Game 129: Cleveland Indians at Red Sox (August 23, 2018)

The series with Cleveland wrapped up with a midweek afternoon game pitting starters David Price and Adam Pultko. With the sudden awakening of their bats from their recent slumber, the Red Sox pounded out ten runs on Wednesday night and looked to carry over that momentum into the finale. With memories of the ALDS sweep at the hands of the Indians in 2016 and the potential to face them again this October, it would go a long way toward establishing some confidence (and quieting naysayers) if the Sox could salvage a split before the next time they meet.

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It was a scoreless pitcher's duel until the bottom of the fifth when the Red Sox finally broke through and got to Plutko. To that point there had only been three hits total in the game between the two teams, but Boston got the inning off to a good start when Sandy Leon led off with a double.  Jackie Bradley followed with a single to give the Red Sox runners at the corners with no outs. After Mookie Betts popped up, Andrew Benintendi drew a walk to load the bases for Blake Swihart. Blake battled with Plutko before drilling a double to center field to drive in Leon and Bradley and give the Sox a 2-0 lead. JD Martinez reached to load the bases again which brought up the hottest hitter on the team, Xander Bogaerts. He chopped a double over Jose Ramirez at third base which drove in another two runs. Boston continued to bust it wide open when Eduardo Nunez' double drove in two more to make it 6-0. That chased Plutko from the game and the Sox picked up another in the sixth off of JD's RBI single. Red Sox pitching took care of the rest, with David Price throwing an absolute gem. In his eight innings of work he only gave up three hits and struck out seven without walking anyone. Tyler Thornburg worked the ninth and while things got interesting when he put the first two batters on with no outs, he induced a double play to shortstop and a pop fly to end the game and preserve the 7-0 shutout win. Offensively, the Sox outhit the Indians 12-5 and every starter except for Benintendi had at least one hit. Mookie Betts, Swihart, and Bradley all picked up two hits apiece and the relentless attack this order has when everyone is hitting was shown yet again. In particular, Bradley and Bogaerts have been crushing the ball lately which has been nice with Mookie in a little bit of a lull.
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With their 90th win of the season in the bag, a new road series begins Friday in Tampa as Hector Velazquez will make another spot start. Presumably it'll be his last one since Eduardo Rodriguez is due to come back next week after making a rehab start at AAA Pawtucket over the weekend. After that it's back home for a quick two game set against the Marlins before they're back on the road for another week and a half to begin September and the race to season's end. I'm really looking forward to the final series against the Astros, Indians, and Yankees before October. While I can't wait for the postseason, I'm not ready for this magical season to finish just yet.

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