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After rallying in eighth, Sox fall in extra innings

Magic number for home field throughout playoffs still one
September 23, 2018

CLEVELAND -- The Red Sox will have to wait at least one more night to establish a club record for victories in a season.Manager Alex Cora's team was left stuck at 105 after getting walked off, 5-4, by the Indians in 11 innings on Saturday night at Progressive Field.Michael Brantley

CLEVELAND -- The Red Sox will have to wait at least one more night to establish a club record for victories in a season.
Manager Alex Cora's team was left stuck at 105 after getting walked off, 5-4, by the Indians in 11 innings on Saturday night at Progressive Field.
Michael Brantley clubbed a walk-off single to deep left against losing pitcher Thomas Pomeranz to end it.

The Sox's magic number also remained at one for clinching home field throughout the playoffs when the Astros came storming back to beat the Angels, 10-5.
The winning rally started when Pomeranz gave up an infield single to Yan Gomes and then a hard single to left by Greg Allen, putting runners at first and second with nobody out. The Indians then executed a double steal, leading Cora to issue an intentional walk to Francisco Lindor to load the bases.

Brantley smashed Pomeranz's 1-1 curve to a patch of grass over Andrew Benintendi's head to send everybody home.
"That last pitch to Brantley, breaking ball up in the zone," said Cora. "He's been able to stay inside balls and go the other way, and they stole second and third. We have to load the bases there and try to get a forceout at the plate. Just one of those outings, you know? Turn the page and let's see what happens tomorrow."

For Pomeranz, who was Boston's No. 2 starter in 2017, this season continues to be a humbling experience. The lefty is now 2-6 with a 6.37 ERA after not retiring any of the four batters he faced in this one.
Even in defeat, the Sox once again proved they are never out of a game. Trailing, 4-2, in the eighth, Mitch Moreland went to the opposite field for a single to left against Andrew Miller. With two outs, Indians manager Terry Francona went to his other stud lefty in Brad Hand. Jackie Bradley Jr. greeted him with a double to left-center to put runners at second and third with two outs.

Up stepped Benintendi, and he raked a game-tying, two-run single to left. Benintendi did get thrown out at second on the play to end the inning.
"Good [at-bats]. Good ones," said Cora. "That's good. I mean, those guys, they're tough. Miller with the fastball and the slider. I think we hung in there with them. Then with Hand, Jackie and Benny put good swings on him, not trying to pull him, going the other way. That's good. To see those guys, you never know. We might face them later on in October, so it's good to face them and also good to be successful."

Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello wasn't at his sharpest in this one, allowing eight hits and four runs (three earned) over five innings while walking two and striking out a season-low of one.

"I never really got into a groove," said Porcello. "I felt like I was behind in a couple of counts, and just one of those things. They did a nice job getting hits in timely situations, but overall, I want to start to make the adjustments I need to make and move forward."
Rafael Devers belted his 19th homer of the year in the third and Blake Swihart smashed his second dinger in the fourth. Both blasts came off Indians righty Mike Clevinger, who allowed three hits and two runs in his five innings.
Devers heating up: With Eduardo Nunez out of the mix this weekend with left hamstring woes, Devers is capitalizing on more playing time. His homer had an exit velocity of 100 mph and a projected distance of 392 feet, according to Statcast™. Devers has seven hits in his last 21 at-bats and is starting to look more like the player who was a frequent threat for the Sox down the stretch last season.

"Yeah, no big changes," said Devers. "Just kind of closed up a little bit in my stance, but swing is still the same. The reason for doing that was I was opening up a bit too quickly. With the change in my stance, I feel like I can see the ball better and keep the ball in play when I do make contact."
Benintendi is hitting .331 with runners in scoring position this season and .340 in his career. He's notched 63 of his 81 RBIs this season with runners in scoring position.
"I've learned a lot from my teammates, from the coaches around me, just learning that every team is going to treat you differently wherever you go, and I guess I was naive in thinking before that you just come to the park and you play ball. You realize pretty quickly that teams and pitchers are going to treat you differently everywhere you go. It's just all a learning process." -- Devers
After getting the last couple of days off, superstar Mookie Betts is expected back in the leadoff spot for the Red Sox for Sunday night's series finale. The only question is whether he returns to right field or is the designated hitter. Betts had a minor injury to his left side last weekend and hasn't played right since Sept. 16. He remains a top candidate to win the American League's Most Valuable Player Award. Righty Hector Velazquez will again come in from the bullpen and make his eighth start of the season. The Indians will counter with righty Adam Plutko, and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.