How sweep it is! The Cleveland Indians held on to defeat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 to complete the sweep in the American League Division Series on Monday night at Fenway Park.
Solo home runs from Roberto Perez, Jason Kipnis, and Francisco Lindor in Game One. A three-run blast from Lonnie Chisenhall in Game Two. And the latest big knock for the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox came from perhaps the most unlikely of contributors: a deep, two-run shot over the Green Monster in left field from none other than Coco Crisp.
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Crisp’s homer gave the Tribe a 4-1 lead, and while the BoSox made a furious comeback aided by command issues from some of the relievers, it ended with Cleveland headed to the American League Championship Series, 4-3 winners.
Starter Josh Tomlin put in the performance of his life on the biggest stage he’s ever seen, allowing just two runs on four hits in five innings of work. The right-hander commanded the bottom of the strike zone as well as he had all season, and set the table for the bullpen to lock things down.
After having runners on base against Boston starter Clay Buchholz in each of the first three innings, Cleveland finally strung something together in the fourth to take a 2-0 lead. After Jose Ramirez singled to lead things off and Lonnie Chisenhall drew a walk, Coco Crisp laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both into scoring position. Tyler Naquin then came through with a two-run single to right.
The Red Sox got one back in the fifth when Xander Bogaerts collected his second single of the game and Andrew Benintendi sent a double off the Green Monster in left. They added another in the sixth when David Ortiz (playing the final game of his career) lined a sacrifice fly into center off Miller, who relieved Tomlin after Dustin Pedroia singled to open the frame.
Boston added a third run in the eighth on a Hanley Ramirez RBI single, but the Indians’ closer Cody Allen had just enough to gut out the save and send Red Sox fans home unhappy. Allen allowed the winning run to get on base in the bottom of the ninth, but a fly ball by Travis Shaw landed safely in Chisenhall’s glove for the final out.
The Little Cowboy Comes Up Big
Enough cannot be said about Tomlin’s performance. On Sunday, he said he was going to treat it like any other game, but he had perhaps his best outing of the entire season. Against the best offense in baseball, he painted corners, worked his breaking ball, and pitched ahead in the count ceaselessly.
As we wrote prior to the game, Tomlin had an opportunity to change the narrative of his season, and he did just that. He went from being an afterthought to a hero.
Trust in Tito
Indians’ manager Terry Francona has pushed all the right buttons at exactly the right times all season long, but it was especially impressive in the ALDS. Every move Tito made seemed to pay off.
Among them: going to the bullpen early in Game One, leaving Chisenhall in against the lefty David Price in Game Two, and in Game Three sticking with Crisp. Francona was already among the most respected managers in the game, but he put himself in a whole new class with the way he orchestrated his lineup, his starting rotation, and his relievers against Boston.
Cleveland now heads to the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays with a trip to the World Series on the line. The Indians have home-field advantage in the series, which will kick off on Friday night at 8:00 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on TBS.
It was one of the most gut-wrenching, nerve-wracking games this author has ever watched, but not a single Tribe fan would trade it for the world. This club that has been so scrappy all season long is one step closer to their ultimate goal.