Defensive miscues, poor weather and an abnormally rough day for the Indians’ bullpen combined to cause Saturday’s 7-4 loss at Fenway Park. Scott Kazmir pitched better than he had in either of his previous two starts, but it still was not enough to secure a win for the Tribe against the Boston Red Sox.
Cleveland started off the game by taking an early 1-0 lead against the Sox in the first inning, when Nick Swisher hit an RBI double to left field to score Asdrubal Cabrera. It wasn’t long until Boston answered back with a run of their own. Shortstop Jose Iglesias reached on an infield single in the second inning before advancing on a balk, and Pedro Ciriaco laced a ball to right field for an RBI single that quickly tied the game. Iglesias and Ciriaco were a constant source of trouble for the Tribe on Saturday, finishing the game with three hits each.
The Indians scored two more runs in the third inning, thanks to an RBI double by Cabrera and an RBI single to center field from Carlos Santana. Kazmir gave up another run in the fourth, when Iglesias hit a double to right field that was misplayed by Ryan Raburn, but overall allowed just 2 runs in five innings while striking out six batters. He exited the game with a one-run lead.
The Tribe bullpen was not as effective as usual, but the team’s defense is partially to blame for that. When Bryan Shaw took over in the fifth inning, he gave up two singles before Mark Reynolds made a throwing error that allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Jonny Gomes later hit a sacrifice fly to center field and tied the game up for a second time.
In the seventh, Mike Aviles scored on a wild pitch from Lester to give the Indians a 4-3 lead. Joe Smith struck out two and walked one in his inning of work, and then Vinnie Pestano took the ball in the eighth. After back-to-back two-out RBI doubles from Mike Carp and Dustin Pedroia, Pestano issued two walks – one intentional and one accidental – then got a pop-up that should have ended the inning with just a one-run lead for the Red Sox. Instead, Cabrera and Michael Brantley both misjudged the location of the ball and it dropped between them, allowing two more runs to score.
Pestano was charged with the loss, and the Indians are now 6-4 in their last ten games.
Cabrera had three hits and two stolen bases, raising his average to .263. He’s starting to be more consistent than he was at the beginning of the season. Brantley had another two-hit game and is quietly batting .316. It may be time for fans to start paying a little more attention to him.
It’s hard to say how much the windy conditions affected the outcome of Pestano’s outing, but his velocity was also down, which is not a good sign. The Indians need him in the back end of their bullpen, both now and as their future closer. Also, the pitching staff as a whole issued eight walks, including four by Kazmir. Walks were a big part of the problem last season and that’s far too many, even considering that two of them were intentional.