Final, Indians 12-3: Terry Francona’s return to Fenway Park was a joyous one — for him, at least.
Francona’s Indians jumped all over Ryan Dempster early, and they then put the game out of reach with a six-run sixth inning en route to a 12-3 victory.
Michael Bourn, Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs each had three hits apiece for Cleveland, while Carlos Santana reached base five times (four walks and a single).
Daniel Nava reached base four times, and David Ortiz connected on a three-run home run in the third inning to cut Cleveland’s lead to 4-3, but the Indians’ offense was relentless against Dempster and Co.
Dempster lasted just three innings before John Farrell turned to the bullpen. Dempster gave up four runs on five hits and four walks. He struck out four and threw 85 pitches (52 strikes).
John Lackey will take the ball on Friday as the Red Sox look to bounce back from a very disappointing start to the homestand. The action is scheduled to kick off at 7:10 p.m.
Good night, everyone.
Mid 9th, Indians 12-3: Andrew Miller got some work in in the ninth inning.
Miller retired the Indians in order, striking out two in the process. The left-hander fanned Asdrubal Cabrera on a slider, and he then got Michael Brantley looking on a 96-mph fastball.
“The Final Countdown” now comes over the Fenway Park loudspeaker as the Red Sox look to rally from nine runs down in the ninth inning.
End 8th, Indians 12-3: The Red Sox came oh-so-close to putting up their first run since the third inning, but the opportunity went by the board.
The Red Sox got two men into scoring position when Daniel Nava led off the eighth inning with a single, and Ryan Lavarnway — pinch-hitting for David Ortiz — doubled over Michael Bourn’s head in center field. Mike Napoli struck out swinging, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined out to third base, though, and Cleveland still owns a nine-run lead.
Nava has been one of the Red Sox’ lone bright spot in this game. He has reached base four times (two singles, two walks), and he scored on David Ortiz’s three-run homer.
Napoli has struck out three times after going down swinging in the eighth.
Mid 8th, Indians 12-3: Drew Stubbs became the third Cleveland hitter with three hits in the eighth inning, but the score stayed the same.
Stubbs doubled off the new pitcher, Junichi Tazawa, with one out, and he joins Michael Bourn and Mark Reynolds with three hits.
Both Bourn and Cord Phelps grounded out after Stubbs’ double to end the inning.
End 7th, Indians 12-3: Scott Barnes pitched the seventh inning for Cleveland, and 1-2-3 went Boston.
Stephen Drew flied out for the first out. Mike Carp struck out swinging for the second out. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded back to the mound for the third out.
Maybe this is just the Red Sox’ way of thanking Terry Francona. It has to be, right?
Mid 7th, Indians 12-3: The Indians almost tacked on a little bit more, but an inning-ending double play helped Craig Breslow avoid any damage.
Carlos Santana walked with one out, and Mark Reynolds roped a single into the left-center field gap. Santana was held at third base and Reynolds was held at first, largely because of Cleveland’s nine-run advantage.
Breslow got Yan Gomes to ground back to the mound with one out and runners at the corners, and he started up a 1-6-3 double play to end the top of the seventh.
More and more fans are filing for the exits. In addition to the blowout, there’s some rain falling at Fenway.
End 6th, Indians 12-3: Cody Allen replaced Zach McAllister after the starter went five innings. He enjoyed a very easy frame.
Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each struck out looking to start the sixth inning. Allen froze both hitters with curveballs.
Pedro Ciriaco, who took over at third base when Will Middlebrooks left with back spasms, flied out into shallow right field in his first at-bat.
Craig Breslow is coming on to pitch the seventh inning for Boston.
Mid 6th, Indians 12-3: The Indians are in the driver’s seat.
Mark Reynolds greeted Alex Wilson — who took over with the bases loaded and no outs –with a single into center field to extend Cleveland’s lead to 7-3.
The Indians were just getting started.
Yan Gomes should have been retired when he popped up into foul territory along the first-base line, but Mike Napoli couldn’t make the play. Napoli looked a little shaky from the start, and the ball popped out of his glove to give Gomes another life.
Gomes didn’t disappoint. He connected on a two-run double to left field to put the Indians in control 9-3.
The Tribe added two more runs when Drew Stubbs hit a line drive over Jacoby Ellsbury’s head and into the triangle in center field. Reynolds and Gomes each scored, while Stubbs hustled all the way to third base for a standup triple.
