The Cleveland Indians erased a 6-1 deficit — tagging Chris Sale for five runs before plating the game-tying run in the ninth inning — but in the end the Tribe came up short against the Boston Red Sox, 7-6, in extra innings. Jackie Bradley Jr. deposited a meatball of a changeup into the right field seats in the tenth inning to regain the lead for good.
Sale was nearly untouchable for the first five innings of the game, surrendering a solo home run to Carlos Santana in the fourth and notching double-digit strikeouts. Trailing 6-1, the Indians started chipping away in the sixth inning, starting with a two-run shot by Franmil Reyes.
In the seventh, Roberto Perez walked and Greg Allen was able to reach base on a grounder that took a bad (or good?) hop past the glove of Rafael Devers at third base, putting runners at second and third with one out. Tyler Naquin popped out to first, leaving the Indians’ last best hope in the hands of Francisco Lindor. With two outs, Lindor feasted on a changeup in the bottom of the zone, lining a double past Devers and plating two runs to knock Sale out of the game and cut the Red Sox lead to 6-5. Just Lindor doing Lindor things, in other words.
The Tribe had a chance to erase the Red Sox’s lead altogether after Oscar Mercado was able to leg out an infield single with Matt Barnes on the mound in relief of Sale, putting runners at the corners with two outs. Alas, Carlos Santana proved human after all, striking out to end the inning.
But Lindor wasn’t finished. Enter the ninth inning: Greg Allen singles to right field and proceeds to steal second with no outs. Naquin struck out swinging, bringing — you guessed it — Francisco Lindor to the plate again with a runner in scoring position. And what did Lindor do? Lindor things. He sent a double into the gap in left center field, scoring Allen to tie the game.
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Unfortunately, Lindor followed that up by making an ill-advised attempt to steal third with one out. He was ruled out by replay review, effectively killing their momentum and sending the game to extras once Oscar Mercado flew out to right field.
Even after Nick Wittgren surrendered the lead in the tenth inning, Carlos Santana led off the bottom half of the inning with a single. Naturally, Terry Francona called for Mike Freeman to bunt but the Red Sox were ready for it and threw out Santana at second to render the sacrifice null. José Ramírez and Roberto Perez both struck out to end the game.
Mike Clevinger was not sharp. He allowed a leadoff triple to Mookie Betts to open the game in an at-bat that foreshadowed the struggles ahead for the Indians’ starter. Clevinger had two strikes on Betts when the Red Sox right fielder skyrocketed a hanging slider into the wall in left center field. Clevinger had two strikes on 17 batters over the course of the game, and nine of them reached base. He couldn’t seem to put anyone away, laboring through five innings of work.
But for as much as Boston batters made Clevinger sweat (more than usual), he only allowed four runs to cross the plate. Rafael Devers followed Betts’ leadoff triple with an RBI double to put the Red Sox ahead 1-0 in the first. Then in the second inning Betts sent a blooper into left field with two outs to score Marco Hernandez from second base. The seams started to burst in the fifth, with the Red Sox roping a double and a pair of singles to plate a third run for Boston and put runners at the corners with two outs. Hernandez proceeded to send Clevinger to the showers by lining an RBI single to left field, scoring J.D. Martinez from third.
Josh Smith took the mound and ended the fifth inning with a groundout. The sixth was a bit of a different story. Smith promptly hit Jackie Bradley Jr. and walked Mookie Betts before surrendering a two-run double to Devers, extending the Indians’ deficit to 6-1. He recovered to pitch a scoreless seventh, but the damage was done. Adam Cimber and Tyler Clippard held serve in the eighth and ninth, setting the stage for the late game rally.
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