For four innings, all was quiet in a getaway day afternoon game between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox from Fenway Park.
Then, the fifth inning happened. The Red Sox ripped off six runs on three separate two-run doubles off of starter Adam Plutko and reliever Adam Cimber to support eight shutout innings from David Price in a 7-0 final.
Staring down a rare home series loss, the Red Sox salvaged the set with back-to-back wins in the final two games of the four-game matchup between prospective playoff foes. Price and Tyler Thornburg limited the Indians to just five hits on the day while not issuing a free pass.
With the exception of a Greg Allen single in the third, the Indians had made no noise against Price, who has handled Cleveland with ease throughout his career. Plutko had contained the Red Sox, stranding a pair in the first and the fourth.
The game unraveled in the bottom of the fifth for Plutko and the Tribe. Sandy Leon started the mess with a ground rule double to right. Jackie Bradley Jr. singled and, after a fly out by Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi walked to load the bases. Blake Swihart drove two home with a double to right and J.D. Martinez was intentionally walked to reload the bases, ending Plutko’s afternoon. Cimber entered but gave up a double to left to Xander Bogaerts that plated a pair to make it a 4-0 game. After the third walk of the inning and second intentional pass, Eduardo Nunez sent a bases loaded double to right to drive in Martinez and Bogaerts to give Boston a 6-0 lead. Oliver Perez came on and retired the next two batters.
Boston added a final run in the bottom of the sixth after three singles from Betts, Swihart, and Martinez against Josh Tomlin.
Price shut down the Tribe. He struck out a batter in the first and second and struck out a pair around Allen’s single in the third. He got three outs in the air in the fourth before adding his fifth K of the game in the fifth. He made it six strikeouts through six one-hit innings, but finally had to battle a bit in the seventh when Yandy Diaz singled to start the inning and moved to second with one out on a single to left by Edwin Encarnacion. With their best scoring opportunity of the day, Melky Cabrera lined into a double play. A double play would end Price’s last inning on the mound – Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch but erased on a double play groundout by Jason Kipnis.
Thornburg allowed a pair of hits in the ninth as Allen and Francisco Lindor each reached, but for the third straight inning, a double play short circuited a rally attempt as Diaz was doubled up on a grounder.
The Red Sox became the first 90-win team in baseball with their second straight win. Their lead over the New York Yankees increased to nine and a half games. The Indians fell to 73-54 on the season with their second straight defeat. They still have a 12-game edge over the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.
Price moved to 14-6 on the year and dropped his ERA to 3.50 with eight shutout innings of three-hit baseball. He struck out seven and left after 101 pitches, having allowed just four total base runners on the day.
Plutko dropped to 4-4 with a tough start. After dodging some early threats, the fifth proved to be his undoing. He allowed five runs on five hits, but more discouraging were the five free passes he allowed (one intentional). He struck out four and matched Price’s 101 pitches, but did so in just four and one-third innings.
“He competed like crazy,” said manager Terry Francona. “Then we got into the fifth and we just couldn’t stop the bleeding.”
Every Red Sox player reached base safely during the contest. Benintendi was the only Sox batter without a hit, but he reached twice via walk. Mitch Moreland left the game in the first inning with a bruised knee.
One day after his 14-game hitting streak came to an end, Allen led the way for the Indians with a two-hit game. He went 5-for-13 in the series with the Red Sox with a double, a homer, three RBI, and a stolen base.
Prior to the game, the Indians activated Tomlin from the disabled list and placed reliever Neil Ramirez on the 10-day DL with lower back spasms.
The Indians will hit the road for Kansas City, where they will start a three-game series with the Royals on Friday night to cap off a seven-game road trip.
The Red Sox will vacation in Florida, where they will face the Tampa Bay Rays for three straight.
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