After slogging through their longest losing streak in 20 years, the Boston Red Sox have joined some exclusive company for how well they’ve responded.
John Lackey takes the mound looking to continue his hot stretch as Boston seeks an eighth straight victory when its visits former manager Terry Francona and the surging Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
The Red Sox (27-29) dropped 10 straight from May 15-25 to fall nine games below .500, but they scored at least four runs for the sixth time during their winning streak with Sunday’s 4-0 win over Tampa Bay.
Brock Holt had a record-tying four doubles and drove in two runs after hitting his first major league homer in Saturday’s win, while Garin Cecchini and Alex Hassan recorded their first big league hits.
"We’re tapping into organization depth and guys are ready to contribute," manager John Farrell said. "It is a special day. I don’t know the last time two Red Sox players have gotten their first major league hits in a game."
Cecchini replaced Dustin Pedroia, who was ejected in the third inning after arguing over a called strike in his return from a one-game absence due to an injured right hand.
Boston’s latest win matched the 1942 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1989 Detroit Tigers for most consecutive victories following a double-digit losing streak.
Lackey (6-3, 3.27 ERA) will look to help keep the Red Sox rolling. He’s 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his last seven starts and hasn’t allowed a run in 13 1-3 innings over his previous two. He struck out nine in 6 1-3 innings of Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Atlanta.
The right-hander has allowed two runs or fewer in eight of his 11 starts.
"I’m going out there and trying to compete, trying to pitch the best I could every five days, regardless of what’s going on," he said. "As a starter, you only get 30-something chances a year, so you’ve got to respect those and take full advantage of them."
Lackey has made only one start against Cleveland since 2011, giving up one unearned run and two hits while striking out eight over seven innings of an 8-1 win May 24, 2013.
That was one of seven victories in eight meetings last season for Boston over its former manager Francona, whose team has won three straight following a four-game skid.
The Indians (27-30) earned their fourth walkoff win of the season Sunday when Michael Bourn hit a two-run homer in the ninth to beat Colorado 6-4. They scored 18 runs during the three-game series after totaling seven during their losing streak.
"We don’t give up," Bourn said. "We’ve got a lot of people who come out with their best every day. We just have to keep playing. It’s a long season."
Justin Masterson, who also briefly played for Francona in Boston, will be on the hill looking to end a dismal stretch.
Masterson (2-4, 5.21) had his last start cut short when rain interrupted Cleveland’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. He allowed one run and four hits while walking two over three innings.
Even when given the chance to make a full start, the right-hander has struggled. He’s 0-2 with a 9.98 ERA over his last three full outings, walking 11 with seven strikeouts over 15 1-3 innings in that span.
Masterson, acquired from Boston at the 2009 trade deadline, hasn’t pitched well against his former team recently, either. He’s lost three straight starts with a 7.94 ERA against the Red Sox, who have won four in a row at Cleveland.