As has so often been the case lately, the Red Sox entered the late inning with a significant deficit to overcome, and made a strong run at overcoming it. They were just an inning early and a run short on Monday.
The deficit they faced came courtesy of an unimpressive start from John Lackey. After three straight strong starts, Lackey proved incapable of stretching his streak to four despite coming out of the gate strong with a curveball that induced more swinging strikes than Lackey may have seen all year. In fact, by the end of the night, Lackey had matched his season high with seven strikeouts. Unfortunately, as the game went on, his control completely disappeared, leading to five walks and nine hits that more than neutralized what good there was. He was pulled in the sixth with one out after walking in a run, and finished the night with six earned. Had it not been for a pair of run-saving throws from Ryan Kalish in left field, it may well have even been worse for the beleaguered Red Sox starter.
The Sox offense in the early innings had suffered from the same problems as always--a bottom of the lineup populated by backups leading to bad clutch hitting and, of course, Tim Bogar. How did they screw up? Let us count the ways:
- In the second, Bill Hall and Eric Patterson struck out back-to-back with runners on first and second.
- In the third, Tim Bogar sent Marco Scutaro home from third on a shallow fly he had no chance to score on.
- In the fifth, Bill Hall stood at the plate and watched his fly ball to left field before running down the line. He was held to a single on a ball high off the wall, setting up the inning ending double play with a runner at third.
- In the seventh, Tim Bogar sent Ryan Kalish home on a Daniel Nava single. The throw from Choo beat him by a mile, leading to a violent collision at the plate. Kalish was out, but Indians catcher Carlos Santana took the worst of it, and might be seriously injured. This for the guy I called "the future of the Indians franchise" before the series.
Only Adrian Beltre's sacrifice fly and solo homer had put the Sox on the board between all these mistakes. Still, the Sox made their typical late game run, this time in the eighth inning, as singles from Jed Lowrie (in at first for Kevin Youkilis, who left the game in the third inning with a jammed thumb) and David Ortiz set up Adrian Beltre with a RISP opportunity with two outs. Not one to disappoint this season, Beltre took a hanging curveball and crushed one of the largest home runs Fenway has seen in a while, clearing the signs on the monster with ease, and bringing the Sox within one run.
It was not to be this time, however, as the Sox could only muster two more singles in their remaining four outs, allowing Chris Perez to close out the game and give the Indians the win in the first game of the series 6-5.