Clay Buchholz was about as dominant as he has been all season, allowing a lone run on a first-inning home run from Asdrubal Cabrera. Otherwise, Buchholz tossed a complete game thriller giving the Indians essentially no shot at coming back for a win.
Cody Ross was the big hero on the offensive side, blasting a two-run bomb in the sixth inning to straightaway center field to give Boston the lead. After that it was all Buchholz for the close out, striking out six in nine innings of pure dominance and pulling the Red Sox all the way to the finish line.
For Buchholz, Friday marks his 10th win of the season, and after having his ERA bloated up to more than 9.00 in mid May, it is all the way back down to a more reasonable 4.24 — including a 2.00 ERA since June 1.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 3-2: With so much going right for the Red Sox on Friday night, there was just bound for something to go wrong.
Will Middlebrooks took a 96 mph fastball off the right hand — his throwing hand — during the top of the ninth and had to be taken out of the game as he appeared to be in pain.
With Nick Punto pinch-running on first, pinch-hitter Carl Crawford couldn't do anything at the dish nor could Shoppach — both striking out to end the inning.
Now it's up to Buchholz to come out and close this one. He's been dominant for eight innings and is looking for his second complete game of the year.
End 8th, Red Sox 3-2: Clay just finished the eighth inning much as he has nearly every inning here in Cleveland.
Buchholz picked up his fifth strikeout of the night and blew through the Indians order with another quick 1-2-3 inning.
It seems like everything is flowing perfectly out of his hand against the Indians and if he comes back out for the ninth — which seems likely at 89 pitches — it will be the second time he's done so in 2012 (June 7 vs. Baltimore).
Mid 8th, Red Sox 3-2: The top of the Sox lineup is threatening once again here in the eighth.
Mike Aviles kicked things off with a one-out single to left field, which was then followed by a Pedroia four-pitch walk.
That sequence spelled the end of Cody Allen's 1 1/3 innings of work. Reliever Esmil Rogers came on and busted Cleveland out of the jam, though, getting Gonzo to end the inning on just three pitches.
End 7th, Red Sox 3-2: Buchholz continues his efficient outing with yet another quick 1-2-3 inning.
The Indians haven't seemed to find the answer to the Buchholz puzzle and he just keeps dealing as well as he has all season.
He's now induced eight groundouts and struck out four, while keeping his flyballs relatively shallow — again, aside from Cabrera's of course — and is more than anything just overpowering the Cleveland bats.
Now through seven, Buch's only tossed 77 pitches and an unbelievable 56 have been for strikes.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-2: After six strong innings, Chris Seddon was pulled from Friday's start in favor of some bullpen help.
Seddon, who was damn near unhittable through the first three innings, allowed three runs including a two-run bomb — and I mean bomb — to Cody Ross in the sixth.
Cody Allen came on for the Indians, though, shutting down the Sox' suddenly sparked offense and mowing down the bottom of the lineup with a strikeout of Lavarnway followed by a pair of fly outs from Shoppach and Podsednik.
End 6th, Red Sox 3-2: So, that just happened.
I've seen my fair share of errors over my lifetime, but double-error plays are very rare.
Pedey, uncharacteristically, with the botched pickup over by the second base bag followed by an unfathomable throwing error from Aviles allowed Jason Donald to get all the way to third.
Carrera sacrificed to deep right and scored Donald to cut the Sox lead to 3-2. Still, though, there should be a pair of outs in the inning rather than the lead down to a sole run.
Buchholz was able to regroup nicely, though, getting Cabrera to flyout — finally sitting the pesky shortstop down — and then striking out Choo on three pitches.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-1: After five long innings of frustration, Cody Ross gave the Red Sox a spark of life.
Pedroia got on with a one-out single earlier in the inning, but with Pedey on base Ross unloaded a 430-foot bomb to straightaway center field to give the Sox a 3-1 lead.
Ross' mash, his 18th of the season, is a great sign for Boston against Seddon as it seems they're starting to figure out the right-hander the third time through the lineup.
