BOSTON -- The noise returned to Fenway Park on Wednesday night. The Red Sox as you've known them for most of the summer reappeared en route to an impressive 10-4 victory over the Indians.The Boston bats had been unusually quiet in a three-game losing streak (its first since April) leading
BOSTON -- The noise returned to Fenway Park on Wednesday night. The Red Sox as you've known them for most of the summer reappeared en route to an impressive 10-4 victory over the Indians.
The Boston bats had been unusually quiet in a three-game losing streak (its first since April) leading into this game.
But the best offense in the American League in most key categories came back to life.
Xander Bogaerts led the charge with a two-homer night. Mitch Moreland, who had been slumping, added a two-run homer. J.D. Martinez had two hits and two more RBIs to raise his league-leading total to 108. Ian Kinsler and Jackie Bradley Jr. added two-hit performances.
"It was good," said manager Alex Cora. "We put the ball in play. A little bit more aggressive on first pitches. Obviously hitting the ball out of the ballpark is always good. Xander, he drove the ball to left-center and the second one [to the opposite field], that was good to see. We struggled during the week but that's more like us."
The resurgence started during a furious five-run rally in the bottom of the fourth inning that knocked talented Indians righty Carlos Carrasco right out of the game.
"They're really good hitters," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "They use the whole field. That's part of what they do. You've got to make them at least think about in, because they just cover too much. He was trying to. He just couldn't get it there."
While improving their record to an MLB-best 89-39, the Red Sox pulled off one of their most meaningful wins of the season while remaining the only team in the Majors without a losing streak of four games or more this season.
"I think it was kind of due for us to be who we are, especially a lot of guys on our team that was due for some big hits," said Bogaerts. "Mitch's home run was huge. He was due for one of those."
Though Cora's team has a comfortable lead in the AL East, a third straight loss to the Indians (a potential playoff opponent) would not have been a good look. Now, Boston is in position to salvage a split of the four-game series behind left-hander David Price on Thursday.
"We've got a chance to not lose the series tomorrow," said Cora. "That's one of our goals, win series. If not, two-game series are tough to win and four-game series are tough. We talk about the Houston series, we lost the first two and then we came back and bounced back, so this was a good win."
The Indians were paced by Edwin Encarnacion, who returned from the disabled list in strong fashion by belting two homers. In fact, Encarnacion delivered an early salvo by belting a two-run homer over the Monster against Christopher Johnson in the top of the first.
Down 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth, the big rally started in loud fashion for the Red Sox. Bogaerts pummeled a towering solo shot that went over everything in left and onto Lansdowne Street. The Red Sox didn't have any homers during the losing streak. The shot by Bogaerts, No. 18 of the season, traveled a projected distance of 423 feet.
"Like I told you guys, he's a special player," Cora said. "I was telling somebody, he looks bigger lately, like, stronger. He's been taking good swings."
After Kinsler and Brock Holt singled to put runners at the corners with one out, Blake Swihart came through with an RBI single to give the Red Sox their first lead since the fifth inning Monday night.
Andrew Benintendi raised the decibel level at Fenway considerably when he went the other away for a three-run double into the corner in left that made it 6-2, Boston. At that point, Francona came out to give Carrasco the hook. Such an outburst by the Red Sox was particularly impressive against Carrasco, who had a 2.00 ERA in his previous 12 appearances.
Johnson battled for 4 1/3 innings (five hits, three runs) before turning it over to the bullpen, and five relievers took it home. Matt Barnes was credited with the win that Johnson was two outs shy of qualifying for.
"The team wins, and at the end of the day that's all that matters," Johnson said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With two on and one out in the top of the fourth, Johnson knew he would be putting his team in a tough spot if the Indians were able to add on to their lead. So the lefty got tough when he had to and struck out Greg Allen and Erik Gonzalez on fastballs. Johnson pumped his fist when he walked off the mound following the third out.
"I thought it could have been a momentum swing if they got some runs and pull away a little bit, so it was good to get out of that," said Johnson.
The Red Sox are the 19th team in MLB's modern era (1900-present) to win at least 89 of their first 128 games. Of the previous 18, 17 went on to win their league pennant and nine won the World Series.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Yan Gomes was thinking double when he hit one off the wall in center with one out in the sixth. But Bradley had other ideas. The center fielder played the carom perfectly and came up throwing with a laser to second baseman Kinsler, who slapped down the tag for the out. It was the latest highlight-reel play for Bradley, who has eight assists in what has been a Gold Glove-caliber season.
"I just played it off the wall and tried to make an accurate throw," said Bradley. "I knew it was going to be a close play, especially since he hit the ball pretty hard off the wall. But I just tried to be accurate and make sure my footwork was right and happened to make a good play."
HE SAID IT
"I think the eating has helped with that. I've been eating pretty good. Not healthy, but a lot. And just trying to, as the season gets longer, don't try to lose weight and lose some of that strength as opposed to other years. But, no, I feel like I'm getting fat, I do. So I got to hopefully go on a diet some time. Because I don't feel like me." -- Bogaerts, when told that Cora said he looked bigger and stronger
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
When Encarnacion hit a crisp grounder to third, Holt bobbled the ball, then made a high throw to second, and Jose Ramirez was safe. Encarnacion was originally called safe at first also as first-base umpire Gerry Davis ruled that he beat the throw by Kinsler. But Cora issued a challenge, and was rewarded, as Encarnacion was ruled out on a play that was scored 5-4-3.
Price (13-6, 3.69 ERA) draws the finale of this four-game showdown against the Indians on Thursday. Price is on perhaps the best run of his Red Sox career, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last six starts. The Indians could be a good opponent for Price to continue his success against. Price is 10-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 14 career starts against Cleveland. The Indians counter with righty Adam Plutko (4-3, 4.62). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.