Michael Bourn tacked on Cleveland’s 12th run with a single into right field. He’s now 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Mortensen gave up five earned runs on five hits and three walks in two innings of work. Wilson has been charged with two earned runs — one run was unearned — on four hits through an inning.
9:37 p.m., Indians 6-3: Clayton Mortensen’s night is over, and he wasn’t much more effective than Ryan Dempster.
Mortensen gave up two walks and a single to begin the sixth inning, and the Red Sox will now turn to Alex Wilson with the bases loaded and no outs.
End 5th, Indians 6-3: Daniel Nava continues to be an on-base machine, but the Red Sox couldn’t use his one-out walk to chip away in the fifth.
Jacoby Ellsbury struck out to begin the inning before Nava walked on seven pitches. Ellsbury is 1-for-3 with a bunt single and two strikeouts in this game, after reaching base safely four times on Wednesday night.
Nava, whose on-base percentage is up to .396, took second base on a two-out wild pitch from Zach McAllister. The Red Sox couldn’t cash in, though, as David Ortiz — who is responsible for driving in all three of Boston’s runs — grounded out to third base.
9:20 p.m., Indians 6-3: Will Middlebrooks’ injury, which forced the third baseman out of the game after his second at-bat, is being described as “lower back spasms.”
Mid 5th, Indians 6-3: The Red Sox needed Clayton Mortensen to come in and play damage control after a rough outing from Ryan Dempster. But Mortensen is having a hard time keeping the Indians off the scoreboard as well.
Mike Aviles singled with one out in the fifth inning, and he then stole second base. Jarrod Saltalamacchia — who threw out two would-be base-stealers on Wednesday — delivered a strong throw after a pitch that was high and out of the strike zone, but Stephen Drew couldn’t corral it.
Michael Bourn, who is now 2-for-4, drove in Aviles with a single into right field.
End 4th, Indians 5-3: Zach McAllister did a nice job of bouncing back in the fourth inning after a rocky third inning.
McAllister retired Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew and Mike Carp in order. Middlebrooks struck out, giving him two strikeouts in this game, and Drew and Carp each grounded out.
Most importantly, though, Middlebrooks is coming out of this game. It’s unclear what’s wrong with him — aside from him not producing — but I’ll certainly pass along any information as it becomes available. Middlebrooks, of course, dealt with a rib issue earlier this season.
Pedro Ciriaco is taking over at third base.
Mid 4th, Indians 5-3: Clayton Mortensen didn’t fare too well in his first inning of work. He allowed the Indians to get a run back.
Michael Bourn led off the inning with a double, and he came around to score when Asdrubal Cabrera singled into left field with one out.
Mortensen issued a two-out walk to Carlos Santana to set up runners at first and second, but the righty escaped the inning by getting Mark Reynolds to ground into a 6-4 forceout.
Dempster’s night is over after just three innings, which continues a string of rough starts. Dempster entered the game 0-2 in his last three outings. He gave up five runs and threw 127 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the Twins on Saturday, and he surrendered six earned runs in five innings against the Blue Jays on May 12.
In this game, Dempster gave up four runs on five hits. He struck out four, walked four and threw 85 pitches (52 strikes) in three frames.
End 3rd, Indians 4-3: Terry Francona probably wouldn’t mind if he could still pencil David Ortiz’s name into his lineup card.
Ortiz absolutely unleashed on a pitch on the inner half of the plate, and drove a three-run blast into the right-field seats to get the Red Sox back in this game.
Jacoby Ellsbury started the third-inning rally with a bunt single down the third-base line. Mike Aviles let the ball roll in the hopes of it going foul, but it rolled past the third base bag in fair territory to give Ellsbury a leadoff single.
Daniel Nava then walked before Dustin Pedroia almost put the Red Sox on the scoreboard. Pedroia singled into center field, and third base coach Brian Butterfield waved Ellsbury home. It wasn’t a very wise decision, however, as Ellsbury was gunned down by Michael Bourn for the inning’s first out.
Ortiz didn’t waste any time when he stepped into the box following what could have been a deflating out. Ortiz jumped all over the first pitch he saw — a 92 mph fastball from Zach McAllister — and launched the game-changing, three-run homer.
If Ellsbury didn’t get thrown out at the plate, we’d be looking at a tie ballgame, but there’s plenty of baseball left. The Red Sox are suddenly in much better shape.
