Postgame, Indians 1-0: For five games the Red Sox hoped that their starting pitcher would give them a lift. For five games they didn’t get much.
Finally, on a day in which Jon Lester throws seven scoreless innings, they still find a way to lose, giving up a suicide squeeze in a difficult eighth and then kissing away any chance for a rally in the ninth with a bad mistake on the base paths.
Kevin Youkilis did a pretty nice job of summing it up:
“It’s one of those things where we’re frustrated as hell because we never thought we’d be here. But we are here so you gotta deal with it.”
And deal with it they will. The schedule doesn’t let up with the New York Yankees coming to town for the home opener on Friday at 2:05 p.m.
We will be at Fenway bright and early to bring you all the sights, sounds, news and notes, so log in early and follow all the action right here.
Final, Indians 1-0: The Red Sox are inventing new ways to lose, it seems.
On a day when Jon Lester gives them everything they would need, four Indians pitchers keep Boston off the board and a squeeze play in the bottom of the eighth is the difference. So, too, is a base running mistake by Darnell McDonald in the ninth that almost defies explanation.
The 0-6 start is the worst since 1945, when many of the regulars were still away for WWII.
If you didn’t see how it ended, here is a quick summation. David Ortiz drew a two-out walk in the top of the ninth. McDonald went in to run for him and dashed for second when J.D. Drew’s comebacker caromed to third baseman Adam Everett.
McDonald rounded second too far, slipped trying to get back, and Everett threw to the bag to get him diving back in.
We’ll get some reaction from a downright disastrous road trip and get right back to you.
End 8th, Indians 1-0: The fact that the Red Sox trail is not entirely on Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but if he doesn’t get it together with his throws teams are going to run wild on him.
After a leadoff walk to the weak-hitting Adam Everett (not what Terry Francona wanted to see from Daniel Bard, who looks shaky), Everett eventually steals second with Salty’s throw sailing way over the head of Marco Scutaro.
Everett couldn’t advance on the overthrow, but he moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt and then came home on a perfect squeeze bunt by Asdrubal Cabrera.
You figured it might take some small ball like that to get a run on the board in this one, but Saltalamacchia and Bard did not do the Red Sox any favors with their respective lack of accuracy.
One wonders if Kevin Youkilis had let the bunt go if it would’ve gone foul. Hard to say. Anyway, the Sox are three outs from 0-6.
Mid 8th, 0-0: This is where this Red Sox offense could be vulnerable. If the opposing bullpen has a solid lefty, they can get shut down late in games.
With two on and one out, Indians manager Manny Acta turns to Rafael Perez, a tough left-hander, to face Carl Crawford.
After he grounded weakly to third, Crawford fell to 0-for-8 in his career vs. Perez. Similar scenarios will play out with other left-handed hitters (Drew, Ortiz, etc.) who can get outmatched by southpaws.
The Sox still had a chance to get on the board, but Dustin Pedroia (also a slightly better hitter against right-handers in his career, in case you didn’t know) lost a long battle with Perez by grounding back to the mound.
Daniel Bard is on in relief of Jon Lester, who yielded three hits and struck out nine in seven scoreless.
2:15 p.m.: Chad Durbin faces three Red Sox hitters. Two of them reach.
After a Marco Scutaro single and a Jacoby Ellsbury walk, Durbin’s day is done. Pitching change in Cleveland with the Red Sox threatening for the first time since the third inning.
End 7th, 0-0: So much talk about whether Jarrod Saltalamacchia is on the same page with his pitchers, and vice versa. Well, he’s catching a three-hit shutout and just made an outstanding play on a bunt that got popped up behind the plate.
Shelley Duncan led off the seventh with a double, the first extra-base hit of the afternoon. It was a no-brainer that Austin Kearns would bunt, but one of his attempts sent a tiny flare behind the plate. Saltalamacchia ripped off the mask, turned and dove to make the play.
A grounder to third and another to second got Jon Lester out of the inning.
Chad Durbin has replaced Fausto Carmona, who was tremendous. Daniel Bard was up and warming for Boston. Lester’s pitch count is 109.
Mid 7th, 0-0: Should I just alert you when someone scores? If so, the blog might be pretty quiet for the rest of the afternoon.
There hasn’t been a hit since Marco Scutaro’s infield single in the fifth. Neither team has had a runner get into scoring position since Cleveland had men on the corners in the third.
Jon Lester and Fausto Carmona have combined to retire 12 in a row.
End 6th, 0-0: This is what you’ve wanted to see from a Red Sox starter. Of course, with the way things have gone for this team so far, they have a total of four base runners in support of Jon Lester. Figures, right?