End 5th, 1-1: Eight pitches and a 1-2-3 finish the fifth inning, Clay Buchholz is absolutely rolling through this Indians lineup — aside from Cabrera, of course.
Buch was dealing with a good mix of fastballs and changeups that are coming at all angles of the plate, and with pinpoint location.
With 53 pitches through five innings, Buchholz could be in for the long haul on Friday which could pay huge dividends for a recently overworked Boston bullpen.
Mid 5th, 1-1: Scott Podsednik tried to get things going again with two outs in the fifth, but even after speeding down the first base line on an infield single, the Sox couldn't capitalize.
Ellsbury continued on with his brutal slump, flying out to shallow center and making him 1-for-15 over the past four games. Although a pair of sweet plays by Indians outfielders has robbed Ellsbury twice on Friday.
Ells was starting to crush in the homestand against the Twins last weekend, but something happened after a 3-for-5 performance against the Rangers on Monday and he's been unable to regroup. This could be a serious problem for the Sox, too, as the leadoff hitter needs to find his rhythm and actually get something going for the top of the lineup.
End 4th, 1-1: With how good Buchholz has been on Friday, it looks like Asdrubal Cabrera is the only guy that can seem to solve the pitcher's puzzle.
After smacking a towering home run to get the scoring started in the first inning, Cabrera belted a deep double to right-center field and gave the Indians something to work with in the fourth.
But even after Cabrera went on to third base, Buchholz found his way out of the jam by forcing Choo, Michael Brantley and Shelley Duncan into three easy outs and keep the game at an even 1-1.
Mid 4th, 1-1: Mike Aviles worked a walk, which is like the solar eclipse of major league baseball. But the patient plate appearance gave the Sox a threat and ultimately the game-tying run.
Aviles went from first to third on a costly throwing error from the starter Seddon, and that's when the Red Sox capitalized.
Dustin Pedroia drove in the run with a single through into left field. It finally seems that the Sox are getting to Seddon and with a heavy storm looming it could be coming at a terrible time for the Boston bats.
Adrian Gonzalez and Middlebrooks made the most of their at bats, but ultimately there was nothing more doing. But the big takeaway is that the Sox have provided Buchholz with some run support to work with and continue in his comfortable role.
End 3rd, Indians 1-0: Buchholz is really working the Indians hitters.
Aside from Cabrera's homer, Buchholz has been spot on with everything and even added a pair of strikeouts to his resume in three solid innings of work in Cleveland thus far.
Having thrown just 36 pitches, and 27 for strikes to boot, Buchholz is yet again looking at a dominant and extremely efficient outing.
Over the past two-plus months, Buchholz has been the Sox' best all-around pitcher with an ERA nearing a flat 2.00.
Mid 3rd, Indians 1-0: Ryan Lavarnway finally got the offense up and running in the third.
It may not have come from the most likely source, as Lavarnway has struggled to adjust to the big leagues since his callup after mashing with Triple-A Pawtucket.
But the bulky catcher continued the Sox woes on the basepaths, as Lavarnway was thrown out by a mile on an attempted steal on a passed ball. Carlos Santana quickly recovered and got Lavarnway with time to spare.
Shoppach and Podsednik didn't help out the Sox' cause either, quickly heading back to the pine with nothing to show for their at bats.
As an added bonus for the Indians, Seddon threw just 15 pitches in the inning and sits at just 36 for the game.
End 2nd, Indians 1-0: Buchholz has responded to the Cabrera home run with a vengance at Progressive Field.
After a 15-pitch first inning that saw Cabrera take the right-hander deep, Buchholz has settled in to get the next five guys in order, including four groundouts. The inning also only took Clay 11 pitches this time around and has him on an efficient streak heading deep into the game.
The Boston bats now must help back their ace — and I mean it — in hopes of pulling out a win.
Mid 2nd, Indians 1-0: The Boston bats went down in order in the first, and they didn't fare any better in the second inning either.
Gonzo, Cody Ross and Will Middlebrooks all went down in pretty quick fashion, allowing Seddon to escape having thrown just 11 pitches.