John Farrell isn’t going to waste any more time with Ryan Dempster. He’s turning to the bullpen early, as Clayton Mortensen is coming in to start the fourth inning.
Mid 3rd, Indians 4-0: Ryan Dempster is laboring through another start.
Dempster, who entered the game on the heels of back-to-back subpar outings, gave up three more runs in the third inning, and the Red Sox now trail 4-0. The right-hander’s pitch count is up to 85.
Dempster struck out Jason Kipnis for the first out, but things unraveled after that. Asdrubal Cabrera singled into center field, and Dempster then issued back-to-back walks to Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera.
Mark Reynolds made Dempster pay for his control issues. Reynolds lined a two-run single into left-center field, which immediately drew a mound visit and got action stirring in the Boston bullpen.
The Indians weren’t done. Dempster issued his third walk of the inning — and fourth of the game — to Yan Gomes, which reloaded the bases for Mike Aviles. Aviles hit a grounder to short that Stephen Drew fielded cleanly and tried to turn into a double play, but it wasn’t hit hard enough, and Aviles beat out Dustin Pedroia’s throw at first. The forceout plated Cleveland’s fourth run.
Dempster struck out Drew Stubbs to avoid any additional damage, but it was a very bad inning overall for the Red Sox. Clayton Mortensen is warming up in the bullpen, so we’ll see how long Dempster lasts in this one.
The good news for Boston fans? The Bruins scored two goals in New York while all of this happened at Fenway.
End 2nd, Indians 1-0: The Red Sox left what could have been their first run 90 feet away in the second inning.
Mike Napoli got things going with a base hit through the left side of the infield, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia worked a walk to generate a nice scoring chance with no outs. The Red Sox, who have had trouble at times this season getting timely hits, faltered from there.
Will Middlebrooks struck out looking for the first out. He showed some fight after falling behind in the count 0-2, but Zach McAllister got him looking with a fastball on — or off, depending on who you ask — the outside corner. Middlebrooks wasn’t a fan of the call, and he might have a point, as it looked a bit outside. Still, with two strikes, it’s a pitch you’ve got to try and at least foul off.
Stephen Drew flied out to center field for the second out, although his out was somewhat productive. Napoli moved to third base on the play, setting up runners at the corners with two down. Napoli scored on a passed ball on Wednesday, so you never know what can happen when you get a runner 90 feet away from home plate.
The Red Sox didn’t have any two-out magic in them. Mike Carp grounded to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who made the play and took a few steps toward second base before firing to first for the sure out.
Mid 2nd, Indians 1-0: Now that the Terry Francona festivities are out of the way, the Red Sox need to settle down and play some baseball.
The Indians jumped out to a 1-0 in the second inning, shortly after Francona’s video tribute/standing ovation.
Carlos Santana got the inning started with a surprising bunt. The ball rolled right along the third-base line, and it eventually came to a stop in fair territory, allowing Santana to reach.
Mark Reynolds then walked to increase the threat a little bit more, although it looked like Ryan Dempster was on the verge of pitching his way out of it. Dempster struck out Yan Gomes and retired Mike Aviles on a flyout to right field before trouble started back up.
The Tribe got on the scoreboard when Drew Stubbs hit a blooper down the right-field line. Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli raced out, while Daniel Nava charged in. Pedroia eventually went into a dive, and the ball ricocheted off him. Stubbs wound up on second base, Reynolds advanced to third and Santana scored the game’s first run.
Michael Bourn, who struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat, put up a good battle against Dempster with two runners in scoring position. But the right-hander escaped any further damage by getting the speedy leadoff man to ground out to first base.
7:32 p.m.: Terry Francona just received a standing ovation as a video montage played on the Fenway Park big screen. It ended with a message thanking Tito — an “old friend.” Francona responded by touching his heart and acknowledging the Fenway Faithful.
End 1st, 0-0: Daniel Nava was thinking three bases out of the box after driving a ball into the right-center field gap. He wisely tossed on the brakes, though.
Jacoby Ellsbury struck out to begin the bottom of the first. Ellsbury was retired in his first at-bat on Wednesday night, but he reached the next four times he came up. Let’s see if he can enjoy a similar turnaround in this game.
Nava then doubled into right-center field. He took a big turn around second base, but he thought better of the situation and retreated to the bag.
