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It’s never good to go into a series with the feeling of needing a sweep. But with the ups and downs of the Boston Red Sox and a four-game series in Cleveland against the Indians, who recently lost 11 games in a row, the expectations were reasonable to have Boston easily take the series and gain some momentum. Any hope of that possibility was wiped away on Thursday night as Boston fell 5-3 to Cleveland, putting the team 11.0 games back in the American League East with a 55-58 record.
There were problems all around, but they began with Sox starter Felix Doubront who was unable to get out of the fifth inning. In 4.1 innings, Doubront allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out four. He allowed a leadoff home run to begin the game to Jason Donald, who had just been called up from the minor leagues.
The Red Sox gave Doubront a lead after a two-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez in the top of the fourth. It was Gonzalez’s 12th home run of the season, scoring Dustin Pedroia, who added an RBI base hit in the fifth to extend the temporary lead to 3-1, with all three runs being charged in Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez.
Doubront gave it right back in the bottom half though, allowing an RBI double to Asdrubal Cabrera and a bases loaded RBI single to Carlos Santana to tie the game. With the bases still loaded, Doubront was pulled in favor of reliever Andrew Miller, who surrendered a sacrifice fly which was charged to the starter before getting out of the jam, Cleveland now leading 4-3.
The former ace of the Colorado Rockies hasn’t been nearly the same pitcher since the trade sent him to Cleveland, but Jimenez looked like a shadow of his former self on Thursday night. The pitcher came into the game with an ERA over 5.00 and the most walks allowed in the American League, yet the Sox only drew one on the night.
In the second and sixth innings the inability of Boston to grind out at bats was on full display. Jimenez struck out the side in order on just 14 pitches in each frame, managing to strike out 10 hitters in his six innings of work.
In the top of the seventh Boston had a chance to rally, trailing 4-3 but with the tying run on second base after a leadoff double by Pedro Ciriaco, the last batter Jimenez would face. After reliever Tony Sipp struck out Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford hit a ground ball to shortstop.
While Ciriaco has been a big success in limited time in his role with the Red Sox, he committed a big mistake here by taking off for third on the ball hit by Crawford. The Indians defense got him into a rundown and eventually tagged him out, then making the mistake even more costly by throwing to second to get Crawford who was attempting to advance, an unconventional double play to end the inning.
Cleveland tacked on an insurance run in the eighth before closing out the win. Boston loses the opener of their crucial 10-game road trip, a journey which could prove them to be completely out of the playoff race should they significantly slide.
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Andrew Miller, Asdrubal Cabrera, Boston Red Sox, Carlos Santana, Chris Seddon, Clay Buchholz, Cleveland Indians, Dustin Pedroia, Felix Doubront, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Donald, pedro ciriaco, Ubaldo Jimenez