Lester has nine strikeouts through six. He seems to be getting stronger as this one goes on and will get every opportunity to get through the seventh. His pitch count is 99.
Mid 6th, 0-0: Who blinks first? It’s a great duel between Jon Lester and Fausto Carmona, who is through six having thrown 97 pitches.
The pens will carry us to the finish line, but both starters have performed very well.
End 5th, 0-0: Jon Lester issues his third walk in the last two innings to begin the bottom of the fifth. He is able to bounce back and retire the next three in order, recording his seventh strikeout to finish things off.
Lester’s pitch count is at 88. With the way this bullpen has been used, the Sox would love to get two more innings out of him.
Mid 5th, 0-0: Marco Scutaro now has two hits on the season in 16 at-bats. Neither of them left the infield.
Scutaro gets on with two outs on a chopper up the middle, just beating the throw to first. Jacoby Ellsbury swings at the very next pitch and gets robbed of a hit by a diving Matt LaPorta at first. Fausto Carmona through five scoreless.
On a personal note, I picked up Carmona on my fantasy team to start the year after two of my guys were placed on the DL. I dropped him after he gave up 10 runs in three innings vs. Chicago.
If you’re a fantasy baseball player, you can imagine some of colorful words floating around in my head right now.
End 4th, 0-0: De-fense (clap, clap). De-fense (clap, clap). It was the leather of Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia that helped the Red Sox and Jon Lester get through the fourth inning unscathed.
Gonzalez made a nice stab for the first out of the fourth, flipping to Lester covering. After Lester lost Carlos Santana for his first walk of the game, Santana was thrown out trying to steal second base, and Pedroia gets the credit.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s throw down bounced about 10 feet before the bag and somewhat to the first-base side. Pedroia picked it one a hop and tagged Santana in one motion.
Salty’s throws continue to be very erratic. This goes back to the start of spring training. Well, we know he had significant throwing issues before he even came to the Red Sox, but now he just has a general inconsistency in that department.
Lester issued another walk to Shelley Duncan and went to 3-2 on Austin Kearns before striking him out to escape. The lefty’s pitch count is up to 71.
Mid 4th, 0-0: Kevin Youkilis, still wincing from whatever he did to his left hand in the bottom of the third, is a strikeout victim in the fourth. We will see if this impacts Youkilis going forward.
David Ortiz follows with a strikeout of his own and barks a bit at home plate umpire Jerry Meals. He might’ve had a case there.
Fausto Carmona has retired five in a row and the Red Sox have just one hit.
End 3rd, 0-0: Maybe it’s because the glass is half-empty right now, but there was this sense that after another defensive miscue by the Red Sox in third, the Indians would capitalize.
Give Jon Lester credit for preventing that from happening. He picks up his fourth strikeout on a breaking ball that Asdrubal Cabrera swung through, stranding runners at the corners.
The play in question came with one out and runners on first and second. A smash to third was knocked down on one hop by Kevin Youkilis, who went to second for the force. Dustin Pedroia wanted to go back to Youkilis to get Travis Buck breaking for third. However, Buck was too far down the path by the time the throw came and Youkilis had to try to catch the ball while chasing down Buck.
The ball bounced off Youk’s glove and rolled away. He also got up showing some pain in what looked like his left hand, but seemed to be OK. Anyway, it doesn’t hurt the Sox, but it simply served as another case of sloppiness.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: When you’re 0-5 and struggling in multiple areas of the game, it hurts even more when a bad call goes against you.
Such was the case in the top of the third inning. With two on and one out, Carl Crawford hit a grounder to first baseman Matt LaPorta, whose throw to second was wide and pulled Asdrubal Cabrera off the bag.
Second base umpire Dan Iassogna ruled, incorrectly I might add, that Cabrera got back to tag Jacoby Ellsbury on the leg. It was the second out of the inning. If the right call was made, the Red Sox would’ve had bases loaded and one out and Dustin Pedroia’s subsequent drive to center would’ve scored a run.
Instead, it was just the final out, and Boston can add two more to the LOB column.
End 2nd, 0-0: The velocity was up just a tick, the off-speed stuff continued to look pretty good and the location remained solid for Jon Lester in the second.
After failing to get a strikeout for just the second time in his career last time out, Lester has three Ks already in this one.
The ever-deadly cutter got Shelley Duncan looking for the second out of the second.
The third out was notable for one reason. Lester got to a 3-2 count on Austin Kearns. He has said over and over how upset he was that he would lose a guy in that situation last year. He’d figure that with two outs the inning was just about over, he’d lose concentration or focus and issue a free pass.
