The Boston Red Sox hadn’t dropped three consecutive games since April 24, but the Cleveland Indians delivered the BoSox’s second three-game losing streak of the season behind a strong outing from starting pitcher Shane Bieber in a 6-3 victory at Fenway.
While Bieber was able to keep the Red Sox’s vaunted lineup in check for most of the night, it was the Indians’ offense that came to play, tallying 13 hits compared to Boston’s 5.
The Red Sox will remember the name Shane Bieber
I try to avoid hyperbole as much as possible, but I’m not sure I can overstate the sheer awe of watching a rookie starting pitcher carve up the best lineup in baseball. Because Bieber did exactly that for six innings, allowing three hits and recording five strikeouts.
Then came the seventh inning, when trouble reared its ugly head.
The Red Sox took a more aggressive approach against Bieber the third time through the lineup, with great success. In the span of four pitches, Andrew Benintendi doubled down the first base line, J.D. Martinez singled to left field, and Xander Bogaerts sent a sharp liner down the third base line that ended up an RBI double after Lindor slipped while fielding it off a ricochet.
It could have been much worse if not for Greg Allen.
With runners on second and third, no outs, and the Indians’ 5-1 lead on the verge of shrinking before our eyes, Mitch Moreland blasted a moonshot to straight away center field, where Allen made a ridiculous over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track to reduce it to a sac fly and keep Bogaerts from advancing past third base.
Adam Cimber came in to cool things down, but did allow an RBI groundout to Ian Kinsler, cutting the Tribe’s lead to 5-3 after seven innings.
Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out two and appearing as close to the dominant Andrew Miller we all know and love as we’ve seen since he returned from the DL. Brad Hand took the mound in the ninth inning and closed it down for the save, in spite of a Jason Kipnis error about which the less said, the better.
The bottom of the order put the Tribe on top
With two outs in the fourth inning, Melky Cabrera sent a sharp grounder through the right side of the infield for a single, continuing his success at the plate against the Red Sox. Jason Kipnis followed suit, advancing Cabrera to third and putting runners at the corners. Evoaldi tried to paint the corner with a cut fastball but it caught too much of the strike zone and Yan Gomes dropped a single into center field, scoring Cabrera to take the lead.
With Kipnis at second and Gomes at first, Greg Allen came to the plate and was greeted with a cut fastball right down the middle, which he promptly sent into the corner in left field for a double to bring home Kipnis and give the Tribe a 2-0 lead.
Cabrera homered in the sixth inning — his second solo shot in as many games — to extend it to 3-0. As I mentioned earlier, the Melk Man has felt right at home in Fenway Park, hitting a combined 5-for-7 with two home runs in these two games.
A whole lot of nothing from Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez
The Indians’ two AL MVP candidates continued to struggle while the rest of the lineup picked up the slack. Through the first two games of this series, Lindor and Ramirez are a combined 1-for-16 with two strikeouts and two walks. Ramirez, in particular, seems to be trying to do too much.
Fortunately, whatever is ailing Lindor and Ramirez has not affected the man sandwiched between them in the lineup: Michael Brantley. The Tribe’s left fielder was 2-for-4 tonight with a walk, including an RBI single in the sixth inning to make it 4-0 (although he was ruled out trying to advance to second after a very questionable replay call).
Ramirez did help manufacture a run in in the seventh, drawing a leadoff walk before stealing second base. He advanced to third on a Yandy Diaz groundout and then scored on a Yonder Alonso sac fly into the far corner in right field for a 5-0 lead.
Yan Gomes homered over the Green Monster in the eighth to make it 6-3 and give the Tribe some more breathing room after the Red Sox’s rally in the seventh inning.