The 28-year-old journeyman is definitely no ace, but so far he looks to have good control of the Red Sox lineup. This is becoming far too reminiscent of when Twins starter Samuel Deduno took care of business with a two-hitter at Fenway last weekend.
End 1st, Indians 1-0: Clay Buchholz looked solid in striking out the Indians' leadoff hitter, but then Asdrubal Cabrera made him pay.
Cleveland's star shortstop went way deep to left field on Buchholz in the first, giving the Indians a quick 1-0 lead.
Buchholz was able to bounce back and finish off the inning with a strong performance and a pair of flyouts.
After an underwhelming start from the offense in the first, Cabrera's early homer couldn't have come at a worse time. The Sox are certainly hoping that the bats will come alive for Buchholz at some point, though.
Mid 1st Inning, 0-0: The Red Sox offense did not do anything to back up their starter in the first inning — surprise, surprise.
Indians starter Chris Seddon — who? — sat the top of the Sox lineup down in order, needing just 10 pitches to do so.
Ellsbury went down on a slow-rolling grounder on the first pitch of the game, followed by a flyout from Aviles and an unfortunate strikeout from Pedroia.
It's looking like Buchholz will have to really hunker down on the mound if the Sox are to have any hope at a win.
7 p.m.: Clay Buchholz has got his right arm warmed up and he's ready to take the mound in Cleveland.
But first it will be the job of Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Aviles — yes, Mike Aviles — and Dustin Pedroia to get Boston off to a hot start.
The Sox desperately need a win on Friday and without one could be in for a world of hurt and dig themselves even deeper into a hole in the playoff race.
Either way, let's let if fly and play some baseball.
6:21 p.m.: The Red Sox are looking for new ways to get Pedro Ciriaco into the lineup, and moving him to a new position is an option on the table.
Ciriaco, who has hit .306 for the Sox since his callup on July 7, has wielded one of the hottest bats in the Boston order and it's likely that Valentine is merely looking for new ways to incorporate the utility man.
It could be a difficult adjustment for Ciriaco this far into the season, but his ability to rotate between the infield and the outfield would also offer him much more playing time.
5:45 p.m.: It looks like Felix Doubront is going to be shut down, but not for good.
Cook hasn't started since a dominant win over the Rangers on Monday and likely won't take the hill again until next Tuesday.
Doubront's troublesome performance on Thursday night — allowing four runs over 4 1/3 innings — might have been the final link that set off this chain of events, especially considering the left-hander is quickly approaching his career high of nearly 130 innings.
4:21 p.m.: Scott Podsednik is back in Boston, and he'll get a chance to contribute again as early as Friday night.
Podsednik, who hit .387 in 19 games in his first stint with Boston, will be inserted into the lineup in place of Carl Crawford.
Check out the full rosters for both sides, below.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Mike Aviles, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Cody Ross, RF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Ryan Lavarnway, DH
Kelly Shoppach, C
Scott Podsednik, LF
Clay Buchholz, P
Ezequiel Carrera, LF
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Shin-Soo Choo, RF
Carlos Santana, C
Michael Brantley, CF
Shelley Duncan, DH
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Jason Donald, 2B
Chris Seddon, P
8 a.m.: The Red Sox struggled through their third straight loss on Thursday night, dropping yet another close one in a 5-3 loss to the Indians.
Felix Doubront was unable to get it done on the mound for the Sox in Cleveland, but the red-hot Clay Buchholz may find a different result in his start on Friday. Buchholz, who has been stellar since overcoming some early-season troubles, will take the hill with the lowest starter's ERA on the Boston roster and in search of his 10th win of the season.
The Sox also signed Scott Podsednik yet again, after he was released by the Diamondbacks following a deadline deal on July 31. Podsednik will likely see some action in the field, but it remains to be seen whom he will replace.
Tune into the game live on NESN, starting at 6 p.m. with Red Sox pregame show. Then get all geared up for first pitch at 7:05 p.m.