The Red Sox backed up seven strong innings from Jon Lester with six runs against Zach McAllister and the Cleveland bullpen, completing their second straight sweep.
Each pitcher was working under some adverse conditions. The strike zone was wide, except when it wasn't, but short to match, forcing them to work up in the zone. On another night, these may have balanced out, but with the wind turning fly balls into an adventure for the outfielders, losing that bottom part of the zone took on new meaning.
Both McAllister and Lester would have some measure of success, but the difference between the two would be fly balls. The Red Sox would really get under just a few more balls than the Indians, allowing the wind to take over and resulting in some big hits. The first Boston run of the night would be thanks to one such ball--a second inning MIke Napoli fly to right that Ryan Raburn thought would die well short of the track, but instead bounced off the wall and past Raburn for a triple.
While Napoli likely have scored if Raburn hadn't turned a double into a triple, the defensive gaffe in the bottom half of the second clearly cost Lester a run. It was Pedro Ciriaco making the mistake for Boston, allowing a chopper down the third base line to get by his glove, allowing Mark Reynolds to reach second and ultimately score after a pair of productive outs.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be the next Red Sox player to strike for a run, and he did it all by himself. With two outs and a 3-2 count, McAllister left a fastball up over the plate, allowing Boston's catcher to take a big swing and put it on a line over the right field wall. This one wasn't about the wind, just Saltalamacchia's raw power shining through and making it a 2-1 Boston lead.
The Sox would score again in the fifth on hits from Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, and Dustin Pedroia, but Jon Lester surrendered a leadoff double to Mike Aviles in the bottom half of the inning, resulting in what really should have been his only earned run of the night. Lester would allow only one more hit in finishing up the sixth and seventh, adding another strong outing to his season.
Before Lester left, though, the Sox had reassured him of his victory. After pitching a scoreless sixth, former Sox farmhand Nick Hagadone surrendered a single to Jacoby Ellsbury, and was pulled from the game. His replacement, Bryan Shaw, was welcomed to the game with a defensive error from Cord Phelps at second, allowing Shane Victorino to reach as well. Dustin Pedroia wouldn't quite manage to keep the conga line going, but Mike Napoli was up to the task, taking a pitch well up and out of the zone and tapping it into right field for an RBI single. Daniel Nava added a sacrifice fly, and Mike Carp, pinch hitting for Jonny Gomes, picked up his fourth hit in four at bats by finding the hole between second and first, capping off Boston's attack with a sixth run.
The bullpen was not quite as lights out as it had been in Wednesday's game, with Andrew Miller allowing a couple of baserunners in the process of recording two outs, and Koji Uehara giving up an RBI hit before he could finish Miller's job in the eighth. That would only bring the Indians within three, however, leading John Farrell to bring in Andrew Bailey, who once again looked very much like the closer the Red Sox were hoping for last year. A perfect 1-2-3 ninth put the final touches on the night, making it two straight sweeps for Boston.
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