Any win is nice, but wins like today’s 7-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians was a little bit nicer than the rest. The Red Sox were behind all game, but came back with some key contributions from unlikely contributors. The pitching matchup looked like a favorable one for the Red Sox coming in with Jon Lester (6-1, 3.15) squaring off against Scott Kazmir (2-2, 6.35). However, Lester struggled a bit while Kazmir looked like he was in 2007 form back when he was one of two good players for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Carl Crawford being the other).
The Indians took an early lead in the first inning on a pair of two-out hits by Asdrubal Cabrera and Nick Swisher. Lester got through the second inning on 13 pitches, but he struggled mightily in the third inning. He tossed 36 pitches (20 for strikes), allowing the Indians to score twice on three hits, a walk, and a hit batter in the inning. After the third, however, Lester was on top of his game. He was rolling along up until John Farrell inexplicably left him in for the seventh inning with 104 pitches under his belt. Lester threw 20 more in the inning, and allowed the go-ahead run to cross the plate on a wild pitch.
Luckily for Lester, however, the Red Sox bats never let him get too far behind. After being burned in a similar fashion in the first, the Red Sox strung together a two-out rally of their own. Jose Iglesias singled on a dribbler to the left side of the infield and then advanced to second on a balk. He was driven in on a sharp single to center for Pedro Ciriaco, who had himself a nice 3-4 day with a run and an RBI to improve his slash line to .227/.314/.386 on the season.
The Red Sox scored again in the fourth on a Jose Iglesias double to cut the Indians’ lead to 3-2. They then tied it in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly to center field by Jonny Gomes. However, the true heroics came off Indians’ setup man Vinny Pestano in the bottom of the eighth inning after Lester’s (Farrell’s) miscues had allowed the Indians to take a 4-3 lead.
Jose Iglesias grounded out to lead off the inning, but Pedro Ciriaco played the part of the leadoff man as he stroked a double over the head of a confused Michael Brantley in left field. Jacoby Ellsbury‘s strikeout complicated matters, but Farrell made up for his earlier mistake with a good decision, pinch-hitting Mike Carp for Jonny Gomes. On the first pitch he saw, Carp drove the ball off the monster in left field. He would quickly come in to score on Dustin Pedroia‘s second double of the day to give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead. The Red Sox went on to load the bases for Daniel Nava, who hit a pop-up to left which somehow fell for a two-run single to give the Red Sox a 7-4 lead.
That lead would be more than enough for Andrew Bailey, who was sharp after allowing a leadoff single to a pinch-hitting Michael Bourn. He struck out another pinch-hitter in Jason Kipnis and then induced a pop out and a fly out from Mike Aviles and Asdrubal Cabrera, respectively. Bailey would convert his seventh save of the year and fifth in a row. All in all a good win, and the Red Sox now have at least a tied series but will go for the 3-1 series win in tomorrow’s ballgame.