Game 127: Cleveland Indians at Red Sox (August 21, 2018)

Baseball can sure be frustrating sometimes. In the first game of this series the Red Sox jumped all over Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, but couldn't hold the lead and blew the game. In this second game, they were up against rookie Shane Bieber and looked to bounce back and even the series. Nathan Eovaldi was on the mound for Boston and all eyes were on him to recapture the form of his first two Red Sox starts and not the most recent two. As I said in the opening sentence, though, this can be a frustrating game and that was perhaps never more evident this season than in this tilt.

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This was a scoreless game until the fourth when the Indians broke through against Eovaldi. Yan Gomes singled in a run which was followed by a Greg Allen double to drive in another. At that point it was 2-0 Cleveland and it seemed only a matter of time before Boston would break through and answer, but Bieber kept them off balance all night and only allowed two hits through the first six innings. Melky Cabrera (again?) hit a solo shot in the sixth to make it 3-0 Cleveland and that was it for Eovaldi's night. Joe Kelly came on in relief and surrendered a run on a Michael Brantley single that also ended the inning. Brantley's hit was corralled by Jackie Bradley who threw home to try and get Gomes out at the plate. Gomes scored but Sandy Leon threw it down to second where Xander Bogaerts was able to tag Brantley out trying to stretch his hit into a double. That ended the inning but made it 4-0 and the Indians added to their lead in the seventh off of Yonder Alonso's sacrifice fly. Finally, in the seventh the Sox broke through against Bieber by putting the first two men on. Andrew Benintendi doubled followed by JD Martinez' single. With runners on the corners, Xander hit a double to drive Benintendi in and move JD to third. It looked like the Sox were poised for a big inning especially when Mitch Moreland launched a ball to center field, but Allen made a great catch that turned a surefire 2 RBI double into a sac fly. Bogaerts scored on Ian Kinsler's fielder's choice and the Sox ended the inning with three runs, but it just felt like Cleveland got away with less damage than they should've. Gomes hit a solo homer in the eighth to make it 6-3 and Boston went quietly in the final two innings (although it got a little interesting in the ninth when Jason Kipnis botched the easy third out by letting a routine pop fly hit the ground next to him). Like I said earlier, frustrating.

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Eovaldi wasn't very good, surrendering ten hits and four runs while only striking out two and walking one. However, what was absolutely inexcusable was allowing a rookie pitcher to completely stymie them. Cleveland outhit the Sox 13-5 and until the seventh inning, Boston only had two hits. Their five total in the game came off the bats of four players: Benintendi had two while JD, Xander, and Eduardo Nunez each had one. I can see getting shut down by a guy like Kluber, but Bieber? It's the first time the Sox have lost three games in a row all season and in those three losses, there's been a sudden drop in scoring. It's especially troubling since Cleveland is a good team and a lock to make the postseason given the horrifically bad division they're in. It won't get any easier in the third game of this series when Brian Johnson will get the start against Carlos Carrasco. The Sox need to get a split in this series...anything less, especially at home, would be an unacceptable disaster (not to mention fuel for obnoxious Yankees fans who laughably insist "the Red Sox can't beat good teams"). This current skid may be the biggest adversity they've faced all season so it will be very interesting to see how Alex Cora rallies the team and guides them through it into the final month of the season. 

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