The Red Sox went to town against the Tribe pitching staff and Jon Lester threw a gem Sunday afternoon as Boston throttled Cleveland, 14-1, to split the four-game series. The loss drops the Indians to 53-62, 10 games behind the AL Central-leading White Sox.
The Sox jumped out of the gate pretty quickly. After Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a groundout, Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia connected off Corey Kluber for back-to-back doubles to put Boston ahead. Three pitches later, Adrian Gonzalez took Kluber deep for a two-run homer to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.
The Indians responded in the bottom of the first. Jason Donald and Asdrubal Cabrera led off with back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Carlos Santana‘s sacrifice fly brought Donald home to put the Tribe on the board.
But the Red Sox kept on hammering. Mike Aviles and Ellsbury set the table with base hits in the top of the second for Carl Crawford’s two-out two-run double. Then, in the fourth, Aviles got hit by a pitch and stole second; former Indian Kelly Shoppach delivered with an RBI single to put the Sox up 6-1 and knock Kluber out of the game.
But Boston really got going in the top of the fifth. Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia came through with RBI singles before Josh Tomlin got the first out, and Danny Valencia followed with a sacrifice fly. Ellsbury and Crawford hit back-to-back doubles to plate three runs and send Tomlin to the showers. Frank Hermann came in and promptly walked Pedroia before Gonzalez’ rally-capping two-run double. By the time Hermann got Saltalamacchia to fly out to end the inning, the Red Sox had scored eight runs and gotten out to a 14-1 lead.
The game was quiet from there. Lester struck out 12 while allowing only one more hit through six innings while Junichi Tawaza, Clayton Mortensen, and Alfredo Aceves pitched a scoreless final three frames. Meanwhile, Hermann, Cody Allen, and Joe Smith limited the damage from there as the Red Sox held on for a 14-1 getaway day win.
The Good: Carlos Santana went 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. And Hermann, Allen, and Smith did a good job of putting out the fire after the Red Sox went to town against Kluber and Tomlin.
The Bad: What a miserable night it was for the Indians’ pitching staff. The Sox rocked Corey Kluber for six runs (all earned) on seven hits in 3.1 innings. Recently converted reliever Josh Tomlin then gave up seven runs in 1.1 frames as 7 of the 11 batters he faced reached base.
Meanwhile, the Tribe’s offense managed just one run on five hits against Jon Lester and the Boston bullpen while striking out 14 times. You can’t blame a team for failing to score when a pitcher is really on his game, but these kinds of nights seem to be occurring pretty frequently for Cleveland this year.
The “Huh?”: With the game out of reach in the sixth inning, Manny Acta gave Shin-Soo Choo a rest and moved Carlos Santana from first base to left field. There was no harm done in a big blowout and I’m all for encouraging players to be more versatile, but it’s weird to think of Santana playing on the big green.
Interesting Tidbit: Before Sunday, the last time Carlos Santana had played outfield was in 2008, when he played three games in right field for the High-A Inland Empire 66ers in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He hadn’t played left field since 2006.