A four-run ninth inning by the Red Sox broke open a one-run game to give Boston a big victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night from Progressive Field, 6-1.
A game featuring a pair of 12-game winners in Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Boston’s Drew Pomeranz lived up to the billing as a close contest took place between the two starters. Pomeranz would get run before completing six innings, but he kept the Indians off of the scoreboard in the process. His bullpen teammates would do the same until the bottom of the eighth, but a mess of a ninth by the Tribe relief staff erased any chances of a comeback by Cleveland on this night.
Kluber was dealing in the early going, holding the Red Sox hitless through the first three innings while striking out five, including the side in the second. Boston notched its first hit of the night in the fourth on an infield single by Eduardo Nunez, but Kluber bounced back and struck out the next three in order to leave him stranded.
Pomeranz had to work a bit harder than Kluber, but kept the Indians scoreless. He walked Jose Ramirez in the first, allowed an infield single to Jay Bruce in the second, and walked Francisco Lindor in the third, but all were left on base. Cleveland would put two on with one out in the fourth as Bruce was hit by a pitch and Brandon Guyer singled to left-center, but Pomeranz struck out the next two to leave the pair.
Mitch Moreland erased the scoreless game in the top of the fifth, sending a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right field for a solo home run. It would remain the only run scored until the top of the eighth.
It would be Moreland who started the eighth frame with a first pitch fly out to left. Kluber struck out the next batter, Christian Vazquez, for the second out, but after getting ahead of Brock Holt, he lost him to a walk and plunked Nunez before giving up a single to left to Mookie Betts to put the Red Sox up, 2-0. Tyler Olson came on and walked Andrew Benintendi to load the bases, but Joe Smith entered and struck out Hanley Ramirez to escape a dangerous jam.
Addison Reed, with well chronicled struggles at Progressive Field in his career, returned to the mound for the bottom of the eighth for the Sox and retired the first two batters before Edwin Encarnacion put the Indians on the board with a solo shot deep to left, making it a 2-1 game. A strikeout of Bruce ended the inning and sent the game to the ninth, where things got out of control in a hurry.
Smith started the frame and gave up back-to-back singles by Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts to put runners on the corners with nobody out. A passed ball by Yan Gomes allowed the third run to cross, making it a 3-1 Sox lead. Moreland grounded out, moving Bogaerts to third before a strikeout of Vazquez swinging for the second out. Holt, who cost the Red Sox the game on Monday, came through with a big RBI-double to left to score Bogaerts and bring Bryan Shaw on from the bullpen. His struggles on the mound continued as he gave up a two-run payback home run to left by Nunez to rip open the game, 6-1.
Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth, walking Yandy Diaz with one out, but he avoided any other problems by striking out all three men that he retired to give the Red Sox their 73rd win of the year while winning them the season series over the Indians.
The loss by the Indians (69-56) was not quite as costly as Minnesota dropped a 4-3 decision against Chicago to leave Cleveland’s lead in the AL Central at four and a half games.
Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA) worked seven and two-thirds innings, giving up two runs on four hits with a walk and 12 strikeouts in a solid quality showing. He continued to be a strong force on the mound for the Indians when following a loss, as he entered with a 5-0 record and a 1.75 ERA in his last eight starts after a Tribe defeat.
Pomeranz (13-4, 3.18) moved up another victory on the year with five and one-third innings of scoreless, two-hit baseball. He walked four on the night, but struck out nine, needing 103 pitches to retire 16 batters. Joe Kelly and Reed each earned holds, while Kimbrel worked in a non-save situation for manager John Farrell.
Off the field, the Indians suffered another loss. Prior to the game, Cleveland placed second baseman Jason Kipnis on the 10-day disabled list after aggravating a hamstring strain. Erik Gonzalez was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to fill his roster spot.
The two clubs will meet one more time, at least in the regular season, in a 7:10 PM ET first pitch from Progressive Field on Thursday night. Left-hander Chris Sale (14-5, 2.62) will take the mound for the Red Sox, looking to continue his pursuit of the Cy Young award and an AL East crown. He will look to bounce back from a rough start against the Indians on the first of August when he was tagged for seven runs on eight hits in five innings of work in a no-decision. Right-hander Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.50) will oppose for the Tribe. He threw six and one-third shutout innings against Kansas City on August 19 and defeated the Red Sox in his start before that, giving up three runs on seven hits in six and two-thirds innings while striking out eleven.
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