Bogaerts Blasts a Pair as Red Sox Claim Series from Tribe; Red Sox 5, Indians 1
Bob Toth | On 14, Aug 2019
While the pressure may have been on the Cleveland Indians to hold down their brief spot atop the American League Central Division during their series with the Boston Red Sox this week, any hopes for a World Series repeat from the pride of New England may have rested on having a playoff-caliber series in Cleveland. The Sox kept those fading hopes alive on Wednesday, taking their series at Progressive Field against the Indians by riding two long balls from All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts to oust Shane Bieber by a 5-1 final.
The slumping Red Sox claimed a second game in a tightly fought series between the two clubs. The first two games were decided by late inning rallies – the Red Sox rallied back on Monday, only to be defeated on a walk-off home run from Carlos Santana, while Boston held off a five-run rally by Cleveland to win in extras on Tuesday night on a Jackie Bradley Jr. homer in the top of the tenth.
Wednesday’s finale skipped some of the dramatics as the Red Sox used two runs in the third and three more in the seventh to knock off the Tribe. The Indians mustered just four hits on the day, with two of them coming against starting left-hander Brian Johnson in two and two-thirds innings before being limited to just two more knocks over the final six and one-third innings.
Bieber, pitching under the weather while dealing with nausea, dealt with some early traffic on the bases as Boston got a runner to second in the first and put runners on the corners with two down in the second before a strikeout by Tuesday’s hero Bradley Jr. ended the threat. In the third, the Red Sox skipped run production attempts and just poked the ball over the fence instead, as Rafael Devers and Bogaerts went back-to-back with one down in the inning to put Boston up by a 2-0 score.
The Indians stranded two-out base runners in each of the first two innings against Johnson before touching up the scoreboard, with some help from the Red Sox defense. Francisco Lindor reached on a one-out single and moved into scoring position on a throwing error by Bogaerts. Oscar Mercado reached on the second error of the inning, this one from the other homering Sox player in Devers at third. A wild pitch by Johnson on his first offering to Santana allowed Lindor to score and Mercado to move into scoring position. Santana struck out swinging for the second out before a walk by Jose Ramirez, but Marcus Walden escaped the jam on one pitch, getting Franmil Reyes to ground into a fielder’s choice at short.
Bieber continued to walk a tight rope. He gave up a pair of singles in the fourth to Sam Travis and Christian Vazquez to put runners on the corners, but he struck out Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts to escape unharmed. Bogaerts was left on first after a one-out walk in the fifth. He retired the side in order in the sixth for the first time on the day.
While Bieber was able to work out of some tough spots, the Indians could get little going against the Red Sox bullpen. Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez got out of the fourth with a double play ball and exited in a mess in the fifth after a two-out single by Mercado was followed by a walk by Santana. Josh Taylor, pitching for the second day in a row, got Ramirez to fly to center to leave a pair.
Nathan Eovaldi pitched the sixth and set down the side in order with a pair of strikeouts before his teammate broke the game open with a big inning against Nick Goody in the seventh. After getting Bradley Jr. to foul out to Ramirez at third, Betts fouled off several pitches before doubling to left. Devers was intentionally walked and Bogaerts worked the count from 0-2 to 3-2 before driving a payoff slider over the wall in left for a back-breaking three-run home run, his second of the game, to put the Red Sox up by a 5-1 count.
Eovaldi gave up a single to Kevin Plawecki to start the bottom of the seventh, but he left the Tribe catcher stranded at first on three straight outs in the air. Andrew Cashner, who had saved Tuesday’s game in the tenth, retired the next three to clear the eighth and closer Brandon Workman worked a non-save situation, setting down all three that he faced to close the door on any rally attempts from the Tribe in the series finale.
Boston improved to 64-59 and won back-to-back games for just the second time in August. Cleveland dropped to 72-49, but remained a half game out of the AL Central as Minnesota fell late to Milwaukee.
Bieber gave the Indians a quality start but was the tough-luck loser to move to 12-5 on the season. He allowed just a pair of runs – the back-to-back third inning jacks by Devers and Bogaerts – on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. The K total pushed him over the 200-strikeout mark on the season, making him the youngest Indians pitcher to reach that plateau since Dennis Eckersley in 1976.
Seven different pitchers took the mound for Boston in a bullpen-style game, with Johnson logging the biggest stay on the rubber at two and two-thirds innings. He allowed one unearned run on two hits with two walks and one strikeout. Eovaldi earned his first win of the season, working two scoreless innings with a hit and two strikeouts.
Devers reached in each of his first two plate appearances to post hits in eight straight at bats for the Red Sox. He went 2-for-4 on the day with a walk, two runs scored, and one driven in on his 25th homer of the season. Bogaerts drove in four of the five Red Sox runs, hitting home runs 26 and 27 of the campaign on his three-hit day to reach the 100 career homer mark. J.D. Martinez and Bradley Jr. each struck out three times, with the hitless performance from Martinez ending a 12-game hitting streak.
Prior to the game, the Indians called up Logan Allen from Triple-A Columbus while shipping out left-hander Josh Smith, who pitched extended innings in Tuesday’s loss. Acquired as part of the July 31 three-team trade centering around pitcher Trevor Bauer, Allen worked two and one-third innings, allowing a base runner in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings while keeping the Red Sox at five runs.
The Indians will relocate to the Big Apple for seven games over the next eight days against the Yankees and Mets. Adam Plutko (4-3, 4.68 ERA) will draw the starting nod in Thursday’s 7:05 PM ET start against the Yankees’ Chad Green (2-3, 4.69).
Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images