It’s wild to think that a complete game is now an accomplishment worthy of a postgame Gatorade bath. But it is, and Red Sox righty Nick Pivetta stunningly achieved one on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, so he got splashed.
Pivetta rocketed to the top of the complete game leaderboard with his first of the 2022 season, allowing just one run and two hits with no walks against the Astros. Jose Altuve led off the game with a solo home run, then Pivetta allowed just one baserunner for the rest of the game. He threw 112 pitches, a new career-high as a member of the Red Sox, 78 of them for strikes.
The complete game was the first for the Red Sox since Chris Sale did it in 2019. Boston had eight complete games combined over the previous five seasons, five of them taking place in 2017.
Red Sox Manager Alex Cora took an old-school approach with his handling of Pivetta. He sent him back out for the ninth inning already at 101 pitches, eschewing today’s generally analytics-driven philosophy, because he could see, with his eyes, that Pivetta was dealing.
“He had that look, he had it,” Cora said. “He always jokes with me that, here, I’m going to let him throw a complete game. Today, it was kind of like, will he let himself to do that? You could see the swings. They were late, they weren’t able to recognize the slider.
“We had our guys [in the bullpen] ready, because it happens fast with [the Astros], we’ve seen it before. But he was amazing.”
Pivetta is now tied with three others (Walker Buehler, Patrick Corbin, Reid Detmers) for the major league lead in complete games with … one. It was also just the third nine-inning complete game across all of baseball so far in 2022. Detmers’ complete game was a no-hitter against the Rays on May 10.
For more context as to the rarity of Pivetta’s feat: three pitchers tied for the major league lead in the category in 2021 with three (Adam Wainwright, German Marquez, Zack Wheeler). The last time anyone pitched as many as five complete games was 2017, when Corey Kluber and Ervin Santana both pulled it off. The last pitcher to reach double-digit complete games was James Shields, with 11 in 2011.
Contrast that with, say, 1879, when Will White set the major league record with 75 complete games for the Cincinnati Reds. Seventy-five! Guys are barely allowed to throw 75 pitches these days. But even compared to just a decade ago, the CG has truly become a dinosaur, among the rarest of the rare.
“I just feel like I had all my pitches working, which is just one of those nights,” Pivetta said during a postgame interview on NESN, right before the Gatorade bath. “I was competing in the zone, curveball was nice, I was able to utilize the split-finger when I wanted to, and just put these guys away early, swung early, so that made it a little bit easier on me.”
The Red Sox still have plenty of work to do, sitting at 15-22 and 13 games out of first place in the American League East, where the Yankees lead entering Thursday. But winning their first home series of the season over the still-elite Astros (24-14) is certainly a step in the right direction, and Pivetta’s start was an accomplishment worth celebrating for longtime baseball fans.
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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at email@example.com.