This wasn’t another one that got away, but the Indians once again shot themselves in the foot defensively which directly affected the 5-2 loss in Boston on Thursday night. During their 9-1 hot streak, the gloves weren’t a hot topic of conversation, despite the fact that they led the league in errors and unearned runs. But during this three-game losing skid, they have committed four errors and botched several other key plays that could have changed the games.
It wasn’t going to be an easy task facing the Red Sox ace, Jon Lester. Giving the defending champs, or any team for that matter, extra outs, can be a killer. Take the second inning for example. Mike Napoli sent a routine grounder to Asdrubal Cabrera at short. He fired in the dirt to first baseman Carlos Santana, who failed to make the scoop. It was Cabrera’s 12th error on the season, tops for all Major League shortstops.
Tribe radio play by play man Tom Hamilton put it best right after the error: “I’ve gotta tell ya, Asdrubal Cabrera is playing a very shoddy shortstop right now.” But as Hammy also pointed out “Cabrera needs to make good throws to Santana, because he is not very good at first base either.”
After a Daniel Nava single put runners at the corners, old friend Grady Sizemore laced a line drive to right which went over the head of Ryan Raburn for a ground rule double, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. That is when Tribe starter Josh Tomlin buckled down with assistance from Santana, who was looking to redeem himself. With the bases loaded and nobody out thanks to a walk to David Ross, Jonathon Herrera sent a sharp grounder right to Santana, who fired home to start a 3-2-3 double play. Tomlin came back with a big K of Jackie Bradley Jr. to kill the potential big inning.
“The Little Cowboy” and Lester would trade zeroes until the fifth. Bradley Jr. walked and went to second on Tomlin’s errant pickoff throw, but he retired both Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia, bringing the dangerous David Ortiz to the plate. First base was open and the right-handed hitting Napoli was on deck. The situation called for a possible intentional walk, or at least seeing Tomlin nibble the corners to see if he could get Ortiz to chase one. Instead, he left a fat pitch right over the plate that Big Papi crushed for a two-run bomb.
“There was no thought about walking him,” said Francona. “He was 0-for-10 against Josh. I know what David can do. I’ve seen him do it, but Napoli hit the next ball off the wall. We wanted to get him out.”
Trailing 3-1 against Lester, the Indians could have easily packed it in. Instead, the immediately went to work. Leadoff man Michael Bourn reached when Lester made an error of his own trying to cover first on Bourn’s ground ball. Michael Brantley doubled with one out to put two in socring position for Jason Kipnis. The Tribe’s All Star second baseman has been seeing the ball much better of late, and delivered a two-out, two-run single to make it a game again at 3-2.
Response runs have been a big problem for Indians pitching this season. It was important for Tomlin to deliver a lockdown sixth and he looked on his way when he retired the first two he faced. But Herrera tripled which brought Terry Francona out of the dugout to call for lefty Nick Hagadone to face the next two batters – both left-handed. First was Bradley Jr., who Hagadone walked on four pitches. As Hammy put it after the Bradley Jr. AB: “that’s what will get you sent back to the minors.”
“I thought it was a perfect situation for Hags,” Francona said. “It worked out about as bad as it could. That’s not how we drew it up.”
Next was Holt. Hagadone got ahead 1-2 before Holt worked the count full. He fouled off two pitches and then smacked a liner to left. Brantley looked like he might have a beat on it, but couldn’t make the play. Two Sox scored to stretch their lead back out to three. Hagadone had one job to do, and he failed at it twice. The southpaw has been a tease over these past three seasons riding the I-71 shuttle. In his first two appearances since his recall in early June, Hagadone looked like he had turned the corner. But in his last three appearances, he has only retired one batter, while giving up three hits and two walks.
“I don’t feel the same way,” said Hagadone. “I think that shows. I haven’t gotten anybody out in weeks. It’s obviously not the same.”
Lester pitched into the eighth for his seventh win of the season. Junichi Tazawa retired Santana with one on and two out in the eighth before turning it over to the nearly untouchable Koji Uehara who earned his 14th save.
The Indians, winners of nine of 10, have now lost three straight and are 3-4 on this 10-game road trip. They get back at it tonight with another fun pitching matchup. Francona sends out former Red Sox Justin Masterson (4-4, 4.61 ERA) while Boston counters with John Lackey (7-4, 3.18 ERA)