Tribe Loses Lead for Good in Four-Run Seventh; Red Sox 7, Indians 5
Bob Toth | On 21, Sep 2018
Rookie starter Shane Bieber was unable to protect a 4-1 lead, allowing six runs on eight hits in relief, as the Cleveland Indians fell to the Boston Red Sox by a 7-5 final on Friday night from Progressive Field.
The Red Sox (105-49) matched a franchise-best mark with their 105th win of the season while winning their third in a row over the Indians, a possible playoff matchup for them on their quest for a World Series. In the three previous years that the Red Sox earned more than 100 wins, the team has reached the championship series, winning twice and losing once.
Neither teams’ starting pitchers lasted long in the contest, but that was by design. Chris Sale and Trevor Bauer, both prime Cy Young candidates at stretches during the season, took the mound while working back from disabled list stints that cost the pair a month of action each. Sale made his third start since being activated and was coming off of one inning of work in his first outing and three his next time out. Bauer was activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to the game by the Indians after being out of action since August 11 with a stress fracture in his right fibula.
Bauer departed in the second inning after making 34 pitches and retiring four batters. He allowed two hits and a walk while striking out one. The Red Sox put the pressure on him in the second inning, as Steve Pearce and Brock Holt each singled with one out, but Tyler Olson came on from the Indians bullpen to get a big double play ball from Blake Swihart.
Bieber began the third inning for the Tribe, making his first Major League relief appearance. But two pitches into his outing, Sam Travis took him deep to right with his first MLB homer to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
Sale retired the side in order in the first and gave up a one-out single to Josh Donaldson in the second, but was moving along nicely until the third. Yan Gomes began the inning with a single, but Sale struck out the next two. Michael Brantley kept the inning alive with a single to center to put runners on the corners, but Jose Ramirez grounded out to short.
Things changed quickly in the fourth for the Indians as the score swung in their favor on two big swings. With one out, Donaldson got his second hit of the game off of Sale, driving a 1-2 fastball to the bleachers for his second homer with Cleveland, tying the game at one. Yandy Diaz singled, ending Sale’s night. Heath Hembree came on in relief and got Brandon Guyer to ground to short for the second out, but Gomes made his second hit of the night a big one, sending a two-out, two-run home run over the fence in center on a first pitch curveball to put the Indians in front, 3-1.
The first two reached in the fifth against Bieber, but for the third time in the ball game, the Indians turned a timely double play. Cleveland then added another run in the fifth against Bobby Poyner, as Francisco Lindor doubled and moved to third on an infield single by Brantley. A sacrifice fly from Ramirez made it a 4-1 game.
Bieber allowed a two-out solo shot to Rafael Devers in the sixth to cut the score in half at 4-2, but things fell apart for the Tribe the next inning as the Sox sent ten men to the plate and reclaimed the lead. Holt and Swihart each singled with one out and the pair moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. Travis doubled both runners home with a shot to right-center to tie the game at four. Sandy Leon moved the runner to third on a grounder to second and Tzu-Wei Lin knocked the runner in with a single back to Bieber to make it a 5-4 Red Sox lead. Former Indians prospect Brandon Phillips joined the hit parade with a single to right to put runners on the corners and Devers, facing reliever Neil Ramirez, singled in the run to give the Red Sox a two-run advantage. Ramirez walked J.D. Martinez to load the bases, but got the tenth man Pearce to ground into a force at third.
The Indians rallied back against Drew Pomeranz after the stretch. After strikeouts by Jason Kipnis and Lindor to start the inning, Brantley was hit by a pitch. He scored all the way from first on a double to left by Ramirez, making it a 6-5 score. With the tying run at second, Edwin Encarnacion walked, but reliever Brandon Workman retired Donaldson on a liner to center to leave two big runs on base.
Cleveland missed another chance in the bottom of the eighth. Erik Gonzalez reached on error and Gomes doubled him to third one out later against Hector Velazquez. Robby Scott worked out of it, getting Kipnis to foul out to the catcher before an intentional walk of Lindor. Brantley fouled out down the left field line to leave the bases full in a one-run game.
The Red Sox added a valuable insurance run in the ninth, when Lin took Dan Otero deep for his first career home run, making it a 7-5 contest. The Tribe bats went quietly in the home half in their last efforts, as Ramirez grounded out, Encarnacion struck out, and Donaldson grounded out against tough closer Craig Kimbrel, who earned his 42nd save of the year.
The Indians fell to 85-68 on the season and 47-32 at home.
Matt Barnes got the win for the Red Sox, his sixth of the season, with a scoreless inning of work. He walked one and struck out one. Bieber took the defeat for Cleveland, his fifth, after working four and two-thirds innings in relief. He allowed six runs on eight hits with two walks and just one strikeout.
Game two of the three-game set from Progressive Field will start at 7:10 PM ET on Saturday night. Right-hander Mike Clevinger (12-8, 3.06 ERA) will take the mound for the Indians, needing just four strikeouts to become the fourth different Indians pitcher to record 200 strikeouts this season. Rick Porcello (17-7, 4.30), a longtime Indians nemesis, will take the bump for the Red Sox in his 24th career start against Cleveland. He owns a 10-5 record lifetime against the Indians with a 3.51 ERA.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images