For the first time since April, the Red Sox have lost three consecutive games. Everybody panic!
Yes, the team with the best record in all of baseball has hit a bit of a skid recently, so let’s get right into where things went wrong on Tuesday night.
Making his fifth start with the Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi entered the night with a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings pitched at Fenway Park this season.
Pitching into the sixth inning of this one, the right-hander seemingly breezed through the first three frames of this one, but the fourth was where things turned out for the worst.
All coming with two outs, the Indians reached base four straight times off of Eovaldi on three singles and a double, which plated their first two runs of the evening.
After working his way around a leadoff double in a scoreless fifth, Cleveland struck again right away in the sixth on a solo home run off the bat of Melky Cabrera, his second in as many nights.
One out and two straight singles from Yan Gomes and Greg Allen singles later, Eovaldi’s night would come to a disappointing end.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (63 strikes), the Texas native surrendered ten hits for the second time in his last three outings to tie a season-high. He also walked one and only recorded two strikeouts.
Out of those 87 pitches, Eovaldi relied on his fastball, both cut and four-seam, a combined 69% of the time on Tuesday while topping out at 100.1 MPH with that four-seamer in the first inning.
Since he got his Red Sox career off to a blazing start with those two stellar outings against the Twins and Yankees in late July and early August, Eovaldi has certainly come back to earth over the past two weeks. It will be interesting to see how he responds in his next time out against his old team this weekend in St. Petersburg.
In relief of Eovaldi, Joe Kelly entered the sixth with runners on first and second and closed the book on the 28-year-old’s night by giving up an RBI single to Michael Brantley that could have been a double had Sandy Leon not thrown him out at second to end the inning.
From that point on, Brandon Workman gave up a run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth and Tyler Thornburg, albeit it came on a quality pitch, served up a solo home run to Indians catcher Yan Gomes, minutes after the Red Sox had scored three runs of their own, to make it a 6-3 game heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Finally, despite walking one and giving up one base hit, Drew Pomeranz had himslef a scoreless ninth inning to give his team one last chance to rally in the bottom half of the frame, although it did not amount to much.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a starter they had never seen before in Cleveland’s Shane Bieber.
Bieber, 23 and a right-hander, is in his first season with the Indians and as you may have already guessed, had never pitched at Fenway Park before last night.
Despite that fact though, the former fourth round pick out of UC Santa Barbara had his way with Boston through the first six innings of this one.
In fact, it wasn’t until the fourth inning when Andrew Benintendi ripped a one out single to break up the no-hitter Bieber had going.
Fast forward to the seventh, with no outs and runners at first and third, Xander Bogaerts came through with an RBI double down the line in left to cut into the Indians lead and put his team’s first run of the night on the board.
One batter later, a Mitch Moreland sacrifice fly that could have been so much more had it not been for this great catch by Greg Allen drove in JD Martinez from third to cut Boston’s deficit to three.
That would be how Bieber’s night would come to a conclusion, but the Red Sox were not done scoring. Not until Xander Bogaerts came into score on a Ian Kinsler RBI groundout, anyway.
With the score of this one at 5-3 going into the eighth, it’s probably worth mentioning that the aforementioned home run from Yan Gomes off of Tyler Thornburg may have been the final nail in the coffin, as it upped the Indians lead back to three.
Anyway, old friend Andrew Miller sat down all three batters he faced in order in the eighth, and ex-Padres closer Brad Hand maneuvered his way around an E4 to notch his 29th save of the season in the ninth and final frame.
Some notes from this 6-3 loss:
Over the span of this three-game losing streak, the Red Sox have scored seven total runs. That is not ideal. All while the Yankees have won their last four games, also not ideal.
That Mitch Moreland sacrifice fly had a hit probability of 91%. According to Statcast, it was the only batted ball that had a hit probability north of 90%, yet it was caught.
I must admit, losing two straight games to one of the better teams in the American League is far from encouraging, but the Red Sox have been here before. Go back to that four-game series against the Astros in Houston back in June.
They dropped the first two games while not looking all that great, yet they bounced back and left with a series split that Sunday night. That’s what needs to happen now over these next two days.
Brian Johnson gets the nod in the third game of the series with Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco toeing the rubber opposite him.
While Johnson has never faced off against Cleveland in his young career, Carrasco has had his fair share of difficulties in his matchups against the Red Sox.
Over a span of seven career appearances (five starts) against Boston, the Venezuela native owns a 6.83 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in 27.2 innings pitched, 14 of which of come at Fenway Park.
First pitch of the third game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Wednesday. Time to put this losing streak to a halt.