After amassing OPS totals of .656 and .671 through June and July, respectively, the Tribe took to a trip to Boston and partied like it was mid-May. After a stretch that saw the Indians go 24 innings without scoring an earned run, the lumber was resurrected in Fenway as the Wahoos whacked four home runs – two by All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, his 18th and 19th of the season - off of Red Sox pitchers with the final score reading 9-6 good guys.
The recent swoon of Indians losses, a team that was only one game over .500 heading into Monday night made a road victory that much more integral. To be able to do it with offense on a night when starting pitcher Josh Tomlin did not have his best stuff meant that much more.
The aforementioned Cabrera came out with a vengeance, finishing the evening by going 3-for-5 with three runs scored, four runs batted in and several more excellent plays in the field. The highlight and eventual game-winning play of the evening came in the eighth inning when the switch-hitting glovesman crushed an inside breaking ball down the right field line, only to have the line drive ricochet into right field with ferocity. Boston right fielder Josh Reddick played the carom well, holding Cabrera to a very long single. Only what the umpires originally thought was the right field wall near the infamous Pesky Pole was actually the kneecap of a female Red Sox fan sitting in the first row.
The result of the Cabrera screamer was a two-run home run, his second such hit of the night, the team’s fourth.
The middle of the Tribe’s order did the bulk of the damage in this one with rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis also putting together a 3-for-5 evening with three runs scored, one via his second home run of his very young career. Clean-up hitter Travis Hafner followed Cabrera’s first home run of the night with one of his own, his 10th of the season. All in all, the Indians chased away Sox starting pitcher John Lackey after six and two-thirds innings of work where the $82.5 million man allowed eight hits and five earned runs. Typically effective relief pitcher Daniel Bard would ultimately be the losing pitcher after he would allow three earned runs in just one-third inning.
Tribe’s starter Josh Tomlin had issues keeping the ball down in Fenway on this night, allowing 10 hits and two home runs in six innings pitched. Even 12 of his 21 batted outs came via the fly ball. After limiting the home run ball in his last two outings, one a hard-luck four-hit loss against the Angels, Tomlin’s location got the best of him against the red hot Sox – Boston finished the month of the July with a league best .501 slugging percentage, essentially the anti-Indians. Thankfully, the Tribe bullpen did their job once again, allowing only three hits and one run (a fluke run in the ninth) in four innings of work, striking out four. Rafael Perez’ one inning of scoreless work earned him the win.
Hopes are that the Indians can continue these hard-hitting ways as they finish up their series in Boston before heading to the bandbox in Arlington, Texas. The team expects right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (broken thumb) to take batting practice later this week; Choo had been doing pregame conditioning drills with his teammates during the Kansas City series, so the next step would be securing dates for a rehab assignment prior to activation.
David Huff takes the hill tonight, facing Boston’s Josh Beckett. Though Beckett is the proud owner of an ERA just a hair over two, he’s coming off of a rough outing against the Royals where he allowed four runs; he held the Tribe to one run back in May. For those keeping an eye on the near future, recently acquired Ubaldo Jiménez will toe the rubber on Friday when the Tribe opens up the series against the Rangers.
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