CLEVELAND -- They keep pushing forward, these Red Sox. A night after they clinched the American League East, there was rest for several key players, but no letdown from the crew that played. And as manager Alex Cora tells it, there wasn't even a letdown from the veterans who sat.And
CLEVELAND -- They keep pushing forward, these Red Sox. A night after they clinched the American League East, there was rest for several key players, but no letdown from the crew that played. And as manager Alex Cora tells it, there wasn't even a letdown from the veterans who sat.
And after another comeback victory -- this one by a score of 7-5 over the Indians -- it can now be said that no team in franchise history has won more games than the 2018 Red Sox.
Conquest No. 105 tied the 1912 club for the team record, and the magic number is down to one for Boston to clinch home-field advantage all the way through the World Series.
"That was one of the most enjoyable games of the season," said Cora. "To have, obviously those guys who didn't play, they were on the top step. It was a like a regular game. Like I said, we do feel when we play [short], we can score runs. It was a fun game overall. Good energy. I mean, it was a long night, we got here late, and for them to come here and play, that was fun."
With most of the regulars on the bench, Sam Travis and Tzu-Wei Lin belted their first career homers.
During a four-run surge in the seventh inning that completed a comeback from 4-1 down, Travis tied it with a two-run double and Lin put the Sox ahead for good on an RBI single off the foot of Indians righty Shane Bieber.
"I came up with him playing in the Minors," Travis said of Lin joining him with the first homer. "We've been real close. We were roommates on the road in the Minor Leagues. He's a good friend of mine and it makes it a lot more special."
Meanwhile, ace Chris Sale continued his ramp-up toward the postseason by throwing 73 pitches in 3 1/3 innings. The lefty walked none and struck out seven. His 35-inning scoreless streak ended when Josh Donaldson belted a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth. Sale's streak was the longest in the Majors and matched the longest since Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez also tossed 35 straight zeroes in 2002.
"Anytime you're wearing this uniform and Pedro is in the same sentence you've got to be appreciative of it. Still kind of in awe about it, but found a good way to end it," quipped Sale.
Sale's final start of the regular season will take place on Wednesday night at Fenway Park against the Orioles.
Richard Hembree came on in place of Sale and promptly served up a two-run homer to Yan Gomes.
The team's 47th comeback win of the season was helped by Rafael Devers smashing No. 18, a solo shot to right in the sixth that slimmed Cleveland's deficit to 4-2, and helping to set the stage for that big seventh.
While Cora used many of his low-leverage relievers, including a couple of September callups, he was able to close with Craig Kimbrel, who nailed down save No. 42 in the ninth.
And just like that, the Sox tied their 1912 predecessors. Fittingly, Boston tied the record in Game No. 154, which was the length of a season 106 years ago.
"It's special," said Sale. "I think that you can look back at the season and see different styles of wins and different parts of our team carrying the team at times. That's something special. That's something you don't see very often when you can have a starting rotation do it, you can have your offense do it, you can have your defense do it, you can have your bullpen come in and do it.
"And different guys stepping up at different parts of the season and winning big games for us. So we don't take it for granted. We know where we're at and we know what we have ahead of us. We're enjoying it, but at the same time, we're not going to get lackadaisical."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Great Scott: The lead could have slipped away in the eighth when Gomes doubled to right to put runners at second and third with one out. Out of the bullpen came lefty specialist Robby Scott, and he got the key second out on a foul popup by Jason Kipnis. Cora then ordered up an intentional walk to his close friend Francisco Lindor to set up bases loaded for Michael Brantley. Scott made the pitch he needed and got Brantley on a foul flyout to Travis in left.
"You see Robby coming in the game and it's kind of like we managed that inning," said Cora. "We don't walk too many people, but I'm not going to let him beat me there and then he has bragging rights. Yeah, I'm going to walk him and take a chance with Brantley with the matchup."
Barnes returns: For the first time since Sept. 3, key setup man Matt Barnes pitched for the Red Sox. The righty has been dealing with inflammation in his left hip. Barnes walked one and struck out one in a scoreless sixth inning. With Sandy Leon making a strong throw to second to nail Rajai Davis on a stolen-base attempt, Barnes needed to face just three batters.
"Getting his repetitions. Velocity was OK. Actually did a good job with Rajai at first base changing times and looks and all that. We were able to throw him out," said Cora. "That's something we expect teams to try to do against us when we have the lead and trying to something and he did a good job."
Lin became the third Taiwanese-born player in history to hit a home run, joining Chin-lung Hu (two career homers) and Hung-Chih Kuo (1).
HE SAID IT
"It's a testament of the organization, where we're at. We made some decisions in the offseason and throughout the season. It's gratifying, don't get me wrong. One hundred and five is 105, and I hope we win one more before the season is over. But from Mr. [John] Henry and Tom [Werner] all the way to [clubhouse attendant] Pookie [Jackson] and the guys in the clubhouse and the people that work here. It's been amazing. Of course, we know we have to win 11 in October -- I mean, we know where we play and we know what we expect from this -- but today, it's kind of like let's take a look at this one and enjoy it." -- Cora, on 105 wins
Right-hander Rick Porcello (17-7, 4.30 ERA) faces the Indians on Saturday in a venue he's been comfortable at throughout his career. In 12 starts at Progressive Field, Porcello is 5-3 with a 2.84 ERA. The Indians will counter with Mike Clevinger (12-8, 3.06 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.