This time, he gets Kearns on a soft grounder to short, also on a cutter. Three Ks and three outs recorded on the ground so far for Lester.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: A leadoff walk to Adrian Gonzalez goes nowhere for the Red Sox. The fog has lifted a bit, so we won’t see anything like this.
David Ortiz was knocked onto his backside by a Fausto Carmona fastball in the inning. I’m not trying to be one of those instigators, but it wouldn’t shock me to see some pitches made with intent today, and perhaps a little chippiness.
Not only is there recent history of bench-clearing incidents between these two teams, but the Red Sox have to be a pretty frustrated team and their pitchers have been smacked around quite a bit. Also, Shelley Duncan is in the Cleveland lineup, so that’s usually good for a brawl or two.
End 1st, 0-0: There was some talk after Jon Lester’s season debut that his velocity was not up to snuff.
Some of that stuff is tough to analyze as gun readings can vary and a guy’s velocity can fluctuate from start to start and inning to inning. Doesn’t always mean much.
That said, Lester didn’t show a ton of power behind the fastballs he threw in the first, topping out at 91.
On the plus side, the breaking ball was tremendous. Orlando Cabrera grounded weakly to shortstop on a tough sinker, Asdrubal Cabrera was a strikeout victim on a pretty curve and Shin-Soo Choo on another. The off-speed stuff looked fantastic.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Jacoby Ellsbury’s slide continues. He is now 0-for-15 since his two-run homer in Texas on Saturday after grounding out to begin the game.
Carl Crawford followed with the same result and Dustin Pedroia was a strikeout victim. Quick and easy for Fausto Carmona.
12:05 p.m.: It’s cold and foggy in Cleveland and we have just begun.
If you think the Red Sox had some rough debuts for its starters, consider what Fausto Carmona went through. The Indians’ Opening Day starter gave up 10 runs — all earned — on 11 hits in just three innings against Chicago.
He was booed off the mound by the fans at Progressive Field, which is just crazy to think about considering the scarce crowds we’ve seen this week. Of course, it was Opening Day so the stands were full, but just the thought of the Indians crowd having much of an impact is a bit foreign right now.
11:38 a.m.: We are seeing a lot of comparisons made between the 1996 team and this one, due to their pairing 0-5 starts.
That ’96 team, however, didn’t wake up until April was nearly over. It was 6-19 on April 28 after dropping three in a row at home to Kansas City.
If Boston goes 6-14 to match that start, you can greatly increase the panic. But that was a team that, although it finished first in 1995, was not tabbed to win 100 games or shatter offensive records or cure cancer or anything like that. So any panic that did exist then would not compare if the current club goes 6-19.
It’s interesting to note that the ’96 team had the best record in baseball after the All-Star break.
11:08 a.m.: Jon Lester stepped to the mound as the featured starter six days ago. He now has to be the stopper.
Well, he had a 5.37 ERA in starts made after a loss last year. That said, he was 9-3 and if you remove two horrendous starts from that 13-start docket, the ERA drops to 3.68.
But you can’t drop those two starts, and as it is, a 3.68 mark is a bit higher than what Lester aims for. So, as good as he is, there have been some bumps in the road in situations like this.
That’s not to say Lester isn’t clutch. He is. His 2.57 postseason ERA will attest to that. Just something to chew on as the Red Sox, and their fans, lean heavily on the lefty today.
9:35 a.m.: Here are the lineups to go with your eggs and bacon:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
J.D. Drew, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Marco Scutaro, SS
Orlando Cabrera, 2B
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Shin-Soo Choo, RF
Carlos Santana, C
Shelley Duncan, DH
Austin Kearns, LF
Matt LaPorta, 1B
Travis Buck, CF
Adam Everett, 3B
For more on some of the matchups, click here.
6 a.m.: The 0-5 Red Sox will try, again, to pick up their first win of the season when they send Jon Lester to the mound in the finale of a three-game series in Cleveland.
Lester, the Opening Day starter, will make his second appearance of the season hoping to erase what took place Friday afternoon in Texas. Lester gave up three home runs for the first time in his career and failed to strike out a hitter for just the second time, setting the tone for a horrendous turn through the rotation for Boston.
Daisuke Matsuzaka lasted five innings in an 8-4 loss on Wednesday. It was the fifth straight game that the Sox failed to get a quality start. Still, so many other scenarios killed Boston’s chances on Wednesday, from missed scoring opportunities to a painful defensive miscue and some shaky relief pitching.
The Red Sox are one of three teams in baseball still seeking that first win. One of the others is American League East rival Tampa Bay.
Following Thursday’s contest, which begins at 12:05 p.m., Boston hops a plane back home for the Friday opener at Fenway Park against the New York Yankees.