Created on Friday, 19 April 2013 Written by JIM INGRAHAM jingraham@MorningJournal.com @jitribeinsider,writer
CLEVELAND — As homestands go ... get these guys on the road!
The Indians concluded a dismal season-opening homestand Thursday night with a 6-3 loss to Boston, as the Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the reeling Tribe.
Never mind winning a game, the Indians never even had the lead in any of the three games.
The Indians went 2-6 on the homestand — and it could have been worse ... or better.
Probably worse, though. Two games were rained out.
The Indians didn’t do much hitting in the eight games they did play, and the pitching was spotty.
The Indians scored three runs or fewer in six of the eight games. They were outscored in the series 51-26.
The Indians lost two games to the banged up Yankees’ junior varsity, and had the last two games of that series postponed by rain. They rallied to win two of three from the White Sox, but then were methodically beaten three straight by the streaking Red Sox, who have won six games in a row.
Unlike the Indians, Boston has been getting sensational starting pitching so far this season. Red Sox starters have allowed three runs or fewer in all 15 games the team has played. The last American League team to have a longer such streak was the Oakland A’s, whose starters allowed three or fewer runs in the first 16 games of the 1981 season.
Thursday night it was Jon Lester who pestered Indians hitters. Lester pitched seven innings and held the Indians to two runs on four hits to improve his record to 3-0 and keep his career record at Progressive Field perfect at 4-0.
Boston’s hitters, who turned in one impressive at bat after another throughout the series, did it again Thursday against Tribe starter Zach McAllister.
McAllister (1-2) pitched five solid innings, but it took him too many pitches to do so. He threw 112 pitches while giving up three runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and three walks.
One of those runs was wind-aided. Mike Napoli led off the top of the second inning by hitting a routine fly ball to right field. But as right fielder Ryan Raburn was settling under the ball it caught a gust of wind that blew it off the right field wall for the seventh triple of the lumbering Napoli’s eight-year career.
Daniel Nava followed with a single, scoring Napoli with the first run of the game.
The Indians countered in the bottom of the second with some classic get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in baseball.
Ryan Reynolds led off with a double, went to third on a flyout to right by Raburn and scored on an infield groundout by Cord Phelps.
Boston took a 2-1 lead after McAllister struck out the first two batters he faced in the fourth inning. Jarrod Saltalamacchia then drove a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right field for his third home run.
In the fifth inning, Jacoby Ellsbury bounced a double off the left field wall, went to third on a single by Shane Victorino and scored on a single by Dustin Pedroia, giving the Red Sox a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Mike Aviles led off with a double, went to third on a groundout by Phelps and scored on a groundout by Drew Stubbs, as the Indians cut the Boston lead to 3-2.
Boston blew it open in the seventh inning against Tribe relievers Nick Hagadone and Bryan Shaw. Ellsbury singled and went to second when Victorino reached on an error by second baseman Phelps.
Napoli singled home Ellsbury, a sacrifice fly by Nava drove in Victorino, and Mike Carp’s pinch hit single knocked in Napoli to stretch the Boston lead to 6-2.
The Indians made some noise in the eighth when Carlos Santana doubled home a run to cut it to 6-3, but with runners at second and third and two outs, reliever Koji Uehara struck out Nick Swisher to keep it at 6-3.
That’s the way the homestand ended — not an inning too soon for the Tribe.