Adam Eaton began the Sox surge with a single, then Melky Cabrera hit the ball back up the middle to keep the line moving. The game log will mention that Indians' pitcher Carlos Carrasco deflected the ball off of Melky's bat. To be more specific, Carrasco deflected the ball with his face. The replays were cringe-inducing, as he spent several minutes belly-down on the field before being carted off holding the left side of his face. Concern for Carrasco made it difficult to fully appreciate the circumstances in which the Sox had two runners on base to start the game.
But the show must go on! Zach McAllister picked up the pieces in long relief, first retiring Jose Abreu with three consecutive sliders out of the zone, followed by a fastball down the middle that got him looking. Both Sox runners advanced on a wild pitch, which allowed Eaton to easily score on an Adam LaRoche ground-out to second baseman Jason Kipnis.
Avisail Garcia quickly fell behind 0-2 in his first plate appearance, but worked five more pitches into a full count before muscling a base hit to center to bring in Melky. Garcia was caught stealing to end the inning -- a scene that's already becoming too familiar to Sox fans in this young season -- but the Sox took the lead 2-0, and that was all the offense they would need.
Jose Quintana's second start of the season wasn't entirely polished, but he managed to hold down the fort in six innings of three-hit work. He struck out six, walked two and allowed only one run over 104 pitches in a generally slow approach, as he consistently worked from the stretch.
Quintana and the Sox narrowly avoided an ugly first inning thanks to an outside strike-three call on Indians leadoff man Michael Bourn, rather than ball four takeyourbase. A similar pitch from McAllister in the top of the inning was even closer to the zone and deemed a ball, so the Sox got away with one as the potential leadoff runner retired to the dugout. I can't help but wonder where this game could have gone if that one pitch didn't go their way...
Ah, who cares! Mike Aviles singled to center and on the next play found himself in a cloud of baserunning brainfart, thinking there were two outs as Kipnis flew out to Eaton in center. Eaton threw the ball to first well ahead of the absent-minded Aviles, to end the inning cleanly.
The Indians offense put a run on the board in the fourth, stringing together a Jerry Sands single and a Ryan Raburn double. But the threat ended there as Quintana caught Perez looking at strike three; and in the top of the 5th, the top of the Sox order returned to the plate. Two quick groundouts on six total pitches brought up Abreu, who sent a 2-0 fastball to left field for his second home run of the season, thereby restoring the Sox lead to three runs halfway through the game.
Dan Jennings replaced Quintana in the seventh and struck out Moss and Raburn before snagging his stride on a walk to Perez. Jose Ramirez hit a grounder to Alexei, whose off-balance throw to first base resulted in runners at second and third. Luckily the second Sox throwing error of the game (the first from Gillaspie in the third) didn't lead to further damage, and the Sox escaped the seventh unscathed.
Zach Duke took the mound for the Sox in the eighth and immediately struck out Aviles. Kipnis worked a few extra pitches out of him in the following at-bat, but met the same swinging fate. Then Santana watched a strike-three 88-mph two-seam fastball cross the middle of home plate to complete Duke's half-inning of flawless work.
In the bottom of the ninth, David Robertson's fourth appearance of the season featured much of the same, as he struck out Sands in three pitches, on a curve that followed a four-seamer and a cutter. Moss was his next victim, swinging through strike three, and the game ended with a third and final strikeout of David Murphy.
- The bullpen combo of Jennings, Duke and Robertson was downright impressive tonight, combining for eight strikeouts in three innings of work. Sox pitching had 14 strikeouts in all, by comparison to just 5 K's for Indians pitchers.
- The baserunning struggles continued with the aforementioned Avi caught stealing in the first. In another moment of Grindiness Gone Awry, Eaton later roped a ball that rolled into the right field corner, and then ran himself out of an easy double by blindly blazing down the basepaths. His headfirst slide into third was close, but the relay throw from Kipnis was on the money and the top of the seventh inning ended there.
- Big sigh of relief as preliminary reports indicate that Carrasco did not sustain any serious injury (jaw contusion), though they'll continue to monitor him in upcoming days. I hope to see him back on the bump for Cleveland soon.