The once-productive Cleveland lineup was contained again and starter Danny Salazar could not make it through five innings in a tough start as the Boston Red Sox claimed game three and a series win over the Indians by a 5-2 final on Sunday afternoon.
As seemed to be the case all series, the Indians failed to score when opportunity was knocking at the door. Coupled with a season-high four runs allowed from Salazar, it was a recipe for a sour Sunday for Tribe fans.
A pair of one-out singles in the first from the Indians’ Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor off of Boston starter Rick Porcello had a prime scoring chance awaiting, but a strikeout from Mike Napoli and a pop out from Jose Ramirez ended the threat. The Red Sox immediately capitalized against Salazar, getting a one-out walk from Dustin Pedroia and a single from Xander Bogaerts before David Ortiz knocked in a run with a single to right. Hanley Ramirez then lined what would be an infield single off of Salazar’s leg, allowing the second run to score. The Sox would load the bases a batter latter on a walk, but Salazar struck out both Travis Shaw and Blake Swihart swinging to get out of the 40-pitch inning, trailing 2-0.
The Indians responded with two down in the second, as Juan Uribe doubled to center and Rajai Davis was hit by a pitch. Both runners moved up on a passed ball before Carlos Santana drew a walk to load the bases for Kipnis, who singled to right to score both Uribe and Davis to tie the game at two. With runners still at the corners, Lindor grounded out to second.
Boston reclaimed the lead and never looked back with some two-out work of their own in the home half of the second. Mookie Betts reached with one out on an infield single and moved to second one out later on a single from Bogaerts. Betts would score on a ground rule double to right-center from Ortiz, his second of four hits on the day.
Both pitchers settled in after the early run production, as Salazar allowed just a walk over the next two innings while Porcello allowed just a ground rule double to Uribe with one out in the third as his only other base runner through five. Ortiz padded his lead with a solo homer to lead off the fifth to make it 4-2, and after a one-out single from Bradley, Salazar departed for the Tribe bullpen, who allowed just one run over the final three and two-thirds innings on an RBI-single from Bogaerts in the sixth.
Porcello lasted three batters into the sixth, retiring the first two men easily before plunking Lonnie Chisenhall with his 115th pitch of the day. Matt Barnes took over and walked Uribe, but Davis struck out swinging to end any semblance of a threat.
The Red Sox bullpen shut the Indians down completely from there, throwing three and one-third scoreless innings, allowing a single and a walk with four strikeouts. Craig Kimbrel got two of those in the ninth on the way to his 12th save of the season.
The Indians (22-19) have dropped two straight after hitting their high-water mark of five games over .500. Their road trip record is now at 3-2 as they head west for four with Chicago. The Red Sox (27-17) continued their winning ways, winning for the tenth time in their last 14 and are 11-2 in their last 13 at Fenway Park. They also pulled into a virtual tie with the first place Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. The Orioles lead by percentage points over the Sox, as Boston has won and lost one more game than Baltimore.
Early damage, little run support, high stress innings, and a high pitch count spelled doom for Salazar (4-3, 2.32), who registered his shortest outing since September 5th of last season (three and two-thirds innings at Detroit). He allowed a season-high four runs on eight hits, walked three more, and struck out six on 109 pitches. He did survive the scare of the early shot off of him by Ramirez that left him on the ground for a moment.
Uribe, who has left something to be desired both offensively and defensively at third base for much of this season, had a pair of doubles in the loss and was 4-for-11 in the series. He ended Joe Kelly’s no-hit bid on Saturday with a late double and has very quietly put together a four-game hitting streak, going 6-for-15 in the stretch.
PAIR OF HITS FOR KIP
Kipnis had a pair of singles and two RBI after going 0-for-4 on Saturday afternoon. He was 4-for-13 in the series with five RBI at Fenway Park, a stadium he has fared well at throughout his career.
NAPOLI IN A FUNK AGAIN
Napoli had an ugly streak of eight straight at bats ending in a strikeout come to its end with a line out in the eighth inning. He was 0-for-13 in the series with nine strikeouts and is 0-for-19 extending back to the Indians’ 8-7 win on May 18th in Cincinnati.
He now has at least one strikeout in each of his last ten games. He has 26 strikeouts in 18 games in May, including K’s in 15 of those contests.
Porcello (7-2, 3.47), a very familiar face to the Indians after his years with the Detroit Tigers, got the better of the Tribe on Sunday. He lasted five and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts. The right-hander matched a season-high with 115 pitches. He has factored in all nine of his outings this season and has pitched at least five innings in every start.
NO STOPPING BIG PAPI
Ortiz pounced on Indians pitching all afternoon, going 4-for-4 with a solo home run and two doubles. He drove in three of the five Red Sox runs. The latter of the doubles was a ground rule shot that bounced into the bullpen in deep center field while Ortiz was just a triple short of the cycle.
“It wasn’t on my mind,” said Ortiz on thoughts of completing his first career cycle, “but when I went around first base and saw everybody going crazy I was like, ‘Whoa, I better get it going’.”
Ortiz, wrapping up his final MLB season at the age of 40, is hitting .329 with eleven home runs and 37 RBI.
“I was wondering, why is he retiring?” Indians starter Salazar said after the game. “I know he has way more to give.”
Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 27 straight games with a fifth inning single to right field. It extends his MLB season-high streak and is the longest streak since Colorado’s Nolan Arenado hit in 28 straight in 2014.
Boston’s all-time record is quickly coming into Bradley’s sights. Dom DiMaggio holds the Red Sox mark with 34 straight back in 1949.
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Indians optioned their lone left-hander in the bullpen, Kyle Crockett, to Triple-A Columbus and recalled right-hander Austin Adams, who had fared well with the Clippers so far this season.
After seven scoreless appearances to start his season, Crockett had been charged with runs in three of his last five to inflate his ERA to 14.73 for the season. He had struggled in matchup situations, allowing lefties to hit .385 against him with five hits and two walks (2.63 WHIP). In a much smaller sample against right-handers, they were 2-for-5 against him in an inning of work.
PUT ME IN, SKIP
Adams immediately got to work in his first day back on the Indians’ 25-man roster, working the final two innings of the game while allowing one hit and striking out a pair.
The Indians head to Chicago to play four games in three days, making up a postponed game from the first week of the season against the White Sox on Monday. Rookie righty Mike Clevinger (0-0, 6.75) will start game one for Cleveland against Chicago’s Mat Latos (5-1, 4.00). Game two will pair the Indians’ Cody Anderson (0-3, 7.99) vs. Erik Johnson (0-1, 7.20).
The first pitch of the first game of the day’s double dip is scheduled for 5:10 PM ET from U.S. Cellular Field.
Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images