Thanks to the steady fall of rain at Boston’s Fenway Park, Friday night’s Indians-Red Sox game was delayed by 44 minutes. It would have been better for the Indians if the game had not been played at all.
That’s because Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey was in total command from the very start, allowing only two hits and one run, and that unearned, over seven innings of work. The Indians offense, which had erupted for 12 runs and 16 hits the night before, was stymied by Lackey, who struck out eight batters and walked three. Only two Indians hit the ball out of the infield against Lackey.
Indians ace Justin Masterson gave up five runs, all earned, over six innings. His biggest mistake came in the second, when Red Sox left fielder Mike Carp gave Boston all the runs they needed by hitting a slider into the seats in right field for a three-run homer. After giving up a leadoff double in the 7th, with Boston up 4-1, Rich Hill took over for Masterson, and in the words of David Bowie, began putting out fire with gasoline, hitting a batter and giving up two hits over two-thirds of an inning. By the time the Red Sox were finally retired in the seventh, the score stood at 8-1, and that’s how it remained for the rest of the game.
It rained throughout the entire game, and maybe that contributed to the lack of offense on the part of the Tribe. With the exception of Michael Brantley, who went 2 for 3 with a double, no one really looked good at the plate for the Indians. In his first game back after taking three days of paternity leave when his wife had a baby girl, Nick Swisher went 0 for 4, striking out twice and hitting weak grounders in his other two at-bats. But it’s not fair to single out Swish for not being able to hit, considering that the non-Brantley part of the team went a combined 2 for 28.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, Tigers starter Anibel Sanchez took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before issuing a single to Joe Mauer of the Twins, and the Tigers won 6-0, thus knocking the Indians down to second place in the AL Central. A performance like that, combined with the Tigers having beaten the Indians twice in recent days, does more than a little to bring this particular Indians fan down from the euphoria brought on by the way the team had been playing before the Tigers series, and should serve as a reminder, if a reminder is needed, that winning the division, while certainly possible, will require the Indians to become more consistent and to stay that way throughout the remainder of the season.
The Indians and Red Sox face off again on Saturday afternoon. The four-game series is now tied at one game apiece.