The Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays played one of the wildest games of the year on Saturday, with Daulton Varsho’s game-tying triple with two outs in the ninth sending things to extras and setting up an eventual 4-3 win for Toronto — a huge one for the team’s Wild Card hopes. Now the Jays (82-67) look to nab a series win on Sunday, while the Red Sox (74-75) are just trying to snap out of their September free-fall. Nick Pivetta (9-9, 4.56 ERA) will get the ball for the visitors, while Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-3, 2.93) goes for Toronto.
The Blue Jays’ rally on Saturday — combined with the Mariners’ continued struggles — vaulted Toronto back into sole possession of the third and final Wild Card spot, a half-game up on Seattle. After Sunday, they’ll kick off a crucial road trip next week featuring trips to the Yankees and Rays. Boston has lost eight of 10 and three in a row, with an elimination number of just six and certainly too much ground to make up to hold out hope of a playoff berthe.
Toronto enters as -142 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Red Sox at +120. The run total is set at 8.5.
Red Sox-Blue Jays picks: Sunday, September 17
Out: 1B Triston Casas (right shoulder soreness), SP James Paxton (knee), RP Joely Rodriguez (hip), RP Kenley Jansen (COVID-19), SP Corey Kluber (right shoulder inflammation), RP Zack Kelly (right elbow surgery)
Out: 1B Brandon Belt (lumbar spine muscle spasms), C Danny Jansen (fractured right middle finger)
Nick Pivetta vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu
Another rash of injuries has thrust Pivetta back into Boston’s rotation, and the results have been predictably mixed for one of the most boom-or-bust arms in the whole sport. The righty was dialed in last weekend against the Yankees, fanning 10 over 5.1 innings of work (he eventually was charged with three runs allowed, but that has as much to do with Alex Cora leaving him in too long and Boston’s bullpen). The Yankees are among the worst offenses in the league against righties, however, so that might be a bit of fool’s gold. Pivetta’s first start of the month was far rougher, as he allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks over 4.2 innings of work against the Rays. When he has his command, his fastballs up, sliders and curves down approach can be very successful, but the floor here is low.
Ryu has been a model of consistency since making his return from Tommy John rehab last month. Over the lefty’s last four starts, he’s allowed two or three runs on four or five hits in five or six innings of work — including a quality start last time out in a hard-luck loss against the Rangers. He’s now fully stretched out, good for at least 85-90 pitches a start, and his changeup and curveball have been dancing like the old days. Ryu needs to have his command on point to be effective, but he’s making it work so far.
Boston has really, really struggled against lefty pitching this month, with a .222/.308/.383 team-wide slash line and a league-worst 28.6% K rate. The first two games of this series saw three and seven runs scored — the latter of which needed 13 innings — and while Pivetta is capable of coughing up a crooked number, he looked better last weekend and could thrive again facing a righty-heavy Jays lineup.
Pick: Under 8.5
I have a lot more faith in Ryu on the mound in this spot than Pivetta, and Toronto certainly has all the momentum after handing Boston a back-breaking loss yesterday. (It also helps that the Jays’ bullpen has been substantially better than the Red Sox’, should this game be close yet again.)
Pick: Blue Jays -142