The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball.
Our Fake Sox are in the midst of an extremely tough stretch of baseball on the schedule, and this could be the toughest series on the road against the AL-leading Indians. They still had a chance at a series win, though, thanks to a 6-4 win on Tuesday. All they had to do was win a rubber match on a getaway day Wednesday, going up against possible Cy Young contender Mike Clevinger while they countered with Matt Shoemaker.
Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox took some time to get going against the Indians righty, as he cruised through the first three innings. Through those first nine outs, Boston managed just one single. On the other side, Shoemaker was walking a tightrope over the first two frames. In each of those innings, he had two men reach base — though it wasn’t entirely his fault in the first as Xander Bogaerts booted a routine grounder — but kept Cleveland off the board.
His luck began to run out in the third, though. There, the Indians got the first two men on as Shoemaker lost control, hitting the first batter of the inning before issuing a walk. He’d come back with a big strikeout, but then Jake Bauers made him pay with a single into right field, bringing a run home and putting Cleveland on the board first. There were still two men on with one out, though, but Shoemaker did wiggle out of it thanks to an inning-ending double play.
So, the Red Sox were down 1-0 heading into the fourth going against a cruising Clevinger, but they wouldn’t stay down for long. On just the second pitch of the inning, Alex Verdugo launched one out to right-center field. It traveled 384 feet for a solo homer, his sixth of the year, and tied the game at one. Boston’s next three batters would go down, but the game was tied.
In the bottom of the inning, it sure looked like Shoemaker was ready to cruise through a shutdown frame. He got two quick outs to start things off and only had to get the number nine hitter, Roberto Pérez. The pitcher did his job, too, getting a routine ground ball over to Mitch Moreland. The normally surehanded first baseman booted it, though, and the inning continued for Francisco Lindor. The star shortstop made Boston pay. He launched a two-run homer in the next at bat, and suddenly it went from a 1-2-3 inning to a 3-1 lead for the Indians.
Once again, however, the Red Sox were not going to go down quietly, and the next half inning followed closely with that bottom of the fourth. The first two batters went down to start the inning, but Moreland made up for his error to keep the inning going with a line drive single into left field. He’d even move up to second on an error from Jordan Luplow. It wouldn’t matter where he was standing, though, because José Peraza tied the game with one swing. It wasn’t a moonshot, but the second baseman hit one just over the wall down the left field line for a two-run shot, and suddenly it was 3-3.
In the sixth, it seemed the Red Sox would have a chance to take the lead, too, as Verdugo was hit by a pitch to lead things off and J.D. Martinez followed it up with a single. The Red Sox couldn’t get the run home, though, and the game was still tied up.
That was still the case in the top of the seventh, but this time they’d come through. Christian Vázquez got things started with a leadoff single here, and then it was Peraza once again. He just missed his second home run of the game, smacking one off the top of the wall in right-center field. Instead, he’d settle for the RBI triple to make it a 4-3 game. A couple of batters later, Verdugo came through again himself, smacking an RBI single to give Boston a 5-3 lead.
This is when disaster struck. Shoemaker came back out in the bottom of the seventh with 89 pitches under his belt facing the middle of the order. Bringing him back out wasn’t unreasonable, but he should have had a short leash. Instead, he was left in to issue back-to-back walks to lead off the inning followed by a base hit to load the bases with nobody out. Somehow he was still left in, and he walked Bauers to bring home a run, and that was the end of his night.
Now, Brandon Workman came on to try and get out of an impossible jam with the bases loaded, nobody out and his team clinging to a one-run lead. He didn’t get it done. Workman gave up two straight singles and then a two-run double, and just like that Cleveland had an 8-5 lead. That was the end of his night, and Josh Taylor came on next with still nobody out and two men on. The lefty did get a big first out on a strikeout, and then they decided to issue a free pass to Lindor. Not unreasonable, but they’d regret it. César Hernández came up next, and he launched a grand slam out to left field to put the cherry on top on the disaster of an inning. That was all Cleveland would get, but the game went from a 5-3 Red Sox lead to a 12-5 Red Sox deficit.
That was that. Boston would watch their next six batters go down in order, and the painful loss was in the books. It dropped the Red Sox record down to 33-29, and with the Yankees picking up a win the deficit in the AL East is back up to 1.5 games. Down on the farm, Ryan Weber tossed seven scoreless innings in a win for Pawtucket, Roniel Raudes gave up seven runs without getting out of the second in a Sea Dogs loss, Salem split their doubleheader with Noah Song tossing 7 1⁄3 shutout innings in the win, Aldo Ramirez got hit around in a Greenville loss, and both DSL teams got wins.