The Boston Red Sox made “New Hampshire Day” memorable at Fenway Sunday afternoon, staging a furious 9th inning rally to overcome a 5-2 deficit and stun the Cleveland Indians 6-5. Jacoby Ellsbury delivered the key blow, a walk-off two run double that gave Boston its 10th series win in 16 tries this season, and launched the Red Sox into a first place tie in the A.L. East on the eve of Memorial Day. Boston had been held to four hits entering the 9th before the dramatic comeback. The win spoiled an impressive outing by Cleveland starter Corey Kluber.
Kluber handcuffed the Boston Red Sox on 1 run and 3 hits through 6-and-2-thirds innings Sunday afternoon, striking out a career high 10 Red Sox to help the Fenway visitors to a 5-2 lead. But his start was wasted as the Cleveland bullpen faltered against the Red Sox for the second straight game. The victory earned the Sox a 3-1 series advantage against Cleveland and closed out the Cleveland/Boston 2013 series with the Red Sox taking a 6 of seven games, including a three game sweep in Cleveland the week of April 16-17-18. Kluber and Doubront got no-decisioned on the day while Crag Breslow earned the win in relief for Boston and Cleveland closer Chris Perez took the loss for the Indians.
Cleveland drew first blood early, sandwiching a single by Michael Bourn, an error on Ellsbury in center that allowed Jason Kipnis on board and a single by Nick Swisher to load the bases surrounded by a pair of Doubront strike outs. Carlos Santana singled home two runs and was thrown out trying to stretch his hit to a double, giving the Indians an early 2-0 advantage.
Boston got a run back in the bottom of the 3rd. Stephen Drew led off the inning with a ground rule double over the right field wall, and later scored on a wall-ball single to left by Daniel Nava, thrown out to close the frame trying to stretch his single to a double. Drew’s double snapped an 0-17 slump, while Ellsbury continued his month-long funk by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play to erase a chance for a big inning by the Red Sox.
The Indians pushed the lead to 3-1 in the top of the fifth. Doubront had settled into the game nicely, striking out 7 and retiring 10 straight Indians before Jason Kipnis wrapped a line drive home run just outside the Pesky Pole. Doubront recovered to strike out his 8th Indian to close the inning on 93 pitches. However, Doubront surrendered his fifth hit of the game in the top of the 6th inning and it was costly as Nick Swisher clubbed a towering home run over the Monster and almost out of Fenway to push the Indian’s advantage to 4-1. Doubront closed out the 6th with a pitching line of: 6 IP 4R 2ER 5H 2BB 8K PC 115.
Cleveland padded the lead to 5-1 in the top of the 8th when Jason Kipnis smacked a double, followed by a single from Asdrubal Cabrera and a sacrifice from Nick Swisher, all off Boston reliever Craig Breslow.
Boston clawed back with a run in the bottom of the 8th when Stephen Drew shot a liner down into right field and scooted the bases for his third triple of the season. Jose Iglesias scored Drew with a sacrifice fly off reliever Cody Allen to make it 5-2, Indians.
Boston’s 9th inning rally started against Perez, who left with an arm injury, with a leadoff walk to Dustin Pedroia. David Ortiz followed with a double to deep center that placed Red Sox runners at 2nd and 3rd. A fielder’s choice to Mike Napoli pushed across a run to make the score 5-3. A second fielder’s choice by Jarrod Saltalamachia drew the Sox within 5-4. Jonny Gomes, pinch hitting for Saturday’s hero Mike Carp, milked Perez for a walk and a follow-up single by Stephen Drew (his 3rd hit of the day) moved Gomes to third. Jose Iglesias drew another walk to load the bases as Perex exited the game with obvious arm pain. Jacoby Ellsbury, who has struggled for a month hitting with men on base, took a 2-1 pitch from Cleveland reliever Joe Smith and drilled it into the left-center gap to score 2 and the Boston 6-5 victory dance was on.
Boston’s win pushed the Red Sox into a first place A.L. East Division tie with the Yankees, 8-3 losers Sunday to Tampa Bay.
The Red Sox will celebrate Memorial Day by playing host Monday to the Philadelphia Phillies in the first of a two-game home & home Inter-League set with the boys from the City of Brotherly Love. They close out the month of May and welcome June with a three-game road trip to the Evil Empire. Clay Buchholz draws the Memorial Day start, looking for his 8th win against no defeats.
The month of June will prove challenging for Boston. In addition to 15 games scheduled against A.L. East opponents, the Red Sox also play a combined 10 games against the likes of division contenders Detroit, Texas and the Angels. The Red Sox are currently tied with the Yankees with the second best road record in all of baseball at 15-9. The St. Louis Cardinals entered Sunday play with the best road slate in the majors at 17-8 and face the Dodgers in L.A. Sunday afternoon.
- Red Sox-Indians Live: Felix Doubront Starts As Sox Try to Make It Three in a Row Against Indians (nesn.com)
- Iglesias, Ciriaco and Carp Power Red Sox Past Indians (baseballtrashtalkin.org)