CLEVELAND — The Boston Red Sox have scuffled for much of the season, but when you employ what the Indians did against them Sunday in the series finale at Progressive Field, they still look like world beaters.
Heck, who wouldn’t?
With Cleveland running out a lineup more suitable for a showdown against Boston’s Triple-A affiliate, Pawtucket, the results were predictable — the Indians got shellacked 14-1 to allow Boston to split the four-game series.
Cleveland trailed by four runs after two innings and by five after four before the Red Sox put an emphatic note on the rout with an eight-run fifth.
“It was catch-up baseball from the get-go,” said manager Manny Acta, whose minor league-esque starting nine included pitcher Corey Kluber, second baseman Jason Donald, left fielder Shelley Duncan, shortstop Brent Lillibridge, catcher Lou Marson and center fielder Ezequiel Carrera. “It’s not fun to go up to the plate when you’re already trailing by five or six runs.”
Putting the Indians in that precarious position was a dismal outing from Kluber, who allowed six runs on seven hits over 3⅓ innings of his third start since being promoted from Triple-A Columbus.
The right-hander served up a two-run home run to the fourth batter he faced, Adrian Gonzalez, who put Boston up 3-0, and it got worse — much worse — from there.
“Kluber just didn’t have command of his fastball,” Acta said. “Everything was up in the zone.”
Kluber certainly hasn’t impressed over his three big league outings — 0-1, 8.56 ERA — but Acta is reserving judgment until there is a larger body of work.
“It’s only been three games,” Acta said. “I’m not going to label him or make any knee-jerk reactions. He’s got good stuff. It’s a matter of learning the way here. It’s been three outings. I’m not going to write him off.”
The Boston massacre didn’t end with Kluber, as the Red Sox also put a pounding on former rotation member Josh Tomlin, who lasted just 1⅓ innings, allowing seven runs on five hits and two walks.
Pitching wasn’t a problem for the Red Sox, either.
Though left-hander Jon Lester has struggled all year — he entered the day 5-10 with a 5.36 ERA — he had little trouble with Cleveland’s pack of unproven hitters that included five players with a combined seven homers.
He shook off a run in the first to blank the Indians over the final five innings of hits outing, striking out 12 and allowing just three hits. Lester, who won for the first time since June 27, fanned five of the final six batters he faced, including the side in the fifth.
It was the largest margin of defeat for Cleveland this year, and its biggest loss at home since a 14-0 setback against the White Sox in July of 2004.
With the loss, the Indians fell to 9-21 since the All-Star break, accounting for the worst record in the American League over that span.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.
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