CLEVELAND — A matchup against left-hander Jon Lester on Thursday night was far from the perfect tonic for the Indians’ struggling offense. And, ultimately, a three-game visit from the Boston Red Sox did nothing to cure Cleveland’s losing ills.
With Lester offering up another quality outing, Boston wrapped up the series sweep with a 6-3 win at Progressive Field.
It was the fourth straight loss for the last-place Indians, who have dropped nine of their last 12 games after starting the season with two wins in Toronto.
More photos below.
The first-place Red Sox won their sixth straight game.
“Lester has a lot of ways of attacking hitters,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “When you’re not on the scoreboard with regularity, you need a big two-out hit, and we never got that.”
Struggling to score was an ongoing theme against the Red Sox. The Indians managed just eight runs during the series, while going 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
The Indians, who are 7-for-47 with runners in scoring position over their last eight games, have scored more than three runs in just two of their last seven games.
Much of Cleveland’s offensive efficiency had to do with a trio of Boston starters — left-hander Felix Doubront, right-hander Alfredo Aceves and Lester — and a lockdown Red Sox relief effort.
“They did pretty much what they wanted to with us,” Francona said. “If they pitch like that, they’re going to give a lot of people trouble.”
Lester, one of the league’s hottest pitchers to start the season, improved to 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA, allowing two runs on four hits, while striking out five over seven efficient innings. He entered the outing owning a 5-1 record and 3.34 ERA in 11 career starts against Cleveland.
The Indians failed to generate an RBI hit off Lester, scoring both runs on groundball outs.
“It was a tough one,” Indians designated hitter 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.”
The Indians got a mediocre and brief outing from starter Zach McAllister, who allowed three runs on six hits over five innings.
“He worked behind in the count a lot,” Francona said of his fourth starter, who threw 112 pitches. “He doesn’t have a ton of major league starts under his belt, but he competes. He doesn’t back down and he’s going to get better.”
“I threw too many pitches for the innings I pitched,” McAllister said.
The Indians were still within striking distance, trailing 3-2, before Boston put together a three-run seventh inning off Cleveland’s bullpen duo of Nick Hagadone and Bryan Shaw.
Hagadone allowed a leadoff single to Jacoby Ellsbury, with Shaw letting the runs in on base hits to Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes sandwiched around a sacrifice fly from Daniel Nava.
A highly anticipated opening homestand for the revamped Indians ended in disappointment, with Cleveland going 2-6 and getting swept by Boston and the Yankees — in a two-game series.
“We’re obviously not where we want to be, but we’re not in a bad spot,” Reynolds said. “We want to play better in front of our home fans, but at the same time we still have games on the road.
“It’s a little frustrating, but there’s some guys that will start swinging a little bit. There’s still a lot of baseball left. One five-game winning streak takes care of everything we’ve been through this homestand. We’re not pressing. We’re not worried. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re all right.”
It was a reunion of sorts for Francona, who managed against the Red Sox for the first time since he guided them to two World Series titles (2004, ’07) during an eight-year tenure.
The Red Sox arrived for the series opener a day after the bombing at the Boston Marathon.
“I didn’t enjoy the series much, but I never get tired of seeing people I care about,” Francona said.
- WHO: Cleveland vs. Houston
- TIME: 8:10
- WHERE: Minute Maid Park, Houston
- PITCHERS: Myers (0-2, 8.82 ERA) vs. Harrell (0-2, 5.63)
- TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM