CLEVELAND -- The silence that marked the Red Sox clubhouse after last night's game was different than that which marked the room the night before.
Instead of calm confidence coming from a five-game winning streak and dominant starting pitching that was one notch better than that of the Indians, this quiet was more about anger and disappointment.
Twice, the Red Sox ran into ugly outs in dropping a 1-0 decision a night after beating Cleveland, 1-0, behind Daisuke Matsuzaka.
"I missed a sign, [screwed] it up, and it cost us the game," Alex Cora said of the missed hit-and-run sign that led to Jason Varitek being caught off first base for the second out of the eighth inning. "[Fausto Carmona] is pitching a great ballgame. They put on the hit and run, I miss the sign. Probably that was the game right there."
Probably not, in reality. But there was that other play, which just might have been the game (and with it another game in the standings to the streaking Yankees, winners over the Royals last night).
Coco Crisp had broken through with a single after 5 1/3 innings of no-hit ball by Carmona, then moved to second on a ground out by Dustin Pedroia. David Ortiz came to the plate. With the shift on, Ortiz singled to short right field, where second baseman Josh Barfield gloved the ball with no time to get Ortiz at first. But Crisp was rounding third, trying to tie the score.
But he slowed down, just steps from the plate. Why? Not sure. Crisp walked away from reporters after the game, choosing to put on his shirt in a hallway. Catcher Victor Martinez, who applied the tag, also didn't stick around in the Indians clubhouse.
"I knew I had no play at first base," Barfield said. "I was watching Coco all the way. I just made the throw to the plate."
And got him. Or not, depending on your viewing of the replay, or which of the 29,614 in attendance you asked. What is clear, though, is that Crisp had enough time to make it home before the tag. What is also clear is that Manny Ramírez was not close to home plate to indicate to Crisp whether to slide. That, though, is not out of the ordinary for Ramírez.
"I just think Victor had the plate blocked," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It's a weird play because of where they're playing. The infield takes a step back. Coco had a chance to score. In that type of game, [we] take our chances."
The plays somewhat obscured outstanding pitching performances from Carmona and Josh Beckett, both of whom went eight innings. It was a game that mirrored the Matsuzaka-C.C. Sabathia pitchers' duel Tuesday night.
Again, all it took was one run, this one scored in the third inning, when Franklin Gutierrez took a "fastball right down the [expletive] middle," according to Beckett, and lofted it onto the left-field porch. The home run was all that was needed to drop Beckett to 13-4, with two of his last three outings losses in which he allowed two or fewer runs over eight innings.
"To me, it was one of the best outings Josh has ever had," Varitek said. "His command. His ability to use his curveball, his changeup, but then still locate his fastball on both sides."
Beckett's response? "It's tough to compare a loss with wins," he said. "I felt good. All the results, except for that one pitch, were pretty good."
The only trouble for Beckett occurred in the second and third, with two batters reaching in each inning, four of the five for his entire outing. In fact, after Grady Sizemore singled with one out in the third, Beckett retired the next 14 batters before allowing a Trot Nixon single in the eighth.
But Carmona didn't allow anyone to cross the plate. That was the difference, despite the fact he allowed seven base runners.
"He was pretty good tonight, throwing a sinker 94, 95, 96 all night on the outside half, pounding in," Eric Hinske said. "He kept us off balance with his changeup. He did a good job tonight. He deserves the credit."
And, from all corners of the clubhouse, Carmona got the credit. The game might just have been good enough to replace the lasting memory of Carmona, at least for most Red Sox fans. That, of course, was his horrific week as the Indians' replacement closer last season. He lost four games, blowing three saves, two to the Sox on walkoffs by Ortiz (home run) and Mark Loretta (double). He was much better last night.
Not that anyone was losing sight of what Beckett did on the mound. He was pretty good, too.
"[Beckett] threw one pitch to Gutierrez out over the plate, [he] whacked it," said Francona. "It held up, like last night. [It was a] lot more fun to talk about it last night."
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.