It’s safe to say the Red Sox had an absolute blast Thursday night.
Boston claimed the American League East with a win in the series finale over the New York Yankees and got to pop champagne bottles on their fiercest rival’s turf.
To date, it would be tough to top the division-clinching win for the Red Sox this season. But given how things played out Friday night at Progressive Field, manager Alex Cora was of the belief that the 7-5 victory in the series opener against the Cleveland Indians was among the most entertaining of the season for his team.
Boston received an encouraging start from Chris Sale, who continues to gain strength after returning from the disabled list. The left-hander hurled 3 1/3 innings over 73 pitches, which was more than his previous two starts combined. But Sale only was a piece of the fun for the Red Sox on Friday.
Factor in solid work from the bullpen, mounting a comeback with a four-run seventh inning and impressive showings from a handful of Red Sox youngsters on a night when a slew of usual starters had the night off, and it makes sense why the manager was filled with joy after the game.
“That was one of the most enjoyable games of the season,” Cora said, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “To have obviously — those guys didn’t play — they were on the top step, it was like a regular game. Like I said, we do feel that when we play we can score runs. Good to see Sam (Travis) put in good at-bats and Tzu-Wei (Lin), too, that was good. And then the other guys, Brock (Holt) keeps swinging the bat well. See Robby (Scott) coming into the game and kind of like manage that inning.
“It was a fun game overall. It was good, good energy. It was a long night, we go here late and for them to come here and play, it was fun.”
With October baseball right around the corner, Cora certainly is hoping that even more fun is in store.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Indians:
— It was a night of firsts for a pair of Red Sox youngsters. Travis opened the scoring for Boston in the third inning with his first career MLB home run, while Lin followed suit with the same achievement to tack on some insurance in the ninth.
— Matt Barnes saw his first game action since Sep. 3 when he appeared in the sixth inning. The right-hander posted a clean inning with a strikeout and earned the win in the process.
— Josh Donaldson halted Sale’s streak of innings pitched without allowing a home run at 75 1/3 frames. The veteran slugger now has hit five home runs off Sale, which marks the most the left-hander has allowed to any hitter.
— Holt remained red-hot with a 3-for-4 performance at the dish. The ultra-utility man has notched hits in nine of his last 10 games.
— The Red Sox can break the franchise record for wins in a season with a victory in Saturday’s middle game against the Indians, which would mark No. 106 on the year.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports