BOSTON -- The raucous environment inside Fenway Park can rattle untested rookies. For the Indians, manager Terry Francona has raved all year about Greg Allen's maturity and compared Shane Bieber's poise to that of ace Corey Kluber.The rooks hardly looked intimidated in Tuesday's 6-3 victory. Allen dropped jaws with two
BOSTON -- The raucous environment inside Fenway Park can rattle untested rookies. For the Indians, manager Terry Francona has raved all year about Greg Allen's maturity and compared Shane Bieber's poise to that of ace Corey Kluber.
The rooks hardly looked intimidated in Tuesday's 6-3 victory. Allen dropped jaws with two stellar catches in center field -- one that helped halt a Red Sox rally in the seventh -- and continued his hot hitting at the plate. Bieber meanwhile cruised through Boston's daunting lineup, only encountering trouble in his final frame.
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"I think they're enjoying themselves," Francona said. "That's the idea. You hope the guys embrace it, and they certainly seem to be doing that. It's been fun watching them. This is great experience for them. And to see them, like I said, embrace it, makes you feel good."
Combined with a couple of well-timed home runs by Melky Cabrera and Yan Gomes, the result was a 14th win in 17 games for the American League Central-leading Indians (73-52). If this series is indeed a preview of what October will have to offer, the edges of seats throughout Boston and Cleveland will be sufficiently worn out.
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Allen has been an electric addition to the bottom of the Tribe's order -- filling in admirably for a sidelined Leonys Martin -- but he really stunned the Fenway faithful in the seventh.
"He does it night after night," Bieber said. "It's incredible."
With no outs and runners on second and third, Mitch Moreland crushed a pitch from Bieber to the ballpark's famous triangle in deep center. As the Boston crowd roared in anticipation of an extra-base hit, Allen chased down the liner, reached back and snared the baseball, shifting into a slide on the warning track as the cheers morphed into groans.
Allen said Fenway's spacious dimensions in center helped him pull off the play.
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"The way this field plays, fortunately, you have some room to run out there, especially as it gets out to deep center," Allen said. "I was fortunate to be able to get back there and put a glove on it."
According to Statcast™, Allen had to cover 103 feet in 5.5 seconds to haul in the deep line drive, which had an exit velocity of 102.8 mph and a hit probability of 91 percent. J.D. Martinez was able to tag and score on the play to cut Cleveland's lead to 5-2, but the out was a crucial blow to Boston's comeback.
"If that falls," Francona said, "all of a sudden there's a lot of runners on and not a lot of outs. So that was a big play."
The Red Sox scored one more run in the inning, but a homer by Gomes gave the Tribe some important insurance. At the plate, Allen did his part as well, going 2-for-3 with a run-scoring double that extended his hitting streak to 14 games. That marks the longest streak this season by an MLB rookie.
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Allen, who belted a key home run in Monday's 5-4 win over Boston, also showed off his defensive skills in center in the fifth. Xander Bogaerts led off by drilling a pitch to center, where Allen tracked the ball and made a lunging catch, ending with him slamming into the padded wall and tumbling to the dirt.
While Allen winced from the ground, Bieber grinned and pounded his glove in approval.
That catch hurt more than the one in the seventh.
"Just a little bit, yeah," Allen said with a laugh.
Making his first career start in Boston, the 23-year-old Bieber was perfect through his first 10 batters faced and allowed just two hits through six shutout innings. The Red Sox opened their three-run seventh with three straight hits, but Allen's highlight-reel grab quashed Boston's momentum.
"It was really cool going out there," Bieber said, "and feeling the atmosphere and pitching in a place like Fenway that has so much history. I tried to soak it in as much as I could, but once I had to throw that first pitch, I tried to treat it like any other game and go out there and compete."
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As blown away as Bieber was with Allen's catches, the center fielder was equally as impressed in the young pitcher.
"He did awesome," Allen said. "Coming into this environment with a team like that up against you, it'd be easy for a guy, especially for a young guy that hasn't been in a situation like that before, to come unhinged a little bit or to get out of character. But he did the opposite. He remained poised, composed, gave us a solid outing."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Melk Man delivers: Cabrera belted a grand slam on Sunday in Cleveland. The veteran outfielder ignited an Indians comeback with a solo shot in Monday's win over the Red Sox. For his latest heroics, Cabrera capped off a three-hit showing Tuesday with a solo blast off Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi in the sixth. Over his past nine games, the Tribe right fielder has hit .424/.424/.909 with five homers and 14 RBIs.
"I really haven't changed anything," Cabrera said through team interpreter Will Clements. "I just keep working hard every single day. I'm putting in the work in the cage, working hard and, like I've always said, it's really just the opportunity that the manager has given me to play every single day. That really makes the difference." More >
Two-out onslaught: Eovaldi was off to a strong start in the fourth inning, when he retired Yandy Diaz and Yonder Alonso. With two outs, though, Cleveland went on the attack. Cabrera and Jason Kipnis got things rolling with back-to-back singles and then Gomes came through with an RBI base hit of his own. Allen then slashed a pitch to left for a two-out RBI double to extend his hitting streak. Combined, the Nos. 6-9 hitters in the Indians' order went 9-for-16 with four extra-base hits, four runs and four RBIs.
"Gomer and Melky and Greg," Francona said. "That was big, because there's not a lot of nights when we score six where [Jose Ramirez] and [Francisco Lindor] don't do anything. So it's nice to get some contributions like that."
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A quick tag and a Red Sox challenge halted a Tribe rally in the sixth. With two outs, Michael Brantley delivered an RBI single to center and tried to advance to second on Boston's relay to the plate. Catcher Sandy Leon made a strong throw to Bogaerts, who applied the tag and began sprinting off the field in celebration of the out. Brantley was deemed safe initially, but that call was overturned following a replay review, ending the inning.
Bieber ended Tuesday's start with zero walks, marking his 13th straight start with two walks or fewer. According to the Indians, that is the longest such streak to begin a career by a Cleveland pitcher, dating back to 1908.
HE SAID IT
"That dude is like a ball hog out there. He wants everything. He had a deal with Brantley. Then he had a deal with [Brandon] Guyer. It's good to see that out of your center fielder. We've had some good ones out there and seeing him go out there and take control is good to see." --Gomes, on Allen
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (15-6, 3.33 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Tribe on Wednesday, when the Red Sox host the Indians at 7:10 p.m. ET at Fenway Park in a game that can be viewed free on MLB.TV. In his past 12 appearances, Carrasco has gone 9-2 with a 2.00 ERA, 88 strikeouts and nine walks in 67 1/3 innings. Boston will counter with righty Christopher Johnson (4-3, 4.00 ERA).
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.