This one was never in doubt as Lonnie Chisenhall put the Indians ahead early and Corey Kluber never saw serious trouble over seven innings. With the win, the Indians moved to 2-0 in the series and will attempt to sweep the series in Boston on Sunday. Here’s how it happened today:
The start of the game was a lot less exciting for both teams tonight. Mookie Betts did get the Red Sox first hit in the top of the first, but Jason Kipnis turned a nice double play to end the inning. The Tribe went quickly and quietly in the bottom of the inning against David Price.
The second was much more entertaining for the Tribe. Kluber struck out his first batter, Hanley Ramirez, looking and put down the Red Sox in order. In the bottom half, things got really crazy.
After Mike Napoli grounded out to start the inning, Carlos Santana snuck a single through the infield, Jose Ramirez was safe on an infield single to short and Brandon Guyer knocked in the first run of the game with a single to center. Ramirez advanced to third on the play, but it didn’t matter as Lonnie Chisenhall pulled Price over the yellow line down the right field line for a three run home run. The Indians weren’t quite done yet as Roberto Perez walked before Rajai Davis struck out for the second out of the inning. Kipnis popped out to third to end the inning, but the Indians had already spotted Kluber a four run lead.
It was more of the same for Kluber in the third, striking out two in a perfect inning. Things looked like they could get interesting in the bottom half, as Mike Napoli hit a hard single and stole second with a delayed steal, but both Santana and Ramirez struck out to end the inning. With all the steals the Indians had this season, it is pretty funny that it wasn’t Davis, Lindor, Ramirez or Kipnis to steal the first post-season base, but Napoli.
Kluber had faced the minimum coming into the fourth and, while he wouldn’t allow a hit or run, that would change. Facing an extremely small strike zone (particularly the outside corner vs RHH), he walked Dustin Pedroia and Betts around a strike out of Brock Holt. After an infield fly off the bat of David Ortiz, Kluber struck out Hanley Ramirez looking to end the threat.
Price continued to struggle in the fourth as Guyer lead off with a single and he then walked Roberto Perez fr the second time. With the right handed Davis due up, Price was pulled with just one out in the fourth after Rick Porcello was taken out during the fifth last night. Against the new pitcher, Matt Barnes, Davis grounded it to third where Holt took the easy force for the second out of the inning. Continuing with his success from game one, Kipnis then came through with a two out, opposite field single to score Perez from second.
Francisco Lindor had his first chance to pull off one of his incredible plays ranging to his right to start the fifth, but he didn’t have enough time to through out Xander Bogaerts at first and the Sox short stop was safe with their third hit. He would be stranded there, however, as Andrew Benintendi lined out to right, Sandy Leon popped out to short and Jackie Bradley, Jr. struck out swinging to end the inning.
The third replay at second base and fourth overall took place in the bottom of the fifth after Jose Ramirez singled and attempted to steal second. He was initially called safe, but replay showed that Ramirez was tagged on the foot slightly before he reached the base and the call was overturned to end the inning.
The top defensive play of the game came in the sixth with one out when Holt smashed a groundball to first that glanced off Napoli’s wrist. Incredibly, Kipnis was able to run up and grab the ricochet barehanded and throw to Kluber at first to get the out. After, Betts reached base again with a single, but Kluber was able to get another fly out from Ortiz to end the inning.
Guyer hit his third straight single to start the bottom half, then moved to third on a Pedroia error and scored on a fly ball to left off the bat of Davis. Although Kipnis walked to extend the inning, Lindor struck out to end it with the Indians lead up to six runs.
Coming into the inning with 80 pitches, Kluber looked as good as he did the rest of the night. He quickly turned down the Sox in order including his seventh strike out of the night, swinging against Bogaerts. The Indians came up and went down just as quickly in the bottom of the inning.
Considering the length of time since his last start and the fact that he was recovering from a groin strain, Kluber probably shouldn’t have stayed on for the eighth, but Terry Francona obviously wanted to get the most out of his starter. Kluber walked and hit a batter to start the inning, the latter after he had him down 0-2, so he was pulled for one of the Indians top relievers this year, Dan Otero. Otero struck out Pedroia, got Holt to fly out to center and Mookie Betts to ground out to strand both runners.
Prior to the series, I took a look at the best performances in Indians ALDS history and Kluber pretty much matched Orel Hershiser‘s from the 1995 sweep of Boston, which came in seventh on that list. Kluber pitched 7+ scoreless innings with 7 strike outs, three walks and, like Hershiser, just three hits allowed.
David Ortiz saw only two pitches in his final at bat in this game (and hopefully is last in Cleveland ever), as Bryan Shaw got him to pop out to center. So far in this series, Big Papi has went 1 for 8 with a strike out and seven left on. Mike Napoli went all out to dive and stop a ground ball hit by Ramirez for the second out of the inning and Shaw retired Bogaerts with a fly out to center to finish out the shut out win.