BOSTON -- The mini rut that the Red Sox impressively avoided for four months is finally here. With the bats silenced for much of Tuesday night and the pitching showing some cracks against a tough lineup, Boston took a 6-3 loss to the Indians.That's three losses in a row for
BOSTON -- The mini rut that the Red Sox impressively avoided for four months is finally here. With the bats silenced for much of Tuesday night and the pitching showing some cracks against a tough lineup, Boston took a 6-3 loss to the Indians.
That's three losses in a row for the Sox, matching their longest losing streak of the season from April 21-24.
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"We're not swinging the bat well right now," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "Since [Tyler] Glasnow [with the Rays] on Saturday. He did a good job, then the bullpen game on Sunday. And now these guys.
"It seemed like [Monday] we were waking up early and then they did a good job. Today we weren't able to get something going until that inning. We'll come back tomorrow and look for pitches in the middle of the zone and try to hit it in the air and hopefully they go out of the ballpark."
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It comes at an inopportune time when the playoff-bound Indians are in town, and the Red Sox were looking for a strong showing against a team they could meet in October. Cora's team can still salvage a split of this four-game showdown by winning the next two.
The 88-39 Sox still hold the best record in MLB by a wide margin and have an eight-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East.
"It's just been three games," said Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts. "We've done great this year. We're still in first. Gotta keep that in mind."
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Nathan Eovaldi didn't have his best stuff in this one, yielding 10 hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
For the Indians, rookie righty Shane Bieber was impressive, holding Boston to five hits and three runs over 6 1/3 innings.
"Poised and controlled," said Cora. "He did a good job. He used the outside part of the plate right away against our right-handed hitters."
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Nearly silent for the first six innings and down 5-0, the Sox finally got the bats going in the seventh. Andrew Benintendi started it with a double and J.D. Martinez belted a single. Xander Bogaerts put Boston on the board with a hustle RBI double down the third-base line. Mitch Moreland's sacrifice fly made it a 5-2 game. Ian Kinsler's fielder's-choice RBI slimmed the deficit to just two runs.
But Tyler Thornburg gave the Indians a run right back when he served up a solo homer to Yan Gomes in the eighth. It turns out that was a great piece of hitting by Gomes, who golfed it over the Monster. According to Statcast™, the pitch was 0.98 feet off the ground. That's the lowest pitch hit for a dinger this season.
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Andrew Miller and Brad Hand, as tough a lefty duo as you will find in the game, stifled the Sox over the final two innings.
"Their bullpen? They're good," said Cora. "It's hard to match up with them. They've got the three lefties. They've got [Cody] Allen, and a side-armer [in Adam Cimber], so it's a tough bullpen to match up with. They're strike-throwers with good stuff."
The Indians have come into Boston and done what they needed to. Now it's up to the Red Sox to make sure this rare skid is a short one.
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"Oh, I don't know [about the Red Sox]," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "We just wanted to win tonight. I don't care about that stuff. They're a really good team and we played a good game tonight. Now, we're going to try to come play a better game tomorrow."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Allen robs Moreland: Finally in the midst of a promising rally, Moreland was about to send Fenway Park into a frenzy when he ripped one to deep center that seemed to have extra bases written all over it. But Greg Allen quieted the crowd with a tremendous sliding catch, in which the Indians gladly took the out while relinquishing a run on the sacrifice fly. From there, the Tribe took back the momentum.
"The Moreland one was at a point in the game where, if that falls, all of a sudden there's a lot of runners on and not a lot of outs," said Francona. "So that was a big play."
Martinez has 302 total bases. The only other Red Sox players who mustered 300-plus total bases in the first 127 games? Jimmie Foxx (1938-39), Ted Williams ('49), Jim Rice (1977-79) and David Ortiz (2006).
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In the top of the second, Moreland made a play that should support his candidacy for a second Gold Glove Award. Jason Kipnis hit a bullet that Moreland made a tremendous stab of on a short hop. He then fired home to nail Yandy Diaz at the plate, with catcher Sandy Leon slapping down the tag. According to Statcast™, Kipnis had a hit probability of 53 percent.
HE SAID IT
"It's baseball. It happens. Baseball's been mighty kind to us the first few months. We've hit a little bit of a skid, but we're battling through it. We'll be fine. We've got a really good team. Stuff like this happens in baseball. You can't win 'em all. Right now, we're not firing on all cylinders. It happens. We're not panicking. Tomorrow is a new day. We can still split this series. We've got two games left. We'll just keep playing our game. We're fine." -- Steve Pearce, on Boston's rare losing streak
Lefty Christopher Johnson continues to keep the Red Sox in every game he pitches in the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Johnson, who faces the Indians in Game 3 of this four-game series on Wednesday, held the Rays to five hits and three runs in a win in his last start. Johnson is 4-1 with a 3.40 ERA in his nine starts. The Indians counter with righty Carlos Carrasco (15-6, 3.33 ERA). The game can be seen for free on MLB.TV, and first pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.