BOSTON — Matt Barnes’ first three innings as a major league starting pitcher were highly encouraging for the Boston Red Sox. His next two were anything but.
Barnes, recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to bolster Boston’s battered rotation, was unable to contain the Cleveland Indians on Monday as the Red Sox dropped the opener of their three-game series 8-2 at Fenway Park.
GAME IN A WORD
Barnes’ first trip through the Cleveland order featured zero hits, one walk and five strikeouts. His second? Three singles, two doubles, one walk and two strikeouts, with eight of those nine plate appearances coming during a single inning.
It’s safe to say the Indians had a bit better of a read on the rookie after facing him once.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Cleveland smacked Barnes around in the fourth, sending nine men to the plate and racking up five runs to take a 5-1 lead they would not relinquish.
ON THE BUMP
— Barnes’ first inning as a major league starter was an eventful one. The Indians evidently believed they could run on the 25-year-old right-hander, as each of the game’s first three batters attempted to steal second after reaching base. Two were successful, but catcher Ryan Hanigan gunned down Francisco Lindor for the first out of the inning.
The Red Sox then picked up the second out at the plate — with first baseman Travis Shaw fielding a grounder and throwing home to nab leadoff man Jose Ramirez — and Barnes struck out Carlos Santana looking to retire the side.
Barnes buckled down to cruise through the second and third — striking out four of Cleveland’s six batters in the two frames — before running into a whole heap of trouble in the fourth. Barnes began the inning by striking out Lindor, but three straight hits — a ground-rule double, a base hit to right and a bunt single — allowed the Indians to tie the game at one run apiece.
A walk to Yan Gomes loaded the bases, and Lonnie Chisenhall drove in two runs by lining a double over the head of left fielder Hanley Ramirez, who made his return to the lineup Monday after missing six games with a foot injury. It was another defensive miscue by Ramirez, whose outfield struggles this season have been well-documented.
An RBI groundout scored another run, and a two-out single by former Red Sox infielder Mike Aviles made it 5-1 Indians before the ninth batter of the inning, Jose Ramirez, flied out to center for the final out.
Barnes was the beneficiary of a fantastic diving catch by Mookie Betts in the fifth, but his good fortune did not last long. Abraham Almonte blasted a solo home run in the ensuing at-bat to stretch Cleveland’s lead to 6-1.
As that fifth inning ended, so did Barnes’ night. He was charged with six runs (all earned) on six hits, walking three and striking out seven.
— Heath Hembree, who, like Barnes, joined the big club Monday from Pawtucket, came on to work the sixth and immediately was taken deep. Chisenhall led off the frame with a homer that made it 7-1 in favor of the visitors.
Defensive maven Jackie Bradley Jr.’s pursuit of that home run ball took him to the top of, and then over the right field wall, but even he was unable to haul in Chisenhall’s bomb.
Before the Red Sox, Indians take field for pre-game drills tomorrow, I'm going to try this just for the fun of it. http://t.co/B2NPr1rzAJ—
Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) August 18, 2015
Hembree settled down from there, however, retiring seven of the following eight batters before exiting with one out in the eighth.
— Tommy Layne struck out two in a row to end the eighth. He returned to the ninth and allowed a double, a single and an RBI groundout before retiring the side.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— The first six Red Sox batters went down in order against Indians starter Danny Salazar before Travis Shaw launched a solo home run into the right field seats to lead off the third inning. The homer was Shaw’s third in his last four games, and it gave Boston a 1-0 lead.
Shaw actually drove in both of Boston’s runs, the second of which came via an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
— Salazar shut down the Sox for much of the night, pitching 1-2-3 innings in the first, second, fourth and fifth. Boston did show some life in the sixth, but a double play wiped away a leadoff walk by Bradley, and Brock Holt was stranded on second after doubling with two outs.
— Boston’s only other extra-base hit was a seventh-inning double by Ramirez — just his 10th two-bagger of the season. Ramirez also drew a one-out walk in the ninth.
— Bradley also walked in the eighth. He, Betts (single, fielder’s choice) and Ramirez were the only Red Sox batters to reach base multiple times.
TWEET OF THE GAME
This is not a great spot for a first-pitch fastball to someone who regularly swings first pitch. It's 6-1 Indians: http://t.co/r6vZhqfmNn—
Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 18, 2015
The Sox and Tribe will be back at it Tuesday night, with Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez going up against Trevor Bauer.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images