Had you told me coming into this series that the Cleveland Indians would take 2-of-3 but lose the game against the Boston Red Sox’s hangover lineup after they clinched the AL East on Thursday, I would’ve said, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
What a series, though, even if it was effectively reduced to an exhibition series thanks to two postseason-bound teams whose playoff slots are all but assured at this point. Three games, two of which were decided by one run — both of them walk-offs in favor of the Tribe.
Can you imagine if these games had mattered? My blood pressure would rather not.
Tonight, Greg Allen was the hero, delivering an RBI single in the eleventh inning to score the go-ahead run with the bases loaded. The Indians’ 4-3 victory over the Red Sox was their fourth this season, giving them the edge in the season series.
Adam Plutko was on the mound for the Indians, making what could be his final start of the season for the Tribe. If that is indeed the case, he was solid to end the season, allowing five hits and three earned runs over six innings pitched. The thorn in his side for those six innings was AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts, who was in the lineup for the first time this series. The Red Sox right fielder was 4-for-6 on the night with a solo home run.
The Indians’ bullpen was the surprising savior of the night, and didn’t need help from Brad Hand, Cody Allen, or Andrew Miller to get it done. Adam Cimber, in particular, was impressive. With the score tied in the ninth inning, he faced the top of the order and struck out Mookie Betts, before retiring Andrew Benintendi on a flyout to center. Tzu-Wei Lin battled back from an 0-2 count to send a double into left field, prompting Cimber to intentionally walk Rafael Devers. Steve Pearce grounded out to Cimber to end the inning.
Even Josh Tomlin got in on the action, pitching two scoreless innings.
Before their eleventh inning rally, the Indians did all of their damage in the fourth, behind an Edwin Encarnacion RBI single and a two-run double from Melky Cabrera. Boston “starter” Hector Velazquez didn’t make it out of the inning, taking credit for two of their three runs.
What was once an August aberration has since become a September slumber for Jose Ramirez, who had another hitless night at the plate. I wish I had the answers as to what has been ailing the Tribe’s former MVP candidate, but hopefully he discovers the cure in the next two weeks.