If Corey Kluber wins the American League Cy Young award this season for a second time in his career, he may have his teammates to thank. For the second time this month, the Indians pounded Boston southpaw and assumed leader in the race for the top pitching award, Chris Sale, for seven runs and dealt him the shortest start of his career on Thursday night as Cleveland routed the Boston Red Sox, 13-6.
When Cleveland visited Boston earlier in the month, Sale was hit hard early for seven runs on eight hits by the Indians in a start that lasted just five innings. Sale, with a 5-7 career record in 28 appearances against the Indians, had a chance to get even, but the Tribe brought the bats in the regular season finale between the two clubs, making up some for mustering just four hits over the previous two games in a pair of defeats.
After stranding a runner at second in the first inning after a two-out single and a stolen base by Jose Ramirez, the Indians would send eight men to the plate to put up a big lead on Sale. The first four men all reached as Jay Bruce and Brandon Guyer each singled and Yandy Diaz walked to load the bases before Roberto Perez drilled an 0-2 fastball to center to put Cleveland up, 1-0. Giovanny Urshela legged out a fielder’s choice to short, grounding home a second run, and his good buddy Francisco Lindor pulled a single into left field to score Diaz with the third run of the frame. The Indians got a fourth straight run when Austin Jackson grounded to third, but the throw by Rafael Devers to second base to start a possible double play sailed past Eduardo Nunez into right field to score Urshela. Ramirez grounded into a double play to end the inning, but the Indians had a big 4-0 lead.
It would not be enough.
Mitch Moreland got the Red Sox on the board with a leadoff homer in the third off of Trevor Bauer, cutting into the Boston deficit. The Indians, however, would not be done with their damage against Sale as they put together another big inning. Edwin Encarnacion and Guyer drew walks around a Bruce strikeout. Diaz, after walking in the second, began his big night with the bat with a double to the wall in right to get the run back, making it 5-1. Perez grounded back to the mound for the second out, but Urshela came through with the biggest hit of the night, driving a two-run single to center to score both Guyer and Diaz to push the lead to 7-1.
Bauer would not be able to hold the lead, giving flashbacks to the previous Sale start in Boston when Carlos Carrasco could not stop the Red Sox despite a big early lead. Mookie Betts doubled to left-center to start the inning and moved to third after a strikeout by Andrew Benintendi and a grounder by Hanley Ramirez. Devers walked and Xander Bogaerts tripled high off of the wall in left to make it 7-3. Moreland followed with an RBI-single to right before Sandy Leon was cut down swinging with the score now 7-4.
Sale was replaced on the mound for the fourth, but Bauer returned for the fifth and had to pitch around some trouble. Brock Holt walked to start the inning before the Tribe right-hander struck out Nunez and Betts for the first two outs. Benintendi singled Holt over to third, but Bauer got a lineout deep to right by Ramirez to end the threat.
The Indians added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning against reliever Heath Hembree. Diaz singled with one out for his second hit of the night. Diaz broke for second before a walk by Perez and Leon’s throw to second, which would not have mattered due to the walk, went into center, allowing Diaz to move up to third. Urshela then made the error costly, singling to left to drive in the eighth run of the ball game. Brandon Workman was summoned from the bullpen and allowed the Indians to load the bases on a single to center by Lindor, but he bounced back to retire Jackson on strikes and Ramirez on a grounder to second.
Cleveland continued to pad its lead in the middle innings. Bruce homered with one out in the sixth off of Workman and a pair of extra base hits with two outs – a triple by Diaz and a double by Perez – scored the tenth run of the game. Lindor led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo homer, starting a stretch of four straight batters to reach base. Bradley Zimmer singled, Ramirez doubled him over to third, and Encarnacion walked again to load the bases against Blaine Boyer. Fernando Abad came on and struck out Bruce for the first out, but a sacrifice fly by Guyer made it a 12-4 Tribe lead. Diaz stepped up to the plate, just a homer short of the cycle and staring down his likely last at bat of the game and he sent a long drive to deep right that hit at the base of the wall. Ramirez scored and Diaz pulled into second, but his foot lifted just off of the bag for a split second and John Farrell challenged the call, with the overturned play ending the inning.
Moreland came through for the Red Sox again in the eighth, hitting a two-run home run for his second no-doubter of the night, this one off of Nick Goody. It made it a 13-6 game and would be the last of the scoring.
The Red Sox (73-54) won the season series between the two clubs, 4-3, but they split the four-game set at Progressive Field with two wins each. The Indians (70-56) hit the 70-win mark and pushed their lead in the AL Central to five and a half games with Chicago’s victory over Minnesota.
Sale (14-6, 2.88 ERA) lost his grip of the ERA lead as the Indians ran him after just three innings. He needed 67 pitches to get nine outs and allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts along the way.
Bauer (13-8, 4.59) was able to pitch into the sixth, allowing four runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out eight and now leads the Tribe pitching staff in wins on the year with his 13.
Diaz ended his long slump at the plate with a massive breakout performance, going 4-for-4 with a single, two doubles, and a triple while scoring four runs. He reached base successfully all five trips, including his walk in the second in his first plate appearance of the night. Urshela drove in four runs on two hits from the ninth spot in the lineup while Lindor had a three-hit game at the top of the order while knocking in two. His homer was his 22nd of the season.
Bogaerts and Moreland were the driving forces of the Red Sox lineup. Moreland had three hits, four runs batted in, and two runs scored. Bogaerts had a pair of hits, two runs scored, and two driven in.
The Indians will continue their homestand on Friday night in front of what should be some large weekend crowds. The third place Kansas City Royals will be the visitors, making it the second straight weekend that the Tribe and Royals have paired up for a three-game set. The Red Sox will return to Boston to host the Baltimore Orioles.
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