The Cleveland Indians weathered a rain delay, Mike Freeman, and a shaky bullpen to prevail over the Boston Red Sox, 7-5, with a ninth-inning comeback at Fenway Park. But the roller coaster nature of the game forced me to write and rewrite at least four drafts of the recap.
But I’m still standing. I’m still strong.
Draft #1: Take a seat on the bench, Mike Freeman
In my first attempt at a game recap, I bemoaned a putrid Indians’ lineup that had mustered all of three hits against Red Sox starter David Price, failing to produce any sort of run support for rookie starting pitcher Zach Plesac. And Plesac had pitched well, even managing to work around a 69-minute rain delay in the middle of the second inning. The Tribe rookie finished with four hits, one earned run, one walk, and two strikeouts over 5.1 innings of work.
Plesac was pulled after giving up a triple to Rafael Devers with one out in the sixth inning, at which point Mike Freeman — in the lineup because he is on the 25-man roster and needs to see the field every couple days lest he turn into a pumpkin or something — made himself known. A.J. Cole took the mound for the Indians and promptly gave up an RBI single to Mookie Betts, before surrendering a double to J.D. Martinez to put runners at the second and third with one out.
After a strikeout, Freeman, in what would be the first of many miscues for the 32-year-old utility man, botched a simple grounder from Xander Bogaerts, allowing the Red Sox to stretch their 1-0 lead to what at the time felt like an insurmountable 3-0 advantage.
Draft #2: Well hello there, minimum amount of offense
Then the Indians’ offense made a surprise appearance in the eighth inning. Greg Allen drew a leadoff walk, followed by a Mike Freeman single. Francisco Lindor, doing what Francisco Lindor does, shot a double in the gap in right center field to score two and cut the lead down to 3-2.
Suddenly, the Tribe were within striking distance.
Mike Freeman: “Not so fast.”
Draft #3: Mike Freeman still out there, not making plays
Clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox needed a spark, and it was Mike Freeman who gave it to them. Leading off, Xander Bogaerts drilled a line drive off the Green Monster in left field but Greg Allen played it perfectly and beat Bogaerts to second with the throw. Unfortunately, it was Freeman on the receiving end of that throw and he failed to apply the tag in time despite having ample opportunity to do so.
Bogaerts came around to score two batters late, driven in by a Michael Chavis single. Steve Pearce made it 5-2 that same inning, scoring Chavis with an RBI double.
So much for striking distance.
Draft #4: This is a surprising turn of events
We’ve arrived at the ninth inning. Trailing by three runs, the Indians are three outs away from securing their eighth loss in their last nine games.
It starts with a Roberto Perez solo homer. Then Jake Bauers walks. Greg Allen wraps a two-run shot around the foul pole in right field and suddenly the score is tied.
I am numb at this point.
But we’re not done yet. Mike Freeman is hit by a pitch. Lindor walks. Oscar Mercado drops an ill-advised bunt that a diving Steve Pearce manages to scoop up and fire to third to catch Freeman, who would have been safe had he slid before the last possible second. But then Carlos Santana walks to load the bases with one out.
Before I know it, Jordan Luplow is the hero with a two-run double to give the Indians their first lead of the game. The score is 7-5 and Luplow is standing at the second base, firing his finger guns into the dugout at his teammates. I look to the heavens and pray that this is it, the last turn in what has been an emotional roller coaster of a game. Let me go to bed, God.
Brad Hand tried to make things interesting by walking Betts and allowing a single to Devers with one out, but the Indians’ closer struck out Bogaerts and Martinez to put the finishing touches on a much-needed victory for the Tribe.