The one thing I love about Actaball is that the Indians are a fundamentally sound club that rarely beats itself. Last night, the aggressive base-running that has worked so well all season backfired not once, not twice, but four times in the 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
The Indians were first on the board in the second inning. With two out, Ezequiel Carrera hit a two-out RBI single bringing in Travis Buck, but Orlando Cabrera was nailed trying to advance to third, robbing Michael Brantley of a chance to add to the 1-0 lead. It was an aggressive play, but as the old baseball adage says “you never make the third out at third.”
The Red Sox took the lead in the top of the third against Fausto Carmona on a Jed Lowrie sac fly and a two out RBI double by Adrian Gonzalez. Like so many times this year, Carmona seems to be one pitch away from avoiding major trouble, and then gets bitten.
Things could have been much different in this one if not for the aforementioned Tribe base-running blunders. In the third and fourth, Boston Catcher Jason Varitek, who seemingly hasn’t thrown someone out since the Clinton administration, nailed both Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Buck in steal attempts in the third and fourth.
Then in the fifth, Matt LaPorta was on first with one out with Carrera sent a sharp liner to the left-center gap that was run down by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. LaPorta forgot how many outs their were and took off sprinting on contact. He was doubled up with ease to end the inning.
“I just messed up. I lost track of the outs,” LaPorta said. “I know that’s a huge mental mistake. If you want to be a championship ballclub, you can’t do things like that.”
When you face a pitcher like Josh Beckett, you just cannot make mistakes like these and give back outs. Said Manny Acta: “We gave a few away on the bases. That translates, sometimes, into 15 to 20 pitches. Maybe it means you get a guy out of the game an inning earlier.”
Beckett seemed to be getting the better of the matchup with Carmona, and that became clinched in the seventh. Still trailing 2-1, David Ortiz led off by hitting a line drive to center. Carrera made a poor break on the ball and then let it bounce off of his glove. The official scorer ruled it a double, but in reality, it was an error. Another killer mistake by the Tribe in this one. After J.D. Drew grounded out and moved Ortiz to third, Carmona gave up a two-run blast off the right field foul poll to the light-hitting Varitek. It was his first homer since May 30th of last year.
Again, essentially two pitches changed the entire game to Carmona; the two-out double by Gonzalez in the third, and the Varitek seventh inning jack.
“Fausto gave us a tremendous effort,” said Acta. “He gave us a chance to win.” The four runs came on just five hits and one walk. He struck out seven.
The Wahoos managed to chase Beckett in the seventh, but couldn’t get that big hit that they have all year. They put two on with two out in that seventh inning, but left-hander Rich Hill K’d Jack Hannahan looking to end the threat.
In the ninth, Buck hit a one-out solo homer off of closer Jonathan Papelbon, but that was all they could muster. The 4-2 loss was Boston’s first win over the Tribe in five tries this season.
As they say, you can’t win ‘em all. The Tribe can still take the series with a win this afternoon at 12:05. Its the return of Mitch Talbot (1-0, 1.46 ERA) to the rotation, who hasn’t made a start since April 1tth, when he pitched a complete game in Anaheim. He will be opposed by tough lefty Jon Lester (6-1, 3.68 ERA). Expect to see a classic getaway Tribe lineup featuring the bench bunch – Shelley Duncan, Adam Everett, Austin Kearns, and Lou Marson.