The Red Sox have won a series. No, I am not lying to you. I’ll say it again. The Red Sox have won a series. On the (very) off chance the Red Sox were going to make a real run back into the American League playoff picture they were going to need to have a strong showing in the league against an outstanding Cleveland Indians team. They dropped a tough one on Monday, but came back to win the final two games of the series. The last win on Wednesday afternoon was highlighted by Xander Bogaerts, who hit two homers, and Rafael Devers, who hit a homer and is 8-10 in his last two games. It’s been the Xander and Raffy show all year, and that continued in this one.
Just a couple of days ago, the plan for the Red Sox in this Wednesday series finale in Cleveland was to have Nathan Eovaldi serve as an opener for a couple of innings to begin the game. Then, in a bizarre and tight victory on Tuesday the righty was needed late in that game and the team had to switch paths. So, in his stead they turned to Brian Johnson to serve a similarly short outing, though the southpaw is a bit more stretched out than Eovaldi. Still, given how potent this Indians lineup can be, even without newcomer Yasiel Puig, it was natural to be nervous heading into this one.
However, Johnson came out strong and got through a couple of strong innings to kick things off. The lefty did issue a walk to Carlos Santana in the first, but everyone does that. Santana is one of the best in the league at drawing free passes. That was all he allowed there, though, and then in the second he allowed just a two-out base hit to get through two with no runners advancing beyond first base.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox had some similar trouble against Shane Bieber. The Indians righty, as I mentioned with Clevinger last night, might be a bit overshadowed on this talented Indians roster but he’s starting to get his due with his first All-Star appearance this summer. It was going to be a tough battle for Red Sox hitters in this one. They did get a base hit from Rafael Devers in the first — coming off a 6-6 game the night before — but nothing else. In the second, they got a leadoff single from Andrew Benintendi and later another one from Christian Vázquez. That put men on the corners for Jackie Bradley Jr. in the first real scoring chance for either side on the afternoon, but Bradley struck out and the game stayed scoreless.
That would change in the top half of the third, however, and of course it started with Devers. In a season where we have seen many absurd hot streaks from the young third baseman, the last couple of days has arguably been his most impressive stretch. Having gone 7-7 since the start of Tuesday’s game, Devers stayed hot by blasting a solo shot the other way out to left field. Just like that, it was 1-0 Red Sox. Xander Bogaerts came up next and decided he thought what Devers was doing looked fun and smashed a solo homer of his own. With back-to-back homers Boston had a 2-0 lead midway through the third.
Now, Johnson was back in looking for a shutdown inning but things got a little bit weird. After a quick first out, Francisco Lindor hit a ground ball to Bogaerts at short. The ball required a charge in and Bogaerts didn’t get to settle before making the throw. As a result, the ball made its way past Mitch Moreland at first base and Lindor made his way to second on the error. That brought Oscar Mercado to the plate and he hit a chopper out towards Devers at third base. Devers got caught a bit between the hops and had it go through the wickets. After hitting back-to-back homers, Bogaerts and Devers made back-to-back errors in the following inning and Cleveland suddenly had runners on first and third with just one out.
It only got uglier from there, too. On the very next pitch, Johnson tried to get a curveball by Santana but instead threw it straight into the ground by the hitter’s feet. The ball got by Vázquez and Lindor came around to score on the wild pitch. With that, Cleveland was within one. After a strikeout and a walk to put two on again, Johnson’s day was over and Marcus Walden had to come in to try and keep the lead. He only needed one pitch to do it, inducing an inning-ending ground out.
After that, the offenses went quiet for a few innings. Boston got a pair on in the fourth with just one out, but they couldn’t score as Bieber struck out the other three batters he faced. They followed that up with just a walk in the fifth before going down in order in the sixth.
On the other side, Darwinzon Hernandez came in for Walden in the fourth. The southpaw did hit a batter but he followed that up with a double play and only had to face three batters in the inning. He came back out for the fifth and after getting two outs to start things off he allowed a base hit and a walk. That ended his afternoon and Josh Taylor came on with two on and two out in what was still a one-run ballgame. Taylor got the job done, inducing a routine fly out to end the inning.
The sixth belonged to Eovaldi, who did indeed end up pitching in this game after not getting the start. He looked great, getting an easy 1-2-3 inning.
When the top of the seventh rolled around, the Red Sox offense snapped out of their short funk with Bieber out of the game. Mookie Betts got things started with a double out to left field. With first base open, the Indians decided to intentionally walk Devers. It’s understandable given his aforementioned tear, but it also brought Bogaerts to the plate with two on. He made them pay, as the saying goes, by hitting a three-run shot out to left field. His second homer of the day gave the Red Sox a 5-1 lead.
Now it was just up to the bullpen to not blow this four-run lead. Eovaldi came back out for the seventh and got things off to a good start, allowing just a single in his second scoreless inning of the day. For the eighth they turned to Andrew Cashner, who tossed another scoreless inning out of the bullpen.
With the four-run lead still in hand for the ninth, it was Brandon Workman coming on to try and finish this one and get Tuesday’s bad taste out of his mouth. He didn’t even break a sweat in this one, getting a 1-2-3 inning to finish things off and send the team off for a happy flight back home.
The Red Sox now have a day off as they head back to Fenway for a three-game set this weekend against the Orioles. They’ll be back in action on Friday with Rick Porcello taking the mound against Aaron Brooks. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
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