Red Sox complete sweep of Indians
CLEVELAND -- This wasn’t quite the way it was scripted.
Not coming off an an off-season that generated optimism. Not coming off the hiring of a World Series winning manager. Not coming off two wins in the season’s first two games.
The Indians now stand at 5-9. They’ve lost nine of 12, four in a row and three in a row to Boston.
Leadoff hitter Michael Bourn is watching with five stitches in his finger.
The No. 2 hitter (Asdrubal Cabrera) is hitting .127.
The original No. 3 hitter (Jason Kipnis) has missed four games, and was hitting .125 when he went on the shelf with a sore elbow.
That will throw a lineup out of whack, and the Indians lineup is out of whack.
A night after going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, they went 1-for-7 in the series finale. In the Boston series, the Indians were 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position. For the season, the Indians are .219 in those situations.
Their second and third hitters have a combined .134 average, and in nine of 14 games, the Indians have scored three runs or fewer.
“When you’re not on the scoreboard with regularity, you need a big two-out hit, and we never got that,” manager Terry Francona said.
Thursday it was Nick Swisher representing the tying run with two on and two out in the eighth. Swisher struck out swinging.
“Tough one,” Mark Reynolds said. “We just couldn’t get the big hits when we needed them. We had guys on base and didn’t come through.”
Boston, meanwhile, showed how to play the game. The Red Sox may have the best eyes in the history of baseball when it comes to balls and strikes, and time and again they went with good pitches to get opposite-field hits and RBI.
Mike Napoli even did the right-field approach, scoring a run in the seventh with a right-field poke.
Boston played smart offense, aggressive defense and had three strong outings from their starting pitching.
“They did pretty much what they wanted to this series,” Francona said.
Though the season is far from over, this is not the start Cleveland wanted. It finished the first homestand 2-6, and now the Indians go on the road for 10 games.
“Guys in here have been around,” Reynolds said. “We know what to do. There’s no press. We’re obviously not where we want to be, but we’re not in a bad spot.”
Reynolds said struggles are always magnified early in the season, and “one five-game winning streak takes care of everything we’ve been through this homestand.”
The next three games are at Houston, which entered Thursday 4-11 after being swept in Oakland.
“We’re not pressing,” Reynolds said. “We’re not worried. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re all right.”
Francona was more succinct.
“We need to go on the road and try to find ways to win games,” he said.