After scoring just one run in 27 innings against the Orioles, the Red Sox lineup put up five against the Indians Thursday night, backing up a strong performance from Jon Lester en route to a 5-2 win.
In fact, it didn't even take the Red Sox two full innings to match their run total against the Orioles, with Grady Sizemore doubling home Mike Napoli from second after the first baseman reached via an error from Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. David Ross would draw a walk behind him to load the bases with no outs on the board, but Jonathan Herrera hit into a 3-2-3 double play which kept the Indians from falling any further behind in the inning.
The Red Sox would put a few men on in the next couple of innings, but could never completely close the deal. Not until the fifth, anyways. There, Jackie Bradley Jr. led off the inning with a single off of Josh Tomlin, then made his way to third base on an errant pickoff attempt and a Brock Holt ground out. Dustin Pedroia's ground ball, however, was not enough to bring Bradley home, leaving it up to David Ortiz to get the run in.
A little background seems appropriate here: David Ortiz has not been hitting. He's not been hitting at all. While the struggles of the team as a whole have masked his struggles somewhat, he's got a line of .154/.287/.282 in his last 23 games. So when the Indians shrugged and pitched to Ortiz instead of Napoli, well, it's not that hard of a position to justify, especially given how inadvisable the intentional walk is in general.
Tonight, though...it did not turn out well for Tomlin. An 89 MPH fastball floated ever-so-perfectly into the bottom of the zone, and Ortiz did not miss this opportunity, crushing it to dead center over the high wall for a two-run shot that put the Red Sox ahead 3-0.
In Jon Lester's last start, those three runs would not have been enough to see the Red Sox through the fifth inning. Thankfully, this time was different. It wasn't until the fourth inning that the Indians managed to get a baserunner and actually keep him, and not until the fifth that they put a runner in scoring position. Still, his outing was not without drama. Immediately after the Red Sox jumped ahead 3-0, Lester wasted a good play by Mike Napoli, failing to glove the first baseman's toss and letting Michael Bourn reach. Michael Brantley doubled behind him, leaving two men in scoring position for Jason Kipnis' ground ball single past Dustin Pedroia, slashing Boston's lead to just the one run.
Cleveland's comeback would prove short-lived, however. In the bottom of the sixth, with Jonathan Herrera and Jackie Bradley Jr. on base, Brock Holt took an outside fastball the other way over the head of a leaping Michael Brantley, getting both runs back for the Red Sox.
From there, it was smooth sailing, more or less. Lester got the Red Sox two outs in the eighth before surrendering a single and turning the ball over to Junichi Tazawa to get just the one man. With that job done, all that was left was a 1-2-3 ninth from Koji Uehara to seal the deal.