The Red Sox were three outs away from winning their series against the Indians late Tuesday night. Now, less than 24 hours later, they head to the Bronx for a pivotal four-game set against the division-leading New York Yankees losers of their last two following a 14-9 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday.
Making his second start and fifth overall appearance for Boston in this one was Ryan Weber, who dazzled in rotation debut with six one-run innings against the Toronto Blue Jays last Thursday.
This time around though, the right-hander did not run into the same good fortunes, as he yielded a season-worst seven earned runs on eight hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with just two strikeouts over four innings of work.
The Indians entered the week with one of the worst run-producing offenses in the American League, but you wouldn’t know that based on how aggressive they were to start this one off.
Beginning right away in the first, the Cleveland lineup jumped on Weber, with Oscar Mercado ripping a one-out single for his team’s first and hit and Carlos Santana tripling on a liner to right center to drive in his team’s first run.
A wild pitch that got past Christian Vazquez with Jason Kipnis at the plate allowed Santana to come in and score from third, and the Indians had themselves a two-run lead before even taking the field.
Things would not get any easier for Weber after escaping the first, not with Kevin Plawecki lining an RBI single to plate Jake Bauers in the second and Bauers and Greg Allen driving in a total of three runs on an RBI single and RBI triple in consecutive order in the third to put the Indians ahead 6-3.
In what would turn out to be his final frame of work in the fourth, Weber nearly retired the side in order, but not before serving up a two-out, solo shot to Santana, which gave Cleveland a four-run edge.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (50 strikes), the 28-year-old turned to his curveball more than 52% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing the only four swings and misses he got all night with the pitch. He also topped out 89.9 MPH with his changeup, a pitch he threw 10 times.
Falling to 1-1 while seeing his ERA on the season inflate to 4.50, it’s unclear whether or not Weber will remain in Boston’s rotation, but assuming he does, his next start would come sometime next week against the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City.
In relief of Weber, as the title mentions, the Red Sox bullpen did not fare much better than Wednesday’s starter did.
Josh Taylor, a 26-year-old left hander who was promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier Wednesday, allowed one run on two hits and one punchout in the fifth in what was his major league debut.
Colten Brewer, also recalled from Pawtucker on Wednesday, surrendered a pair of Cleveland runs on a two-RBI double off the bat of Jose Ramirez in the sixth.
Hector Velazquez came on in the seventh with his team trailing by an in-range four runs, and by the time he retired the side in the eighth, that deficit had doubled thanks to an RBI single from Lindor and three-RBI double from Santana, both of which were hit in the seventh.
So, actually, Velazquez was one of the only two Red Sox pitchers all night to hold the Indians scoreless over an inning, with that inning being the eighth.
That other pitcher? Heath Hembree. Arguably the best reliever used by Sox manager Alex Cora, or at least the one with the most big league experience, maneuvered his way around two singles in an otherwise clean ninth inning to close out what was a miserable night for Boston on the mound.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Shane Bieber for Cleveland, who entered Wednesday with just one career start at Fenway Park under his belt.
Falling behind by two runs before even reaching the midway point of the first inning, Mookie Betts got the scoring started for Boston right away in their half of the first, tattooing a one-out, 407 foot solo home run off of Bieber over the Monster to cut his team’s early deficit in half. Betts’ ninth of the season.
In the second, after falling behind by two runs once again, a pair of RBI doubles from Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi, with Holt’s coming with no outs and Benintendi’s coming with two, pulled the Red Sox back even with the Tribe at three runs a piece.
That tie would not last long though, as Cleveland pushed across three additional runs in their half of the third as well as one more in the fourth to make it a 7-3 game.
Staying in that fourth inning, the Sox bats answered back with three runs of their own, all coming with two outs on a solo jack off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr., his fourth, and a two-run johnson off the bat of Benintendi, his sixth that also scored Christian Vazquez and trimmed Cleveland’s lead down to one run.
A 7-6 contest heading into the middle innings, the Indians eventually pulled away from the Red Sox by plating a total of seven runs through the middle of the seventh, and they would not have to look back.
In the eighth, facing off against Indians reliever AJ Cole, Xander Bogaerts attempted to breathe some life into a potential comeback attempt by blasting his 10th big fly of the year, a two-run shot to score himself as well as JD Martinez.
Two batters and one Jackie Bradley Jr. double later, Vazquez continued to make things somewhat interesting by driving in the man from second on his 20th run driven in of the season to cut Cleveland’s advantage to five runs.
And finally in the ninth, after Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and Bogaerts loaded the bases with one out in the inning, the Red Sox bats could muster no more against Indians closer Brad Hand, with Eduardo Nunez pinch-hitting for Holt and popping out to third, and Michael Chavis grounding into a game-inning forceout at third base to wrap this one up at 14-9.
Some notes from this loss:
From Red Sox Stats:
Rafael Devers extended his hitting streak to nine games with a ninth inning single Wednesday.
Since the start of their last road trip, Jackie Bradley Jr. has raised his batting average from .144 to .185 in his last 10 games played. Wednesday marked his first three-hit game of the season, too.
Xander Bogaerts in May: .317/.405/.564. six home runs, 21 RBI in 24 games played.
The Red Sox are 2-4 in their last six games and currently sit 7.5 games back of first place in the American League East behind the New York Yankees, the team they will be playing next.
Last time the two rivals met up, the Yankees took both games at Yankee Stadium in their only matchup of 2019 thus far.
It’s only May 30th as this is being typed, but these next four-games could tip the scales in the race for the division crown. To say this weekend is important would be an understatement. Hostile territory. A whole lot on the line. This is when Red Sox-Yankees baseball thrives.
Left-hander Chris Sale will get the ball for Boston in the opener, while fellow southpaw JA Happ will do the same for New York.
Sale (1-6, 4.19 ERA), also pitched in that first series in New York, where he surrendered four runs over five innings in a losing effort back on April 16th.
Since then, the Florida native has posted a 2.44 ERA and .158 batting average against over his last seven starts, although the Red Sox are only 3-4 in those games.
Happ, meanwhile is currently in the middle of his first full season with the Yankees, where he is 4-3 with a 5.09 ERA through 11 starts thus far.
Like Sale, Happ also worked in that two-game series back in April, an outing in which he allowed three runs over 6.1 innings in a contest New York eventually came away with.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to make up some ground in the division.