could make the case that Pivetta's dominance out of the bullpen should earn him a spot back in Boston's rotation, but it sounds like the Red Sox will keep him in a relief role for now, and it's hard to argue with that decision: The team is 8-3 in its last 11 games that Pivetta has pitched in relief, and his efforts are one reason why the Red Sox have lost just two games in the month of July.

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