No matter who is on the field, the Boston Red Sox just find ways to win.
On a night in which several typical Red Sox starters received the night off, Boston rallied to take down the Cleveland Indians 7-5 in the series opener at Progressive Field.
Chris Sale turned in his longest outing since returning from his second disabled list stint of the season. The left-hander logged 3 1/3 innings in which he allowed two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. The Red Sox’s pitching staff also received a boost from the offense, including a pair of first career MLB home runs.
With the win, the Red Sox improve to 105-49, which tied the franchise record for most wins in a season. The Indians fall to 85-68 with the loss.
Here’s how it all went down:
GAME IN A WORD
The Red Sox could have packed it in the night after clinching the division, but the 2018 American League East champions fought until the end.
ON THE BUMP
— Sale was sharp out of the gate, needing only 15 pitches to record a 1-2-3 first inning before striking out the side in the second. The left-hander needed to battle in the third in which he allowed two singles, but he managed to make it out of the inning unscathed. Sale wasn’t able to do the same in the fourth, though.
With the Red Sox leading 1-0, Josh Donaldson tied the game with a towering one-out solo shot, which snapped Sale’s scoreless streak at 35 innings.
Yandy Diaz kept it rolling for the Indians when he followed Donaldson with a single, which prompted Sox manager Alex Cora to pull his starter from the contest.
— Heath Hembree quickly recorded the second out of the fourth inning before allowing a go-ahead, two-run home run to Yan Gomes.
Hembree struck out Jason Kipnis to put an end to the messy frame.
— Bobby Poyner came on for the fifth and was rudely greeted by a Francisco Lindor leadoff double followed by a Michael Brantley single. Jose Ramirez proceeded to plate Lindor with a sacrifice fly before Poyner was able to get out of the inning.
— The sixth inning belonged to Matt Barnes, who saw his first action on the mound since Sep. 3. The right-hander looked relatively sharp in a 1-2-3 inning.
— Drew Pomeranz was called on for the seventh and quickly recorded the first two outs of the inning via strikeout before things began to unravel a bit. The left-hander hit Brantley with a pitch and allowed a double to Ramirez that got caught in the wind and evaded Sam Travis in left. After Encarnacion reached via base on balls, Cora had seen enough from Pomeranz.
— Brandon Workman recorded the final out of the seventh.
— Hector Velazquez entered in the eighth. After Erik Gonzalez reached on a Rafael Devers error to lead off the inning, the Indians utility man moved to third thanks to a one-out double from Gomes, which prompted Cora to make a pitching change.
— Robby Scott recorded the final two outs of the eighth to get the Red Sox out of the inning unscathed.
— Craig Kimbrel locked down the win with a perfect ninth inning for his 42nd save of the season.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— Boston posted its first run of the game when Travis led off the third inning with his first career MLB home run.
— Devers cut the Indians’ lead to 4-2 in the sixth inning when he crushed his 18th round-tripper of the season.
— The Red Sox made a whole lot of noise in the seventh. Brock Holt kicked things off with a one-out single followed by a base knock from Blake Swihart. After both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch, Travis tied the game at 4-4 with a two-run double.
Travis proceeded to advance to third on a Sandy Leon groundout and was brought home by a sharp liner off the bat of Tzu-Wei Lin which deflected off of Indians pitcher Shane Bieber. After Lin scampered to third on a Brandon Phillips single, the visitors boosted their lead to 6-4 courtesy of a Devers RBI single.
— Lin provided the Red Sox some insurance in the ninth with his first career MLB home run.
— Holt stayed hot with a three-hit game, while Devers and Travis each notched a pair.
— J.D. Martinez and Leon were the lone Red Sox starters to go hitless.
TWEET OF THE GAME
It’s rare to see a smile from Sale on the diamond.
The Red Sox and Indians will square off in the middle game Saturday night. Rick Porcello is set to get the ball for Boston opposite Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger. First pitch from Progressive Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports