Indians Ride Strong Team Pitching Performance to Victory; Indians 5, Red Sox 3
by Bob Toth
Just hours after the team announced the firing of pitching coach Scott Radinsky, Cleveland starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez limited Boston to three runs, and his Bullpen Mafia teammates slammed the door the rest of the way, as the Indians edged the Red Sox by a 5-3 final.
Jason Donald, recalled from Columbus prior to the game to replace the injured Travis Hafner on the 25-man roster, got the night started with a bang. In the starting lineup and batting leadoff as a last-minute replacement for an injured Jason Kipnis, Donald took two balls from Boston’s left-handed starter Felix Doubront before sending a drive down the right field line and into the stands for a leadoff home run. For Donald, it was his first homer of the season. For the Indians, it marked their sixth leadoff home run on the year.
“That was clutch there,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He found out [about starting] in just the last round of batting practice. We have always felt he could swing the bat against lefties and bring energy.”
A single by Carlos Santana and a double by Michael Brantley with two outs kept the inning alive, but Shelley Duncan struck out to end the threat. The double extended Brantley’s hitting streak to eight games.
The Red Sox figured out Jimenez briefly in the fourth. After a leadoff single to left by Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez lifted his twelfth home run of the year into the right field lower reserve, giving Boston a 2-1 lead. Jimenez would give up two more base hits in the inning, but would escape with no further damage done.
In the top of the fifth, the Red Sox added to their total. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a 1-2 pitch to center for a single. He stole second, his third stolen base of the night off of Jimenez and Lou Marson, during the at bat of Carl Crawford, who ultimately struck out. Pedroia drove Ellsbury home with his second hit of the night and his 41st run batted in on the season, giving the Red Sox a 3-1 lead.
The Indians would retaliate in the bottom half of the inning with a strong response. After a groundout leading off by Casey Kotchman, Marson singled to right center. Donald followed with a walk. Asdrubal Cabrera fouled off several pitches, then lined a double into the left field corner just past the glove of Will Middlebrooks. The hit scorEd Marson from second with Cabrera’s 48th RBI of the season and cut the deficit to one run.
Shin-Soo Choo followed with a walk of his own to load the bases for Carlos Santana. Santana worked the count full before sending a sharp grounder through the hole in the left side of the infield for a game-tying RBI single, his 52nd run batted in on the year. The base knock also chased starter Doubront from the game.
With reliever Andrew Miller in the game, Brantley lofted a sacrifice fly to medium deep left, scoring Cabrera. Brantley’s 49th RBI allowed the Indians to reclaim the lead, 4-3.
“Brantley continues to be our savior in the middle of the lineup,” Acta said. “Just a huge at bat against Miller. Michael hung in there very good and got the sac fly.”
Doubront (10-6) gave the Red Sox just four and one-third innings of work on the night. He was charged with four runs, all earned, on seven hits. He walked a pair and struck out four. He entered the game the recipient of the American League’s best run support average, getting 7.83 runs per nine innings pitched. He had previously limited the Indians to just three hits and two walks in six innings in a 4-1 win in Bostonon May 12th.
Jimenez (9-11) was pulled in the seventh for reliever Tony Sipp after giving up a leadoff double to Pedro Ciriaco. He provided the Indians with their third consecutive quality start. He worked six-plus innings, tying the team-high for strikeouts in a game on the year with ten (Justin Masterson on Opening Day). Sixteen different times throughout the game he was ahead in the count on Red Sox hitters either 0-2 or 1-2. He allowed three runs on eight hits and walked just one batter. It marked just the fourth time in 23 starts this season that Jimenez has walked one batter or less, all since June 5th. The effort from Jimenez was a significant improvement from his lone previous start against the Red Sox this season, a 7-5 loss inBoston where he allowed seven earned runs on nine hits with five walks.
“I was able to throw everything for a strike,” Jimenez said. “The main thing was locating the fastball. I just kept throwing it.”
“Great job by Ubaldo today,” Acta said. “That’s the most aggressive I’ve seen him. He was just dominant, both sides of the plate. Ahead of the count the whole day. I’m very happy Ubaldo was able to win the ball game after the effort he put in.”
Sipp worked an impressive seventh in relief and was aided by a heads-up defensive gem by the infielders behind him. After striking out Jacoby Ellsbury for the first out of the inning, Sipp got Crawford to hit a grounder to short. Cabrera, with Ciriaco running in front of him, alertly threw to Lillibridge at third and got Ciriaco into a rundown. The tag was made after Lillibridge threw the ball back to Cabrera, but Crawford, who was trying to move up to second on the backend of the play, was thrown out to end the inning and cut short a dangerous rally attempt.
Vinnie Pestano relieved Sipp in the eighth. Pedroia grounded to second for the first out, but Pestano drilled Gonzalez in the right thigh on an 0-2 pitch. Nick Punto pinch-ran for the Red Sox first baseman and moved to second on a single to left by Cody Ross. The bullpen began warming, but the Indians reliever struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia on four pitches and worked a flyout to right by Middlebrooks to end the threat.
Pestano has now worked 21.0 consecutive scoreless innings. He earned his 31st hold of the season, which leads all of baseball and tied him with Rafael Betancourt (2007) for the club record for holds in one season.
Facing Junichi Tazawa in the eighth in his second inning of relief, Ezequiel Carrera reached on an infield single to a diving Ciriaco at second. Lillibridge singled through the left side, causingBostonmanager Bobby Valentine to lift Tazawa for former Indians pitcher, Craig Breslow. Kotchman dropped down a sacrifice bunt to third base, moving both runners up 90 feet. Marson walked on five pitches to load the bases. Donald grounded to the hole at short; Mike Aviles made a nice play ranging to his right and was able to make the throw to second to force Marson, but the runner Carrera scored on the play to give the Indians a 5-3 lead.
Looking to retire his two-game blown save streak along with his recently shaven beard, Chris Perez worked an easy 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 30th save of the season. Combined with his bullpen mates Sipp and Pestano, the Indians’ relievers pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one hit by pitch while striking out a pair. Indians pitchers combined for twelve strikeouts total on the game.
“[Perez] looked very white without that beard. He needs some suntan,” Acta said. “He’s human. He’s been throwing 95 miles per hour down at the knees. His stuff is there. This is the big leagues. You’re going to have some rough times. I can’t wait to be ahead in the ninth and hand him the ball.”
Acta gave a brief update on the injury to second baseman Jason Kipnis, who did not start. “I think he did it sleeping last night. He took a nap after the day game on some kind of double pillow on the couch and jacked up his neck, according to the trainers.”
Cleveland (52-60) has won back-to-back games and improved to 2-2 on this current seven-game homestand. Boston(55-58) has now lost three straight. They remain in fourth place in the AL East.
Game two of the Indians’ four-game set with Boston resumes on Friday night. Chris Seddon (0-0, 7.71) is scheduled to make his second start of the season and third appearance overall. He last appeared Tuesday night against Minnesota, working one-third of an inning in relief.
Right-hander Clay Buchholz (9-3, 4.48) will pitch for the Red Sox. He has been strong for Boston of late despite poor run support, earning a 1-1 record with a 1.98 ERA and a .197 batting average against him since the All-Star break.
Game time Friday from Cleveland is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET. Follow the action on SportsTime Ohio and the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak