The Cleveland Indians scored runs in each of the first seven innings and held off Boston late to earn a second big win over the Red Sox in as many days behind a 14-9 final from Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
Carlos Santana fell a single short of the cycle but reached base five times, scored a career-high four runs, and drove in five as the Indians’ offense was alive and well in the series finale from Beantown in a game that will not be remembered for quality pitching. Three different Tribe hitters had three hits, all nine starters reached base safely throughout the day, and the team got a win for starter Shane Bieber despite a sloppy six runs scattered over a five-and-fly as the two clubs combined for 23 runs on 32 hits.
THE 1ST – TRIBE TAKES THE LEAD
The Indians struck for first blood in the top of the first against right-hander Ryan Weber, making his second start of the season and fifth overall appearance. After he retired Francisco Lindor on a grounder to second, Oscar Mercado put the Indians in the hit column for the first of 18 times with a single to left. Santana worked a 3-1 count before driving a fifth straight sinker to the cutout portion of center field. Mercado scored and Santana scampered to third with the Indians’ first triple of the season, becoming the last of 30 teams to record a three-base hit (Miami notched its first earlier in the day). Santana scored on the next pitch as Weber was wild to Christian Vazquez, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.
The Red Sox’s deficit was cut in half on the second batter faced by Bieber in the home half of the first as Mookie Betts drove a 3-2 pitch over the Green Monster in left for his ninth homer of the season.
THE 2ND – RED SOX TIE IT UP
The Indians added on in the second, but so too did the Sox. Jake Bauers doubled high off of the wall in center and was joined on the bases on the next pitch as Greg Allen was hit in the left leg on a bunt attempt that he pulled back. Two pitches later, the Indians led 3-1 as Kevin Plawecki hit a shot to the gap in right-center that was nearly caught by a diving Betts. Bauers scored, but Allen had to hold up at second. Weber retired the next three in order to strand a pair.
Boston quickly added to its run total in its half of the inning. Xander Bogaerts singled to left and scored on a Brock Holt double. Bieber retired the next two, but Vazquez kept the inning alive with a grounder to the hole at short. Andrew Benintendi worked the count from 0-2 to 2-2 before blasting a curveball to the wall in right for an RBI-double, tying the game at three. With two more runners in scoring position, Bieber got a key strikeout looking of Betts to strand a pair.
THE 3RD – TRIBE TOUCHES HOME THREE MORE TIMES
The Indians doubled their pleasure in the third, but ran themselves out of further fun. Santana reached base for the second time on the day with a leadoff walk. Jason Kipnis singled to left-center before being forced at second on a fielder’s choice off of the bat of Jose Ramirez. The seven and eight hitters came through, as Bauers singled the next pitch to right to score Santana and Allen cleared both base runners with the Indians’ second triple in three innings to make it a 6-3 contest. After a groundout by Plawecki, Leonys Martin walked, but he was caught trying to steal with Lindor at the plate to end the inning.
Bieber responded with his first shutdown inning of the day.
THE 4TH – RED SOX RESPOND AGAIN
The Indians made their mark in easier fashion in the fourth, scoring for the fourth straight inning behind a two-out opposite field solo shot over the Monster by Santana, making it a 7-3 game.
Not to be outdone, the Red Sox responded with two homers off of Bieber in the bottom half with two outs to cut the score down to one. After a groundout and a strikeout to start the inning, Boston got back on the board on a solo homer deep to left by Jackie Bradley Jr. Vazquez singled before trotting home on a first pitch blast by Benintendi, as his two-out, two-run home run made the score 7-6.
THE 5TH – FIVE IN A ROW
As was the case three of the four times that the Red Sox scored on Wednesday, the Indians responded with a tally of their own. Facing Josh Taylor, fresh up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Ramirez doubled off of the wall in left, moved to third on a grounder to short by Bauers, stayed put on a fly to center by Allen, then scored with ease as Plawecki doubled for the second time on the night, giving the Indians a run back and an 8-6 lead.
THE 6TH – JRAM DELIVERS
Ramirez delivered again with a double for the second straight inning to pad the Indians’ lead. Lindor started the inning against another reinforcement from Pawtucket, Colten Brewer, and singled to right before Mercado struck out. Santana drew his second walk of the game and the pair moved up on an out by Kipnis on a liner off of Brewer’s arm. Ramirez sent the next pitch to the wall in right and over it for a ground rule double, scoring both runners in scoring position to put Cleveland up, 10-6.
