BOSTON -- Behind another commanding performance from David Price and a doubles outburst in the fifth inning, the Red Sox closed their homestand with a 7-0 win over Cleveland on Thursday afternoon, becoming the first Major League team to 90 wins this season.The Boston southpaw tossed eight scoreless innings to
BOSTON -- Behind another commanding performance from David Price and a doubles outburst in the fifth inning, the Red Sox closed their homestand with a 7-0 win over Cleveland on Thursday afternoon, becoming the first Major League team to 90 wins this season.
The Boston southpaw tossed eight scoreless innings to earn his third straight win and his seventh win over his last 10 Fenway Park starts.
With recent adjustments in his windup and location on the pitching rubber, Price looked confidently in command of his offspeed offerings and cutter early, putting the Indians lineup off balance while allowing just one hit, a Greg Allen single, through six innings.
"He expands the plate so well," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's a big tall guy and he angles it. He gets you off the plate and moves your feet and then he goes right back away. And nothing's straight. He's pretty good."
"I felt good," Price said of his start. "It all starts with fastball command; I've done that extremely well these past couple of weeks. Fastball was good, throwing a diving cutter to righties was another weapon I was able to use. It opens up a lot."
The Red Sox bats suffered a similar fate versus Cleveland starter Adam Plutko through four innings before a string of two-base hits put a six spot on the board for the hosts in the bottom of the fifth.
"He has a good fastball," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of the Indians starter. "We talk about launch angle and all that; with him spin rate was good for that kid. The ball was cutting, too. But then, second time around we did an adjustment and had good at-bats."
Sandy Leon led off the fifth inning with a ground-rule double and Blake Swihart, Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Nunez followed with two-run doubles as 11 batters came up for Boston in the frame.
With plenty of run support, Price remained in control and was aided with a pair of double plays that eliminated any late Cleveland threat, the first an unassisted effort by Bogaerts to close the seventh and then a 3-6 double play started by Swihart, who stepped on first and threw to Bogaerts to complete the play.
The Red Sox starter then struck out Roberto Perez with an emphatic 92 mph cutter to end the eighth inning, bringing the Fenway crowd to its feet.
"That's one of the best teams in the big leagues. He was outstanding today," said Cora. "The cutter, the fastball, the changeup, being able to pitch to that lineup is not easy. They've got some good hitters. He was outstanding. Probably his best start of the season."
With the win, Price improved to 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last seven starts, while improving to 7-2 with a 2.87 ERA at home this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mired in a scoreless stalemate, the Boston barrage of fifth-inning doubles proved the perfect remedy to back Price's efforts on the mound. Leon's leadoff ground-rule double to right field set the table for the big inning. After getting runners on first and second with one out, the Red Sox saw six straight batters reach base, as Swihart opened the scoring with a scorched two-run double to right field that Statcast™ clocked as having a 106.2 mph exit velocity.
An intentional walk to J.D. Martinez and a two-run double by Bogaerts followed and served to run Plutko from the game. Then Indians reliever Adam Cimber initially walked Brock Holt before serving up the third two-run double of the inning, this to Nunez.
Price leads the American League with a 1.09 ERA since the All-Star break. In that time, he has allowed five runs over 41 1/3 innings over six starts. Boston has won 16 of the last 18 starts he has made.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the top of the sixth inning, Perez led things off for the Indians with a bouncer back to Price that the Red Sox pitcher knocked down and behind him with his glove. The left-hander picked up the ball behind the mound and fired a low throw to first base. Swihart, who had come on to replace injured first baseman Mitch Moreland in the first inning, backhanded the throw in the dirt, but the ball bounced off his glove. However, the Boston utility man kept his eyes on the ball and snatched it out of the air with his bare hand to make the out in time.
"I haven't been there a lot lately," said Swihart, who was making just his eighth career appearance at the position. "I've just been catching. I just not tried to do too much, thinking to myself, 'If I have to, drop and block like a catcher.' Anything to keep that ball in front of me."
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"For Swihart to be able to step in and get that big double with the bases loaded, and to make the plays he made at first base, that was huge for us," added Price.
HE SAID IT
"It's impressive. Hopefully, we're the first to 100, too. We'll just keep going and keep having fun." -- Swihart, on the Red Sox being first to 90 wins in the Majors
The Red Sox will head to Tampa Bay to take on their American League East rivals in a three-game Players' Weekend series. Right-hander Hector Velazquez gets his second straight spot start in the 7:10 p.m. ET series opener Friday, having picked up his first loss of the season against the Rays last Sunday. His last start at Tropicana Field resulted in a win back on April 1 when Velazquez scattered five hits over 5 2/3 innings. Right-hander Diego Castillo is scheduled to start for the Rays. It will be his second start this season; the first was on Sunday at Fenway Park, where he allowed a hit in 1 2/3 innings. He's also made 29 relief appearances in 2018.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.