The Red Sox wrapped up the first leg of their three-city road trip by finishing off a three-game sweep of the Guardians on Sunday night. Boston defeated Cleveland by a final score of 8-3 at Progressive Field to improve to 19-4 in the month of June and 42-31 on the season.
Matched up against Northeastern University’s own Aaron Civale to begin things on Sunday, the Sox threatened in both the first and second innings before finally getting on the board in the top of the third.
Jarren Duran and Rafael Devers reached base via a pair of hard-hit singles to lead off the inning. With runners on first and second and no outs, J.D. Martinez nearly grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Instead, Guardians second baseman committed a throwing error after getting the force out at second. That allowed Duran to score from third and give his side an early 1-0 lead.
An inning later, Franchy Cordero and Christian Vazquez led the fourth off with back-to-back doubles off Civale and switched places by doing so. Duran then moved Vazquez up to third on a two-base hit of his own while Martinez drove him in on an RBI force out.
Fast forward to the sixth, and Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Alex Verdugo all reached with two outs against Guardians reliever Sam Hentges to fill the bases for Trevor Story, who plated two on a softly-hit, bloop single to left field that was just out of the reach of a sprawling Ernie Clement.
To that point in the contest, Rich Hill was in the midst of his 14th start of the season for the Red Sox. After working his way into and out of trouble through the first five innings Sunday, the veteran left-hander got tagged for one run in his sixth and final frame on an RBI groundout off the bat of Oscar Gonzalez.
Hill did retire each of the final three batters he faced and wound up allowing just the one run on five hits and four walks to go along with five strikeouts over six strong innings of work. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with a final pitch count of 83 (51 strikes) and induced five of his eight swings-and-misses with his curveball, a pitch he threw 38 times. His ERA on the season now sits at 4.09.
Shortly after Hill’s day came to a close, Boston and Cleveland traded runs in the seventh inning. Devers pushed across Vazquez on a 105.8 mph RBI single in the top half, then committed a throwing error in the bottom half that ultimately allowed Ernie Clement to score off Ryan Brasier.
In relief of Brasier, Hansel Robles got the next call out of the Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Making his first appearance since June 18, Robles yielded a leadoff double to Jose Ramirez that was followed by a two-out run-scoring single from Jimenez.
Taking a 6-3 lead into the ninth, the Red Sox proceeded to break it open. A one-out walk drawn by Jackie Bradley Jr. and two-out single from Devers put runners at first and second for Martinez. Martinez scored Bradley Jr. and allowed Devers to advance to third on a 334-foot double off Tanner Tully. Devers then scored from third on a wild pitch that put Boston ahead by five runs at 8-3.
Tanner Houck was used for the third time in this series and closed it out in 1-2-3 fashion to extend Boston’s winning streak to seven consecutive games.
In Sunday’s win, Duran went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored, Devers went 3-for-5 with an RBI, a run scored, and a walk, Martinez went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs, one run scored, and one walk, Verdugo went 2-for-3 with three walks, Story went 2-for-6 with a stolen base and the 499th and 500th RBIs of his career, and Vazquez went 2-for-4 with an RBI, two runs scored, and a walk.
Next up: On to Toronto
The Red Sox will head north of the border for the second time this season to take on the 40-32 Blue Jays in a three-game series. Connor Seabold, who just recently joined the team in Cleveland, is expected to make his second career start for Boston. Fellow right-hander Kevin Gausman will take the mound for Toronto.
First pitch from Rogers Centre on Monday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Nick Cammett/Getty Images)