The Red Sox couldn’t cash in on the one-out double. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz both popped out to second baseman Jason Kipnis to end the inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: The first inning started off in impressive fashion for the Red Sox. It ended with a sigh of relief.
Ryan Dempster got the game going by making quick work of Indians leadoff hitter Michael Bourn. Dempster went with a couple of offspeed offerings before sitting Bourn down with a fastball on the third pitch of the at-bat.
Jason Kipnis made a little bit of noise for Cleveland with a single into center field, but Dempster bounced back to retire both Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley via a pair flyouts.
Brantley’s fly ball to left field seemed to cause a little bit of confusion for Mike Carp, though. Carp and Jacoby Ellsbury both converged on the edge of the warning track, and the ball almost dropped in before Carp stuck his glove out and made a lunging catch.
It was a very strange play to end the inning. Carp is making just his seventh start in left field this season.
7:12 p.m.: Michael Bourn takes a cut, but comes up empty on Ryan Dempster’s first pitch. We’re off and running at Fenway.
7:10 p.m.: Unfortunately, Terry Francona didn’t bring the Indians’ lineup card out of the dugout. Instead, it was bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. who did the honors.
Hold your applause for now, Red Sox fans.
7:05 p.m.: We’ve got overcast conditions at Fenway Park. Hopefully, Mother Nature doesn’t start acting up.
6:40 p.m.: Terry Francona has undoubtedly thought about his Fenway return, but the Indians manager also sounds like a guy who’s more focused on his current job than anything.
“I’m sure I’ll have a lot of emotions,” Francona told reporters on Wednesday. “The one thing I want to remind myself — and I have — is that this game is tough enough to play and I don’t want our guys having extra baggage during that series. I need to be very cognizant of that, that whatever feelings I’m having, I’ll deal with ‘em.
“It’s hard enough to play this game.”
There seems to be a similar sentiment kicking around the Red Sox’ clubhouse. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz — who are as close to Francona as anyone else on the Red Sox — each said their focus is on their own team.
The downplaying of this series is for a number of reasons — the most obvious being each team’s ongoing success. Neither team can afford to get caught up in the emotions of Francona’s return because it could make life more difficult when the games start up.
Also, this isn’t exactly Francona’s first time back at Fenway. It’s simply his first time coming back as a member of the opposition. It’s still pretty special, but the focus really needs to be on these four baseball games.
6:20 p.m.: Keep in mind, folks, that the Bruins will be trying to close out the Rangers in New York on Thursday. You may or may not be a hockey fan, but if you’re interested in keeping tabs on that playoff game, be sure to check out NESN.com’s live blog at the link below.
4:57 p.m.: Terry Francona’s return is obviously the most talked-about, but there are a number of other former members of the Red Sox organization dropping by the friendly confines this week.
Matt Albers, Justin Masterson, Rich Hill, Mike Aviles, Kevin Cash and Brad Mills are all with the Tribe these days.
3:50 p.m.: Daniel Nava will slide up into the two-hole with Shane Victorino still sidelined and a right-hander on the hill. Mike Carp will get the start in left field and bat ninth.
The rest of Thursday’s lineups are below.
Red Sox (28-19)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
Mike Carp, LF
Ryan Dempster, RHP (2-4, 4.27 ERA)
Michael Bourn, CF
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Michael Brantley, LF
Carlos Santana, 1B
Mark Reynolds, DH
Yan Gomes, C
Mike Aviles, 3B
Drew Stubbs, RF
Zach McAllister, RHP (3-3, 2.65 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: Many Red Sox fans have had this date circled on their calendar. Old friend Terry Francona is set to return to Boston as manager of the Cleveland Indians.
Francona, who helped guide the Red Sox to two World Series titles during his eight years as Boston’s manager, didn’t leave town in the most ideal way, but many Bostonians undoubtedly have a soft spot for Tito. And how could they not? Francona not only helped break an 86-year-old curse, but he also was, by all accounts, one of the most likable guys around.
Many current Red Sox players played for Francona, but you can bet the lovefest will be short-lived, mainly because it has to be. The Indians enter Thursday’s series opener atop the American League Central with a 26-19 record, and they’re a far better team than they were when the Red Sox swept them in Cleveland back on April 16-18.
Ryan Dempster will get the start for Boston on Thursday. He’s still looking for his third win of the season, and he’ll go up against Zach McAllister on Thursday.
The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Be sure to tune in on NESN, and keep it right here with NESN.com’s live blog.