CLEVELAND — Indians manager Manny Acta was recently hard pressed to come up with a game that his team had played poorly in throughout its surprising start to the season.
He should have no trouble locating one now.
In what was a forgettable series finale with Boston on Wednesday afternoon, the Indians were beaten in every facet of the game, including the final score — a 14-2 shellacking by the Red Sox, who won the three-game set at Progressive Field despite dropping the opener.
It was the largest loss of the season for Cleveland, which was outhit 20-7 and committed two errors.
“Today was an uphill battle from the get go,” said Acta, whose team trailed 7-0 after the opening inning. “It’s not a very good feeling that before you even go to the plate you are down 7-0 to Jon Lester.”
Indians starter Mitch Talbot set the emphatic tone for the disastrous day.
The right-hander, who left the disabled list to start for just the third time this season, allowed eight runs on 12 hits over just three innings. He surrendered the seven runs in the first on nine hits, including a two-run home run to Dustin Pedroia — the second batter Talbot faced.
“It was a rough day for Mitch,” Acta said. “He was ahead in the count on one hitter. That pretty much sums it up for him. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff and they hit him hard.”
Talbot had not pitched since April 11, a strained right elbow sending him to the DL on April 17. He made three minor league rehab appearances, his last coming Thursday.
Talbot looked as though he could have used a few more rehab outings.
“We’re not going to make excuses for anybody,” Acta said. “We’ve never done it and we’re not going to start doing it now. He pitched five days ago, just in a different stadium.”
“It was rough,” Talbot said. “I wasn’t making my pitches. I wasn’t hitting my spots. It was just one of those days.”
Talbot said he felt fine physically, but didn’t get much of a workout, thanks to the brief and ineffective start.
“They almost didn’t let me get to my breaking stuff,” Talbot said. “They were swinging early and often, but again, I was giving them good pitches to hit.”
So was right-hander Frank Herrmann, who followed Talbot to the mound as the Boston assault continued.
Herrmann allowed six runs on six hits over 2 1/3 innings, surrendering three of Boston’s four homers on the day. The Red Sox bludgeoned Indians pitching for 10 extra-base hits, with eight of the nine players in the lineup producing multihit games.
Carl Crawford led the way with a 4-for-4 performance that included two doubles, a homer and two RBIs.
Lester had far less trouble handling Cleveland hitters.
The left-hander improved to 7-1 with a 3.36 ERA, shutting the Indians out on three hits, while striking out seven over six innings.
After striking out Matt LaPorta with runners on first and second to end the opening inning, Lester retired 14 straight before Asdrubal Cabrera doubled with one out in the sixth.
Boston led 14-0 at that point.
The Indians finally scored in the eighth inning, but they needed assistance from Boston to accomplish as much, Red Sox right fielder Mike Cameron misplaying a drive from Travis Buck that fell for a two-out double.
Shelley Duncan followed with a two-run single, but there was little to celebrate.
“It’s never fun. It’s never easy,” said second baseman Adam Everett. “Anytime you’re facing a team like that, they smell blood. They put it to us in that first inning. It’s just one of those days in baseball. It happens.
“We’re better than this. We know that. It’s just one of those days.”
At 30-17, the Indians still own the best record in baseball, entering the day with a six-game lead in the Central Division standings. Cleveland also still owns the best home record in the American League at 19-6.