Second Thoughts: Game #114 Indians 5, Red Sox 2
|W: Z. McAllister (5-4) L: F. Morales (3-3) S: Perez (31)
Player of the Game: Brent Lillibridge (3-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 2B, 1 HR)
Somewhere, both Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro were smiling last night as newly acquired utility man Brent Lillibridge and the Indians defeated Red Sox on Saturday, 5-2. After a slow start to the ballgame, the Tribe bats warmed up late scoring four of their five runs over the last four innings of the game.
Tribe starter Zach McAllister gave Cleveland yet another quality outing, going a career-high eight strong innings, giving up just two runs on three hits and striking out four. The 6-foot-6, 240 pound right-hander now has five victories on the season.
The Top 9
The Bottom 7
- Bridge to Victory. Brent Lillibridge almost seemed like he was a part of every play last night. There is no question the super utility man played in his best game of the year on Saturday, matching his season RBI total in just one game. Not only did he lead off the third inning with a solo home run off Red Sox starter Franklin Morales, but collected a double and RBI single in the game as well. Lillibridge also made a great diving tag on Jacoby Ellsbury who was trying to stretch his hit to a triple in the top of the sixth inning.
- Z-Mac wins again. No Tribe starter has been more consistent right now than Zach McAllister. The right-hander gone at least six innings in nine of his 13 starts on the year, giving up three runs or less in 11 of them. And if that wasn’t enough, McAllister is 2-3 with a 3.05 ERA over his last seven outings, walking 12 and striking out 36 in 41 1/3 innings.
- Good things come in small packages. With the Indians up 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Manny Acta called a successful suicide squeeze as Lou Marson put down the bunt that scored Lillibridge. If it were up to me, the Tribe should start integrating small ball more into their game plan, especially with team being known to struggle with runners in scoring position. Acta is now a perfect 6-for-6 as the Indians skipper went calling for the suicide squeeze.
- Defeating a left-handed starter. Although the Tribe offense would struggle early on against Morales, the bats woke up just in time to give the Boston southpaw his third loss this year. Cleveland is now 13-24 against lefty starters this season.
- Scoring first. For the fourth consecutive time and in six of the Indians last seven ballgames, the Tribe has taken the first lead of the game. Anytime a team can score first, it takes a little pressure off the starting pitcher and other hitters in the lineup. For the Indians to still have a chance, they need to continue to build early leads.
- The double steal. Acta was at it again in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo worked a double steal against Morales. The play would give the Indians the lead for good, as Michael Brantley hit a sac fly to put the Tribe up 3-2.
- Carrera crusin’. While he didn’t get the start, Ezequiel Carrera hit an RBI single in his only at-bat on Saturday, his third RBI of the season. Since getting the call-up from Triple-A Columbus, the Indians outfielder is hitting .385 (10-for-26) with two triples, a home run and has played great defense.
- CP with his 31st save. With the Indians up by three in the ninth inning, Chris Perez worked a scoreless frame picking up his 31st save of the season. The Tribe is now 3-1 since Perez shaved his beard.
- Hits with runners in scoring position. Cleveland was clutch just enough on Saturday going 2-for-7 (.286) with RISP. The team has gotten better production in key situations of late, which is hopefully a sign of good things to come down the stretch.
- Bridge a little shaky early. After Ellsbury doubled to lead off the top of the fourth inning, Carl Crawford tried to bunt to move him over to third base. What should have been an easy sacrifice for the Red Sox quickly turned into a mess for the Tribe. Lillibridge had two mental errors, one not covering third base on the bunt and the other not getting rid of the ball in time to first base as Dustin Pedroia hit a routine groundball to him. Both plays mounted to Boston’s only two runs of the ballgame.
- Strikeouts at the top of the lineup. What usually has been the Indians most consistent part of the order was anything but solid on Saturday. Jason Donald, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo went a combined 1-for-9 with five strikeouts.
- Kipnis still out of lineup. Jason Kipnis sat out his third straight game yesterday with a stiff neck. While he could come off the bench as a pinch hitter on Sunday, a more reasonable return date for the Indians second baseman is on Monday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Player of the Game: Brent Lillibridge (3-for-4 with a double, home run and 2 RBI)
The Bottom 3
With the Tribe victory and White Sox loss on Saturday, Cleveland (53-61) is now nine games in back of Chicago in the Central Division. After losing 11 straight games earlier this month, the Indians quietly won three of their last four ballgames.
Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will try and go for the series win on Sunday, as it will be Corey Kluber (0-0, 6.10 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (5-10, 5.36 ERA) at 1:05 pm. In his last start against Minnesota, Kluber went six solid innings giving up just one earned run on six hits picking up a no decision. Lester is 4-1 with a 3.53 ERA over 58 2/3 innings against the Tribe in his career.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.