CLEVELAND -- In what could be a preview of an American League postseason series, the Indians took the first round against the Red Sox. Cleveland mounted a late rally on Monday night, culminating in a bunt and a throwing error that delivered a 5-4 win in walk-off fashion at Progressive Field.
"We relied on everybody," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. "Boston, they have a great team over there. Tonight's game was kind of like a playoff game and I think everybody knows [this is] a big series."
With Brandon Guyer on second base and no outs, Perez dropped down a sacrifice bunt, which was gloved by Red Sox first baseman Brock Holt. After hesitating, Holt threw wildly to third and the ball skipped away into foul ground, giving Guyer plenty of time to hustle home for the winning, fireworks-producing run.
"Just a routine play, just couldn't get it out of the glove," said Holt. "Fumbled it a little bit and then tried to rush the throw, made a bad one. I mean it's a pretty helpless [feeling]. I threw it and saw it get by and saw Guyer running home. So, you walk off the field, shower up and get ready to go tomorrow."
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As Guyer slid into third, he saw the ball get by third baseman Rafael Devers.
"'Berto getting the bunt down there, I just put my head down and ran," Guyer said. " I didn't know if he was going to throw it to third or not. I don't even know if a good throw would've had me or not -- I'd have to see the replay."
The Indians' fifth walk-off win of the season pushed them ahead of the second-place Twins by 5 1/2 games in the American League Central. The AL East-leading Red Sox saw their lead over the Yankees trimmed to 4 1/2 games with the loss.
Andrew Benintendi (No. 18 on the season) and Hanley Ramirez (No. 19) each delivered a two-run homer off Tribe starter Mike Clevinger, who lasted 4 1/3 innings, but avoided a loss thanks to a late Indians rally. In the eighth, Edwin Encarnacion connected for an RBI single off reliever Richard Hembree to pull the game into a 4-4 deadlock.
Eduardo Rodriguez picked up a no-decision after allowing three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings. The left-hander surrendered a three-run homer to Perez, but then held Cleveland to a 1-for-14 showing the rest of the way.
"Just one bad pitch. The changeup was right in the middle and he hit a homer," Rodriguez said. "I was able to command the pitches almost the whole time. Just one pitch in that inning and it was a homer."
The Indians were dealt a blow in the seventh, when relief ace Andrew Miller exited after seven pitches after he re-aggravated a right knee injury. The lefty walked Mookie Betts and then headed off the field in discomfort after one pitch to Benintendi. Miller will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
"We'll go back to the drawing board," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's not what we were hoping for, but we'll let the medical people put their heads together and see what they can do."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Otero to the rescue: After logging two innings on Sunday, Tribe reliever Dan Otero was asked to take over after Miller's unexpected exit. In the seventh, Otero generated three outs between two ground balls, with the help of a stellar 6-4-3 double play started by shortstop Francisco Lindor. Otero then set Boston down in order in the eighth to help give the Indians' offense time to mount its comeback.
"It shows who we are as a team," Miller said. "We've been able to say that a lot this year and certainly lately. I put Otero in a really tough spot. I think a lot of times it's underappreciated how tough that is when you've got to come in and warm up on the field and be in a situation like that."
Dynamic defense: At the start of the ninth, Christian Vazquez drilled a pitch from Tribe closer Cody Allen off the wall in center, but Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer fired the ball in quickly to hold him to a single. Three batters later, Lindor punctuated the frame with a highlight-reel catch. Betts flared a ball into shallow center, where Lindor tracked it down on a dead sprint for the final out. Lindor, who pumped his fist after the grab, covered 66 feet in 3.9 seconds, per Statcast™.
"Those are kind of game-savers there," Allen said. "You put them together, because if Zim doesn't keep the guy at first base, the next ball, he probably tags and goes to third on and you're looking at third and one out. Don't overlook that play. But yeah, that's an unbelievable play [by Lindor]. I think we get so used to watching Frankie make highlight plays like that. There's a reason why he's got platinum on his glove."
WENDELSTEDT LEAVES GAME
An odd situation arose in the sixth, when Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly fired an errant warmup pitch that struck home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt in the mask. After being checked by a member of the Indians' medical staff, Wendelstedt stayed in the game for one more batter. Between the sixth and seventh, though, Alan Porter took over behind the plate and the umpiring crew went with a three-man alignment for the remainder of the night.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With one out in the fifth, Betts was originally called out when he tried to steal second. But Farrell challenged, and the call was overturned, giving Betts his 18th stolen base of the season. That became significant when Ramirez followed by belting a two-run homer to left to give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead.
Red Sox: Right-hander Doug Fister (2-6, 5.56 ERA) makes his third start against the Indians since July 31 on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Fister pitched well the first time for the win, struggled the second time for the loss and will now try to take the rubber match. In nine career starts at Progressive Field, Fister is 1-2 with a 4.31 ERA.
Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (12-5, 3.76 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe in a 7:10 p.m. ET clash with the Red Sox on Tuesday at Progressive Field. In 10 home starts this year, Carrasco is 3-3 with a 4.80 ERA.
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