Boston Walks to Victory Over Tribe and Ubaldo; Red Sox 7, Indians 2
Steve Eby | On 16, Apr 2013
Many fans and players claim that baseball has healing powers—that even in a time of great anger and great sadness it can bring back a sense of normalcy. It was difficult to say if a baseball game that was over 600 miles away could bring a smile to the faces of a city that experienced a terrible tragedy less than 30 hours prior…but the Red Sox did their damnedest to try.
The day following the tragic and senseless bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the Red Sox flew to Cleveland and defeated the Indians by a score of 7-2. The Indians made sure that Boston fans got to smile early, as starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez spotted the BoSox seven runs in the second inning.
Prior to the game, the teams honored the victims of the tragedy by standing on the baselines and holding a moment of silence. The giant American Flag in centerfield was flown at half-mast in remembrance and the Indians took the field to the Neil Diamond’s song Sweet Caroline, which is the Red Sox unofficial anthem.
Along with serving the memory of the Boston victims, the teams also remembered Jackie Robinson, who was honored throughout the Major Leagues Monday. Because the Indians had an off day on Jackie Robinson Day, all players on both teams donned #42 on the backs of their jerseys.
“It’s because of him that guys like myself are able to play now,” Indians infielder Mike Aviles said of Robinson prior to the game. “He broke the color barrier and he dealt with a lot. I can honestly say that there is no way I would have been able to do it.”
“It’s probably one of my favorite days of the year,” added Michael Brantley. “It’s something that we remember, we honor and it’s a great thing. He did so much for the game of baseball and a lot of players. It’s nice to be able to throw that back to him and give him a little more respect. He deserves it.”
To add to a contest with no shortage of storylines, the game also became the first time that Tribe Manager Terry Francona would face the Red Sox since being fired by Boston after the 2011 season. When questioned, the two-time World Series Champion seemed ready to move on from his Beantown past.
“I had—mostly—eight really good years,” Francona said. “I don’t think I would have scripted the end the way that it ended. Sometimes it’s time to move on. I’m really happy where I am at here. I think it’s unfair to our players for me to have a ‘nostalgia week’. Our job is to beat them.”
Unfortunately, the job was not completed, as the Red Sox made quick work of Jimenez and the big right-hander walked his way out of the game before the completion of the second inning. Jimenez, who struggled in his previous start last Monday during the home opener against the Yankees, worked in two extended bullpens over the past week. He was said to have worked on closing his stride which was supposed to improve his extension and keep his tempo up.
It didn’t work for very long.
After Jimenez worked a 1-2-3 first inning, Mike Napoli doubled to lead off the second frame and then Jimenez completely lost control of his pitches and the game by walking three of the next four batters that he faced. David Ross was the first beneficiary of Jimenez’s gift wrapped RBI by “driving in” the first run of the contest on a base on balls. The following batter, shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, made the score 2-0 Red Sox by lifting a sacrifice fly to Ryan Raburn in right field. Unfortunately for Jimenez, the inning was far from over.
Jimenez then gave up an RBI base hit to Jacoby Ellsbury on what was nearly a sensational diving play by Asdrubal Cabrera. A stolen base, followed by another walk reloaded the bases and then Francona pulled his number two starter amongst a chorus of boos after he walked Dustin Pedroia to bring home another run. The nightmare second inning saw Jimenez throw 44 pitches and walk five batters—and things only got worse from there.
Reliever Cody Allen took over to face Napoli, who had already doubled to start the inning. Napoli’s encore at bat was even better than his opening act as he again doubled—this time off the left field wall—and cleared the loaded bases to make the score 7-0 in favor of Boston. The inning finally ended when Allen was able to get Will Middlebrooks on a called strike three that was at Middlebrook’s ankles and in the other batter’s box.
The Indians got a run back in the bottom half of the second, when singles by Nick Swisher and Brantley off of Boston starter Felix Doubront put runners at the corners with one out. Aviles then smoked a line drive into right for a sacrifice fly, but was robbed of extra bases when Shane Victorino made a fantastic and perhaps game-changing play on the drive toward the gap. From there, the Tribe bullpen did an excellent job as Allen threw three scoreless innings followed by two scoreless frames from Nick Hagadone. The ‘pen gave the Indians multiple chances to try and string together some offense. Unfortunately, the Tribe offense cashed in only one time.
In the bottom of the fifth, Raburn smoked a single off of the left field wall and moved to second on a walk to Drew Stubbs. Cabrera loaded the bases with a ground ball single to left, but the runners stayed put when catcher Carlos Santana—who was back in the starting lineup for the first time in over a week—struck out for the second out. A passed ball by Ross allowed Raburn to score and moved Stubbs and Cabrera up a base and then Swisher drew a walk to reload the bases. Mark Reynolds, who hit a grand slam on Saturday, popped out to Pedroia at second to end the inning and slammed his bat to the ground in frustration after doing so.
It is a frustration that the Indians have seen far too often when Jimenez has pitched over the past two seasons. With the loss, last year’s 17-game loser drops to 0-2 on the season with an 11.25 ERA. On the current homestand, Jimenez has thrown six innings allowing eight walks and 14 earned runs. He currently has no command of his pitches and has exited both ballgames to boos from his hometown crowds. In contrast to the Indians struggling starter, Doubront worked five innings for the Red Sox and earned his first victory of the season.
Bright spots for the Indians included Allen, Hagadone, Rich Hill and Bryan Shaw, who all pitched scoreless baseball out of the bullpen. Shaw was especially impressive, striking out all four batters that he faced. Brantley paced the Indians offense with two hits while Stubbs added a single and two walks. Aviles recorded the team’s only RBI and Cord Phelps made his Indians season debut when he pinch hit and grounded out in the bottom of the ninth.
On Wednesday, the Indians will try to even the series as they send the red-hot Justin Masterson (3-0, 0.41) to the mound to face right hander Alfredo Aceves (0-0, 6.75). The game is scheduled to start at 7:05 PM ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and on the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images