The Indians rallied back from a 6-1 deficit, but fell in extras as the Red Sox’s Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in the go-ahead run with a solo homer in the top of the tenth inning against Cleveland’s Nick Wittgren as Boston pulled out a 7-6 victory.
It was a tough way for things to end for the Tribe after crawling all the way back out of a five-run hole felt more than midway through the contest in a matchup against the struggling Chris Sale. He was backed by some early run support against Mike Clevinger, who was unable to make it through five innings.
Boston jumped in front with a run in the first as the top of the order struck through with a pair of big extra base hits. Mookie Betts slapped a 2-2 pitch over Oscar Mercado in center before motoring in to third with a triple. Rafael Devers’ history making performance started as he sent a four-seamer back into left field for an RBI-double.
Sale struck out the side swinging in the first before the Red Sox got back to work against Clevinger. After a strikeout by Mitch Moreland, Marco Hernandez reached on an infield single to short. Sandy Leon walked on five pitches to put a runner in scoring position before Bradley Jr. fouled out. Betts fell behind in the count 0-2 before he singled to left to score Hernandez easily before Leon was thrown out by Greg Allen trying to go first to third on the play.
The Red Sox threatened again in the third as three men reached. Devers singled for his second hit of the game. Bogaerts struck out ahead of a caught stealing by Devers for the second out. J.D. Martinez singled and Andrew Benintendi walked before Moreland flied out to left.
Sale retired the first eight batters in a row before number nine hitter Tyler Naquin put the Indians in the hit column with a single to left off of Sale. Francisco Lindor reached safely on a single to third, giving the Indians their first scoring chance, but Mercado struck out swinging.
The Indians skipped the rally efforts in the fourth inning as they got on the board with a big swing from a familiar name. On the first pitch of the home half, Carlos Santana clobbered a fastball over the dish for his third home run in as many games, cutting the deficit to 2-1 before Sale struck out the next three in order.
The Red Sox responded with a pair of runs in the fifth to extend their lead. Devers recorded his third hit of the game with a double to center. Bogaerts flied to left for the first out before Martinez moved Devers to third with a single. Benintendi struck out on four pitches for the second out, but Moreland delivered with a single to right-center to score Devers to make it 3-1. Hernandez made it 4-1 with a single to left to drive in Martinez from third. With eleven hits allowed and four runs in the hole, manager Terry Francona pulled Clevinger for left-hander Josh Smith, who got Leon to ground back to the mound.
Sale retired the side in order again in the fifth before the Sox tacked on a pair. Bradley Jr. was hit by a pitch and Betts walked on four straight pitches. Devers pushed the count to full before doubling Smith’s payoff pitch to deep left field to score both base runners to make it a 6-1 score.
Cleveland finally struck through big against Sale in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Santana walked and Franmil Reyes went deep for the second time as an Indian on the next pitch, cutting the Red Sox lead down to 6-3.
Sale returned for the seventh and promptly walked Roberto Perez on five pitches to open the frame. A strikeout by Jason Kipnis put the first out on the board before Allen put a pair of runners in scoring position on a grounder to Devers that went for an error. Naquin popped out for the second out before Lindor knocked across two more runs with a double to left to make it a 6-5 game. Alex Cora went to his bullpen, calling on Matt Barnes. He allowed an infield single to Mercado to put runners on the corners, but he struck out Santana on four strikes to leave the tying run 90 feet away.
Adam Cimber used a double play ball to escape the eighth before the Indians got another runner into scoring position. Reyes walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Mike Freeman. Left-hander Josh Taylor came on and got Jose Ramirez to ground to third for the first out. Nathan Eovaldi, Wednesday’s scheduled starter, entered and stranded Freeman at second, striking out Perez before Kipnis grounded out.
Brandon Workman, the Red Sox closer, came on for the ninth after a perfect inning tossed by the Indians’ Tyler Clippard. Allen opened the inning with a single to right before stealing second. Naquin struck out, but Lindor used his second RBI-double of the game to score Allen to tie the game at six. With the scuffling Mercado at the plate, Lindor tried to swipe third curiously and was thrown out by Leon for the second out, and the Tribe center fielder flied to right to end the inning.
Wittgren opened the tenth for Cleveland and struck out pinch-hitter Christian Vazquez for the first out before Bradley Jr. parked a 2-0 changeup over the wall in right to put the Red Sox back up. Wittgren gave up a two-out double to Devers, his sixth hit in six trips, before he was caught in a run down between first and home on an infield single to Santana at first.
Andrew Cashner, making his first relief appearance for the Red Sox, took over looking for the save in the bottom of the tenth. Santana singled to left to start the inning, but he was forced at second on a bunt by Freeman before Cashner struck out both Ramirez and Perez swinging to close out the save.
Coupled with a Minnesota win, Cleveland (72-48) dropped a half game behind the Twins in the American League Central Division. Boston improved to 63-59 on the season with the victory.
Clevinger took a no-decision, keeping his six-game winning streak alive. He allowed four runs on eleven hits with a pair of walks and six strikeouts in just four and two-thirds innings, needed 103 pitches to get his 14 outs on the night. Smith was tagged for two more runs while logging two and one-third innings on the mound. Wittgren took his first loss of the year, giving up three hits and one run in an inning of work.
Sale was tagged for five runs in six and two-thirds innings, but just three of those runs were earned in his no-decision. He walked a pair and struck out 12 batters, accounting for a large chunk of the 17 batters struck out by Boston pitching on the night. His strikeout total helped push him over 2,000 in his career, making him the quickest pitcher to reach that milestone in Major League history. The bullpen worked three and one-third innings of one-run baseball, allowing four hits while striking out five.
The story of the night, aside from Bradley’s game winner, was the six-hit game by Devers. He recorded four doubles, including two off of Clevinger, and two hits while scoring once and driving in three. He is now hitting .325 on the season. He became the first player in Major League history to record four doubles and six hits in a game. Bogaerts struck out three times behind him, but went 2-for-6 overall on the night.
Lindor had two doubles and a single out of the leadoff spot for the Indians in a 3-for-5 day at the plate. He drove in three and is now hitting .303, but his caught stealing in the bottom of the ninth proved to be a costly out.
“I messed up,” Lindor said after the game. “It’s a rookie mistake…I felt good. When I took off, I felt like I was gonna make it. Just getting ahead of myself. That was my bad. That’s on me. This one’s on me.”
Francona was less harsh towards his veteran All-Star shortstop. “It’s bang bang and if he makes it, we probably win. And I don’t want to take our aggressiveness away because every once in a while you are going to be out.”
Santana’s homer was his third in as many days and gave him 27 on the season. Perez had a terrible day at the dish for the Indians, going 0-for-4 with a walk and four strikeouts for the golden sombrero. Mercado struck out three times.
The rubber match of the three-game set is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET on Wednesday afternoon from downtown Cleveland. Right-hander Shane Bieber (12-4, 3.28 ERA) will continue his Cy Young consideration season for the Tribe, while left-hander Brian Johnson (1-1, 7.32) is expected to take the mound for the Red Sox.
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