Indians pitching triumphs over the Red Sox offense
Bobby Valentine sure has a lot of confidence in his team. Even with a streak of 13-20 since July 1, he claims his Red Sox are still a playoff team. Is anyone even listening at this point? In the first of a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians, the Sox lost yet another game, 5-3, after failing to sustain an early lead.
After Cleveland took an early 1-0 lead thanks to a solo home run in the first inning, the Sox seized an offensive jump in the fourth and fifth innings when Adrian Gonzalez punched out a two-run home run in the fourth. A single from Dustin Pedroia sent the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury home from second base in the fifth to help the Sox to a 3-1 lead.
But the lead didn’t last long. Starter Felix Doubront gave up three hits and walked two to allow the Indians to tie the game at 3-3 before being relieved by Andrew Miller, who gave up a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth to give the Indians a 4-3 lead.
Pedro Ciriaco started at second base in place of Pedroia (who was the DH) and reignited some positivity with a double to right field in the seventh inning against Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. With the Sox behind by one run, Indians lefthanded reliever Tony Sipp then struck out Ellsbury. Ciriaco made a mad dash for third base on a grounder by left fielder Carl Crawford, but Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera scooped it up to make the out.
With Crawford watching the whole thing go down, he hesitated rounding first trying to tag up on second -which resulted in a double-play that ended the inning.
Will Middlebrooks was busted on a fly ball and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out against the Indians’ Vinnie Pestano in the eighth and ended any chance the two runners on had left to score.
-The Sox know they need to win. With upcoming away games against the Orioles and Yankees, the Wild Card race is getting even wilder since the Sox will be facing the top competition in the AL East.
-If you consider it a bright spot, manager Valentine seems to have an endless amount of faith in his team. At least they know their coach is behind them, even though they’ve only won two out of the last nine games.
-The Sox starting pitching continues to struggle. Thursday’s starter Doubront is now 10-6 with the loss which rounds out a 5.62 staff ERA over the last 19 games. They need to find their pitching groove and maintain it if they’re serious about becoming playoff contenders.
– The Sox have just started their ten-game road trip against Cleveland, Baltimore and New York. Designated hitter David Ortiz, out since July 18th with injuries, is rumored to return on Sunday. Pitcher Clay Buchholz will start in Friday’s game. If Boston can squeeze out a little more offensively, they might be able to keep up with the big boys.