Lowly Indians give Red Sox a beating
CLEVELAND — As bad as the Red Sox have been lately, the Cleveland Indians have been even worse.
The Indians lost 11 straight before finally beating the Twins Wednesday. That they avoided the franchise record for consecutive losses was cause for celebration.
The pitching staff allowed at least five runs in each of those losses as Cleveland went from the thick of the wild-card race to hopelessly out of contention.
Look for the Red Sox to join them soon in the darkness, if they haven’t already.
A fifth-inning meltdown by Felix Doubront led to the Sox losing, 5-3, Thursday night against the Indians before a crowd of 19,639 at Progressive Field.
The 55-58 Sox have lost three straight, seven of their last nine and 13 of 20.
The clubhouse was unusually silent after the game, even for a team accustomed to losing. The Sox haven’t formally surrendered but are deep in negotiations at this point.
“A lot of things I thought didn’t work out well tonight,” manager Bobby Valentine said.
Ubaldo Jimenez (9-11) and three relievers struck out 12 as the Indians came back from a 3-1 deficit.
Jimenez, who came in leading the American League with 76 walks, walked only one. The Red Sox also were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and ran into a double play to end a rally in the seventh inning. It was an embarrassing performance.
For Doubront, it was an uneven night caused by a lack of fastball command.
He gave up a run right away when leadoff hitter Jason Donald hit the third pitch he saw down the line in right field for a home run.
Still, Doubront rolled into the fifth inning having retired eight straight and holding a 3-1 lead. The streak continued when he got Casey Kotchman to ground to second.
Valentine was impressed that Doubront got that far given that he was relying on changeups and curveballs and credited catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for his guidance.
But Doubront failed to record another out, the next five Indians reaching base.
Lou Marson singled up the middle before Donald drew a walk. Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to left field, driving in one run.
Doubront then walked Shin-Soo Cho to load the bases. When Carlos Santana followed with an RBI single to left field, Doubront was pulled after 94 pitches.
“That’s my best pitch, my first pitch,” he said. “It’s hard when I don’t have that pitch to throw.”
Andrew Miller inherited a mess and cleaned it up fairly well, allowing one more run to score on Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly.
Doubront was charged with four runs on seven hits and two walks over 4⅓ innings.
“From the get-go, he wasn’t really feeling it,” Saltalamacchia said. “He was falling behind a lot of guys and when you fall behind, you’ve got to throw strikes.”
Doubront is clearly wearing down in his first full season as a starter, having allowed 16 earned runs on 27 hits and 14 walks over his last 20⅔ innings. The 24-year-old has thrown 122⅔ innings, 35 more than he did all last season, majors and minors.
“Maybe,” Valentine said when asked if the workload was getting to Doubront. “His command is not quite what it was.”
Said Doubront: “No, no, I feel pretty good. I just have to figure out a couple of things.”
Jimenez was 0-4 with an 8.42 ERA in his previous five starts. But he was sharp against the Sox, giving up three runs on eight hits over six innings. He struck out 10.
The Sox scored twice in the fourth inning. Dustin Pedroia, the designated hitter for the first time in his career, had a single to left field. Adrian Gonzalez stayed hot, driving a fastball into the stands in right field for his 12th home run.
The shot gave Gonzalez 47 RBIs in his last 60 games. He had 27 in his first 51 games.
The Sox scored again in the fifth inning. Jacoby Ellsbury singled, stole his third base of the night, and came around on a single to center by Pedroia.
With the Red Sox trailing, 4-3, in the seventh, Ciriaco doubled to right and Indians manager Manny Acta took Jimenez out. Lefthander Tony Sipp struck out Ellsbury and got Carl Crawford to ground to short.
Cabrera threw to third base and Ciriaco got caught in a rundown. As the Indians chased Ciriaco down, Crawford tried for second. Cabrera tagged out Ciriaco, then threw to Donald at second and he tagged out Crawford for a double play.
At worst, the Sox should have a runner on second and two outs for Pedroia. Instead they had run themselves out of the inning.
Valentine absolved Crawford, who did the right trying to get to second. Ciriaco, he said, was at fault.
“Pedro was a little over-aggressive,” Valentine said.
Ciriaco said he thought the ball was going to get through and didn’t check to make sure.
“I made a mistake,” he said.
Still trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning, the Sox got two runners on base with one out against Vinnie Pestano as Gonzalez was hit by a pitch and Cody Ross singled.
But Saltalamacchia struck out for the third time in the game and the 101st time this season. Will Middlebrooks then popped to right field.
Cleveland tacked on another run in the bottom half against Junichi Tazawa. Chris Perez then mowed down the Sox in the ninth for his 30th save.