THE 7TH – FOUR MAKES FOURTEEN
After a scoreless inning from Oliver Perez, the Indians offense tacked on four more big runs of insurance in the seventh to score for a seventh consecutive inning (and nine dating back to the final two frames of Tuesday’s come-from-behind victory). Allen set the table with a hustle triple off of Hector Velazquez. Plawecki walked before a Martin strikeout. Back at the top of the order, Lindor singled home Allen and Mercado loaded the bases with a base hit hard off of the wall in left. Santana, already 2-for-2 with two walks and the hardest two legs of the cycle completed, pounced on a 2-1 fastball and split the left and center fielders for a bases-clearing three-run double to give the Indians a 14-6 advantage. Velazquez retired the next two to stop the bleeding.
THE 8TH – RED SOX RALLY
The Red Sox struck through against A.J. Cole for a second straight night to make it a game again. After two innings of scoreless relief from Perez, Cole took over to start the bottom of the eighth. Martinez reached on an error by Ramirez at third and Bogaerts made it a costly mistake as he parked a souvenir atop the Green Monster to make it 14-8. Cole got the next two before Bradley Jr. doubled to center on a ball misplayed by Martin. Vazquez doubled him home to make it 14-9. Tyler Olson was brought on to get the final out and he did just that, cutting down Benintendi swinging.
THE 9TH – GIVE ME A HAND
The Indians left a pair against Heath Hembree in the top of the ninth on back-to-back one-out singles by Lindor and Mercado, including a gift hit that dropped between Chavis and Betts in shallow right. Santana, looking to hit the ninth cycle in Indians history, struck out swinging looking for a single. Kipnis struck out to leave a pair.
Olson started the final frame, but consecutive base hits from Betts and Devers (extending his hitting streak to ten straight) chased him from the mound. Nick Wittgren, who struggled on Tuesday night late but earned the win, struck out Martinez on the first batter faced on his 28th birthday before walking Bogaerts to load the bases. Brad Hand entered in what had become a save situation and got pinch-hitter Eduardo Nunez to foul out to Ramirez before Michael Chavis ended the game with a five-unassisted force at third from Ramirez.
Hand is now 15-for-15 in save situations on the season. The win moved the Indians back above the .500 mark at 28-27 and gave them a rare series win from Fenway Park with a 2-1 start to their seven-game road trip. The Red Sox dropped to 29-27 on the season.
BIEBER’S BAD DAY
Bieber gave the Indians five innings, but he was once again victimized by the long ball. He retired the side in order just twice on the night and gave up runs in three of the five innings that he pitched. He spent much of the game in the strike zone (55 of 77 pitches), but the Red Sox were able to turn that into eight hits (including three home runs) and six earned runs. The soon-to-be 24-year-old (his birthday is Friday) has given up 13 home runs on the season, tied for the most on the pitching staff and eighth-highest in the American League.
“They ambushed him a couple times on fastballs early in the count,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “After the last two starts, he had worked so hard, that he got us through the fifth which I thought really showed something.”
BOTTLE UP THIS OFFENSE
The Indians combined for an 8-for-23 effort at the plate on Wednesday with runners in scoring position. All nine men in the lineup reached base safely, including eight via hit. Martin was the only player held hitless in an 18-hit effort from the top eight hitters in the lineup.
The top three hitters in the Tribe lineup combined to go 9-for-16 with two walks, eight runs scored, and six runs batted in. Lindor, Mercado, and Santana each contributed three-hit games, while four others chipped in two-hit games.
“Two walks, a double, triple, and a homer, and it sounded loud when he hit the ball. That’s good,” said Francona in regards to Santana’s performance. “He had had a tough week. It looks like both he and Frankie started swinging the bat better.”
The Indians established new season highs for hits, extra base hits, total bases, and triples, and tied high-water marks for doubles and runs scored (per Indians Twitter).
“We swung the bats very well tonight. It’s a good thing,” Francona said. “I’m glad there wasn’t another couple innings because they just kept coming. They were trying to save their pitching, but their offense kept getting them back in the game.”
Ramirez contributed back-to-back multi-hit nights for first time since August.
FIFTEEN HUNDRED CLUB
With his final of three strikeouts on the night, Perez reached a milestone mark, recording his 1,500th career strikeout. The 37-year-old and 16-year veteran has 21 on the season in 15 1/3 innings of work.
TITO AN ALL-STAR
Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced prior to Wednesday’s game that Francona would be a part of his American League All-Star team coaching staff.
“I’ll try to stay out of the way mostly,” Francona shared before the series finale in a story on MLB.com. “I’m there because I got invited and we’re the home team. His staff deserves to be front and center because of what they did last year. That’s an honor. I’m honored because they asked me.”
Prior to the game, the Red Sox placed Mitch Moreland on the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain. The team’s leading home run hitter had missed the first two games of the series with the Indians and had not played since Saturday. Boston also optioned Tuesday’s losing reliever Travis Lakins to Triple-A Pawtucket while recalling pitchers Brewer and Taylor from their top farm affiliate.
The Indians will change their Sox in time for tomorrow’s game as the club packs up from Boston and relocates to Chicago to start a four-game series with the White Sox.
Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images