Baseball is just the weirdest sport. Basically since David Price went down with his injury, most of us have been terrified at the prospect of Doug Fister getting a start in the Red Sox rotation. Most of the righty’s time in Boston has been less-than-stellar, to say the least. We all made the mistake of thinking we had any idea what was going to happen in a baseball game, though. We never do. Amidst all of our fear, Fister threw an absolute gem and handled Cleveland’s lineup with ease.
Fister was the story of this game, but the offense certainly did its part as well. They scored early and knocked Cleveland’s starter out of the game while getting contributions from up and down the lineup. Rafael Devers continued to impress and piled up four hits. Eduardo Nuñez was a spark once again and knocked in a couple runs on three hits. Chrisitian Vazquez and Mookie Betts each contributed a couple of hits as well. Basically, everything went right in this game.
It’s really hard to overstate just how impressive Fister was in this game and just how surprising that was. The righty is not a pitcher who will ever, even at his best, overwhelm his opponents with high-quality stuff. Instead, he pounds the zone and when he’s at his best he pounds the edges of the zone. That’s exactly what he did all night long against the Indians lineup, and it resulted in a ton of weak, unthreatening contact.
Fister didn’t just dominate the Indians lineup, but he did so quickly and efficiently. If you decided you needed to grab a beer during the top half of any inning, you were reliable to miss all of the action from that frame. Cleveland knew strikes were coming and were trying to do damage, but it almost always ended on the ground and without causing too much trouble for the Red Sox defense.
Things were particularly impressive for Fister early on in the game. Two of his first three innings were 1-2-3 affairs, with both of those including three groundouts. The second inning included a little bit of trouble for the Red Sox starter as he allowed a single and a walk, but he was able to get out of it with a strikeout and a groundout to strand the runners. After facing only three more batters in the fourth, Fister was through his first twelve outs with only one of them coming in the air and none of them leaving the infield. Nine of those first twelve outs came on the ground with two more coming by way of the K.
From here, Fister started getting squared up just a little more and looked to his defense for a bit of help to keep cruising. For example, the fifth started with Carlos Santana sending a rocket off the Monster, but the ball was played perfectly by Brock Holt and Santana was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a double. Fister only ended up facing three batters in the inning. The sixth was a tough inning for the righty by the standards set in this game, as he had to face a whopping four batters. He’d come back out for the seventh and get another 1-2-3 inning that included strikeouts of both Santana and Edwin Encarnacion.
Fister came back out for the eighth, and he lost his shutout in the frame. After allowing one baserunner but getting two outs he made his first and only big mistake of the night and allowed a two-run home run to Bradley Zimmer. That would be his final batter of the game and Fister left to a massive ovation from the Fenway Faithful.
On the other side of the ball, the Red Sox lineup did what it needed to do despite a makeshift group that had Holt in the two-hole and Eduardo Nuñez hitting third. They were going up against Mike Clevinger, a young pitcher with electric stuff but shaky control. Boston’s lineup was smart enough to handle that with the proper patience and knocked the righty out of the game after just three-plus innings of work.
After two batters reached on free passes in the first inning but found themselves stranded, the Red Sox offense really started getting to work in the second. That inning started with a single from — who else? — Rafael Devers. After a couple of quick outs, Boston’s hitters came through with some big two-out hits. First up was Vazquez, who hit a double to put a couple of runners in scoring position for Betts. The 2016 MVP runner-up didn’t hit it hard, but his little bloop found no-man’s land in center field and knocked in a couple. Nuñez followed that up with a double down the left field line to score one, but it also ended the rally as Holt was thrown out by a mile at the plate. Still, the Sox left the frame with a 3-0 lead.
After Devers was stranded at second in the third after a one-out double, the Red Sox came back out in the fourth to put the finishing touches on Clevenger. Cleveland’s starter would face three batters in the inning, allowing a walk and two singles. That resulted in one run and he left with two runners in scoring position. Boston would get one more on another RBI from Nuñez to give them a 5-0 lead.
From there, the lineup cooled off some against Cleveland’s bullpen, though to be fair the Indians’ relief corps tends to do that to some people. They’d tack on just one more run through the rest of the game, and that came in the seventh on Devers’ fourth hit of the game. Have a day, kid.
Out of the ‘pen, Brandon Workman came in and finished the eighth for Fister, though it wasn’t as easy as one would like as he did give up a couple of hits before getting the final out of the frame. He’d come back out for the ninth and send Cleveland down 1-2-3. The newly added Addison Reed obviously takes the eighth inning job in Boston, but Workman is slowly making his way up the depth chart.
There’s no much to add in this win. Boston dominated in an all-around fashion and there’s really nothing to complain about here. They’ll need to do this more than once for people to really feel better about this team, of course, but this is the kind of win that can get them back on track, particularly with such a good start coming from such an unlikely source. They’ll try to keep the good times rolling on Tuesday with Chris Sale on the mound.