Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona led his Cleveland Indians into Fenway for a three game set. Matt Barnes who has struggled this season in a late-inning relief role (5.64 ERA and 1.88 WHIP with six homers allowed in 22.1 innings) for the major league club this season, started his first major league game tonight. He returns to a starting role after starting 77 of 89 career minor league games. Potential Red Sox trade target Danny Salazar (10-6, 3.26 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) toed the rubber for Cleveland. Salazar was the better pitcher on this night as the Indians rolled to an easy 8-2 victory.
Travis Shaw put the Red Sox on the board first, pulling a long solo home run into the right field bleachers in the bottom of the third inning. This was the Red Sox first hit off Salazar on the night. Another single was added later in the inning, but no further runs were scored in the inning.
Barnes was cruising through three innings, but ran into the trouble in the top of the fourth inning. Michael Brantley laced a double just inside the right field line with one out. Carlos Santana followed with a single to right just in front of an onrushing Jackie Bradley Jr. to send Brantley to third. Abraham Almonte drove in the first run dragging a bunt into no-man’s land, between the pitcher and second baseman, for a single. A walk then loaded the bases. Lonnie Chisenhall hit a deep drive to left field that every other left fielder in baseball other than Hanley Ramirez catches, but it went over his head to score two runs and make it 3-1. An infield groundout extended the damage to 4-1. Mike Aviles laced a single to left field to make it 5-1. This was part of Barnes problem as a reliever, not being able to get out of innings while limiting the damage and it caused the Red Sox loss again tonight. The fact that outs could not be recorded on the drag bunt and the ball Hanley misjudged did not help either. It seems like Hanley’s poor fielding gets even worse in Fenway and tonight was a good example of his tentativeness leading to runs for the other team.
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The Red Sox were shut down by the talented Salazar all night, managing just four hits and two walks. Two of the hits were doubles, but neither of the runners could be brought in to make the score any closer. Santana tacked on to the Indians’ lead in the fifth with a long home run into the right field bullpen. It was a solo shot, to make the score 6-1. It doesn’t seem as if Joe Kelly has any worries about Barnes taking his rotation spot. Chisenhall added to his RBI total, taking recent call-up Heath Hembree deep for a solo homer in the sixth. The Indians added another run in the ninth to make it 8-1, but at that point it was all just bookkeeping. Shaw drove in another run with two outs in the ninth on a single, to make it 8-2, which was the final score.
- After only five homers at AAA in 313 plate appearances this season, Shaw’s fifth home run in the majors took only 55 plate appearances.
- Indians closer Cody Allen worked the ninth, allowing a run on two hits with a walk. He had not worked in five days. He threw 25 pitches tonight which could affect him if he is needed tomorrow night.
- David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to nine games with a ninth inning single.
- Red Sox pitching has now allowed 28 runs over the last three games.
- Red Sox record is now 52-66 tied for their season low of 14 games below .500.
One might say there were some good things about Matt Barnes’ outing, but any of those good things are overshadowed by the fact that allowed six earned runs in five innings. In fairness, two balls were struck that should have been outs in the five run fourth inning, (the bunt and Hanley misplay) but he still gave up hard hit balls to start the trouble. He also surrendered his seventh homer in just 27.1 innings this year. He struck out seven, but he walked three. This is the 2015 Red Sox, a poor defensive team, so this shaky fielding is to be expected. Barnes is also recently stretched back out to starter so his pitches started to flatten out the second time through the order. All in all, no one has to worry he is taking anyone’s rotation spot for good.
Hembree gets the nod for giving the team seven outs in relief. He actually lowered his ERA to 7.27 based on his performances earlier this season, though giving up a run in 2.1 innings.
gave up a run in 1.2 innings so he was far from spectacular either. He has been scored on in five of his last six outings. His ERA, which stood at 2.97 on July 24, is now 4.42.
Shaw gets the easy nod here for driving in both the runs of the night, including on a home run. He also put a tough AB on Salazar, fouling off several two strike pitches before striking out with a man on base. Bradley, Jr. was the only other Red Sox batter to reach base twice, via two walks. After the weekend’s offensive outburst as well as facing a tough young pitcher in Salazar, it is not surprising the Red Sox would struggle tonight.