The Tribe’s trip to Boston ended on a sour note Sunday as the Red Sox (15-19) beat up on the Indians (18-16) for a 12-1 blowout victory.
It didn’t take long for the Boston to get on the board. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Justin Masterson walked David Ortiz before ceding a double to Adrian Gonzalez. Will Middlebrooks drove in Ortiz with an RBI single and Daniel Nava followed with an RBI double to plate Gonzalez. Masterson then beaned Cody Ross to load the bases for Jarrod Saltamacchia, who came through with a two-run single. Mike Aviles—the Red Sox’ ninth batter of the inning—finally flew out to end the rally, but Boston had already jumped out to a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Indians responded with their only run of the game in the third. Jack Hannahan and Johnny Damon drew one-out walks off Boston starter Daniel Bard and Jason Kipnis followed with an RBI single to load the bases for Asdrubal Cabrera, who worked a rare four-pitch RBI walk. The go-ahead run stepped to the plate in the form of Travis Hafner, but he grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Red Sox struck back in the bottom of the inning as Middlebrooks took Masterson deep for a solo home run. They scored again in the sixth as Nava got hit by a pitch, stole second, and came home on Saltamacchia’s RBI single. Masterson managed to get out of the inning after that, but he left the mound for the last time with the Tribe down 6-1.
But Boston wasn’t done. The Red Sox lit up Dan Wheeler in the seventh inning—Ortiz, Gonzalez and Nava all came up with big hits before Saltamacchia’s home run capped a six-run rally. Boston’s bullpen shut down the Tribe’s lineup in the late innings as the Red Sox handed Cleveland a 12-1 loss.
The Good: It was a bad day for the lineup, but not for Michael Brantley. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles on a day when no one else could do much offensively. Jason Kipnis also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
Also, rough as Masterson looked Sunday, he did a good job of limiting the damage after he got off of the wrong foot. He held the Red Sox to just two runs on three hits from the second inning through the sixth. Also, Jairo Asencio had maybe his best outing of the year, striking out both Nick Punto and Kelly Shoppach in a perfect eighth inning.
The Bad: The game score speaks for itself. Masterson continues to look incredibly hittable and he seems to be completely incapable of making his pitch when he gets in a jam. The one bright spot of his line for the game was that he allowed only one walk, but that doesn’t include the three batters he hit. It was an awful day for Dan Wheeler as well, and he was designated for assignment after the game.
That the Indians could not score was another big disappointment. Daniel Bard has great stuff but he definitely wasn’t at his best Sunday, as evidenced by his four walks against just two strikeouts. A pitcher who gives up a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded (as Bard did to Cabrera in the third) is ripe for shelling, but Cleveland couldn’t take advantage of his lack of command.
The “Huh?”: The saga of Johnny Damon’s questionable placement in the leadoff spot continues. After Sunday Damon is hitting .159/.196/.227, good for a wRC+ of 12. He has just two walks and only two extra-base hits in 11 games.
Why is he continuing to start while Shelley Duncan is stuck on the bench? And if Damon is going to play, why are we giving him the most plate appearances in the lineup when he has yet to show anything offensively this year?
Interesting Tidbit: Before Sunday, Justin Masterson had absolutely dominated the Red Sox in his career: he’d gone 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA and an 0.87 WHIP in four starts against his former employers.