For the second straight night, the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox needed eleven innings to decide a winner. And for the second straight night, it was the Indians who came away victorious as Greg Allen delivered a bases loaded single with one out to give Cleveland a walk-off win in the final home game of the 2018 season.
The early innings provided a back-and-forth contest as the Indians fell behind early before a big three-run outburst in the fourth. The lead lasted for just a batter, and then both offenses went silent until the Cleveland lineup found the plate one final time.
William Cuevas, working in his sixth different inning of long relief, walked Jose Ramirez to start the eleventh. Rajai Davis sacrificed him to second and he moved to third on an error off of a Erik Gonzalez grounder to short. Robby Scott replaced Cuevas, intentionally walking Yandy Diaz to create a force at home or a double play, but Allen won it with a single to shallow left to drive home Ramirez with the winning run.
With the win, the Indians (87-68) claimed the season series with the Red Sox (105-51), four games to three. They also prevented Boston from setting a new franchise record for wins in a season, something that they will likely accomplish over their final six games of the season.
Boston got on the board first in the first with some help from Indians starter Adam Plutko. Mookie Betts worked a seven-pitch battle to start the game before driving a double to center. Andrew Benintendi sacrificed Betts to third and Xander Bogaerts walked on five pitches. With Rafael Devers at the plate, Plutko missed the zone and the ball went to the backstop, allowing Betts to score on the wild pitch. Plutko recovered to get a pair of outs in the air to strand Bogaerts.
Hector Velazquez, who appeared in Friday’s game in relief, made the start for the Red Sox on Sunday night. He worked through a quick and quiet first and worked out of a massive jam in the second after Edwin Encarnacion hit a drive to center. Jackie Bradley Jr. slipped on the turf and the ball went all the way to the wall, allowing the lumbering slugger to head all the way to third with a standup triple. Josh Donaldson grounded to Bogaerts, who fired to the plate where Encarnacion was tagged out. Yonder Alonso followed with a single, moving Donaldson into scoring position, but Melky Cabrera grounded into a double play to end the threat.
The Red Sox added to their lead in the third. Christian Vazquez and Betts each singled to start the inning. Benintendi popped out before Bogaerts walked on four straight balls to load the bases. Devers grounded out to first for the second out, scoring Vazquez from third, but Steve Pearce grounded to first to end the inning.
Velazquez worked another quick inning in the third, but ran out of gas in the bottom of the fourth. Michael Brantley started the inning with a single before Ramirez struck out on three straight junk balls. The Indians got a little help from there from Velazquez, who threw wild on a pickoff attempt, allowing Brantley to move to second. A wild pitch allowed him to advance to third. Encarnacion put the Indians on the board with a single to left, driving in his 100th run of the season to make it 2-1. Former Cleveland minor leaguer Steven Wright came on in relief for Alex Cora, but he was unable to keep the Indians off of the scoreboard. He struck out Donaldson, but Encarnacion moved up on a passed ball. A single by Alonso and an error by Bradley put two in scoring position. Cabrera yanked a knuckleball into the right field corner for a two-run double to put Cleveland up, 3-2.
The lead lasted just six pitches, as Betts started the fifth inning by driving a 3-2 four-seamer from Plutko to center to tie the game at three.
The Red Sox bullpen shut down the Tribe over the next few innings, as Bobby Poyner retired three in a row before walking Ramirez to start the sixth. Cuevas came on and struck out Encarnacion before getting Donaldson to ground into a double play. He used another double play to get out of the seventh, erasing a walk of Cabrera with one down as the pinch-runner Allen was doubled up on a caught stealing after a Kipnis strikeout.
Jon Edwards and Neil Ramirez worked out of a dangerous mess in the eighth. Devers and Pearce each walked off of Edwards before Mitch Moreland flied out. Ramirez entered and struck out Ian Kinsler for the second out before Bradley Jr. was hit by a 1-2 pitch to load the bases. With the bases full of Red Sox, Vazquez fouled off three straight pitches before popping out to second. Adam Cimber had a similar problem in the ninth, as he retired the first two batters before Tzu-Wei Lin doubled to left. Devers was intentionally walked before Cimber retired Pearce on a grounder.
The Indians had chances in the eighth and ninth against Cuevas, but could not deliver. Francisco Lindor was hit by a pitch with one out, but two outs in the air left him at first in the eighth. Encarnacion walked to start the ninth, but pinch-runner Davis was caught stealing before Cuevas retired the next two.
Cuevas returned for the tenth for his fifth different inning of work and had his toughest inning to that point, but he prevented the game from ending at the time. Allen grounded out before Kipnis doubled. Eric Haase reached on an infield single to short to put two on and Lindor grounded to second to move the winning run to third, but Saturday’s hero, Brantley, grounded out.
Josh Tomlin, who started on Thursday, handled all of the extra inning business for the Indians. He allowed a two-out hit to Bradley Jr. in the tenth before getting Vazquez to fly out. In the eleventh, Lin walked with two outs, but Devers grounded back to the mound. He earned his second win of the season, both in relief.
Plutko gave the Indians a quality outing, lasting six full innings. He allowed three runs on five hits, walking three and striking out two while throwing a career-high 109 pitches. The bullpen behind him worked five scoreless innings of three-hit baseball, walking four and striking out five in the process.
Velazquez gave up two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in three and one-third innings prior to turning the game over to the Boston bullpen. Cuevas did the heaviest lifting, working a career-high five and one-third innings, but he took the loss in the final frame. He gave up just one run on two hits with three walks and four strikeouts while throwing 93 pitches.
Encarnacion and Alonso each had two hits to leave the offense. Encarnacion drove in his 100th run, marking the fourth time in his career (and the sixth time in the last seven years) that he has reached the century mark.
Bogaerts, who had been a pest to the Indians throughout the season series between the two clubs, left the game after appearing to injure his shoulder during his at bat in the seventh.
The Indians will spend the final week of the regular season on the road, starting with three games in Chicago against the White Sox. They will head to Kansas City afterwards to finish the schedule with four games against the Royals. The Red Sox will close out the regular season with six straight from Fenway Park, hosting the Baltimore Orioles prior to facing the New York Yankees.
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