The Red Sox salvaged a series split with the Guardians at Fenway Park on Thursday night. Boston defeated Cleveland by a final score of 4-2 to improve to an even 50-50 on the season.
Kutter Crawford, making his sixth start of the season for the Sox, was solid yet again. The rookie right-hander allowed just one earned run on three hits and zero walks to go along with two strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work.
The lone run Crawford gave up came in the top half of the fourth. With one out in the inning, Jose Ramirez belted a 413-foot solo shot down the right field line that managed to stay to the left of Pesky’s Pole and in fair territory. The play was reviewed, but the call was upheld and the Guardians had themselves a 1-0 lead.
Besides that one blip, though, Crawford rebounded by retiring seven of the final nine batters he faced. He was pulled with two outs in the fifth inning as the left-handed hitting Josh Naylor was due to hit next for Cleveland.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 69 (49 strikes), Crawford induced a total of eight swings-and-misses while topping out at 95.7 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 23 times. Although the 26-year-old did not factor into Thursday’s decision, he did lower his ERA on the season to 4.15.
In relief of Crawford, Jake Diekman received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The veteran left-hander did what he was called upon to do by getting Naylor to ground out to end the inning.
To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been completely held in check by Guardians starter Triston McKenzie, who did not give up his first hit until the fourth and took a shutout bid into the sixth.
After Jarren Duran switched places with Jeter Downs while recording the first out of the inning, Alex Verdugo moved the speedster up to second base with a line-drive single. Xander Bogaerts followed by taking a hanging 0-2 slider from McKenzie and crushing it 412 feet over the Green Monster for a go-ahead three-run blast.
Bogaerts’ eighth home run of the season left his bat at 105 mph. It also gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 3-1. Bobby Dalbec provided some insurance in the seventh by plating Franchy Cordero on a 103 mph RBI single to left field.
Following a scoreless seventh inning from Diekman in which he struck out two of the three Guardians he faced, Garrett Whitlock came on with the hopes of recording a six-out save.
Whitlock, working on two days of rest, yielded one run on one hit and one walk in the eighth. As the rain began to fall harder in the ninth, the righty maneuvered his way around a Naylor double to slam the door on the Guardians and pick up his third save of the year.
Next up: Bring on the Brewers
Exactly 100 games into the 2022 season, the Red Sox are a .500 team. They will next welcome the Milwaukee Brewers into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park. The Brewers last visited Fenway in April 2014.
In Friday’s series opener, it will be rookie right-hander Brayan Bello getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Brandon Woodruff doing the same for Milwaukee.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)