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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Red Sox Beat Indians 5-2 in Series Opener at Fenway, See That Wasn't So Hard Guys

It still doesn't feel like summer (come on weather!) and the Red Sox are still scuffling like there's no tomorrow but at least they played well tonight. Boston (30-36 overall, 16-17 home) began a four-game series with Cleveland (33-34 overall, 12-23 away) and seven-game homestand at Fenway Park with a rare (in 2014) easy 5-2 victory.

Jon Lester (7-7) pitched like an ace, going 7.2 innings and allowing only two runs (one earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk. After Jason Kipnis (2 for 4) singled with two outs in the eighth, Lester was lifted after 109 pitches. Junichi Tazawa struck out the ghost of Carlos Santana (the baseball player) before a 1-2-3 ninth with one strikeout for Koji Uehara's 14th save (in 14 opportunities) of the season.

After the mediocre Indians swept the Red Sox last week in dumpy Cleveland, it was nice to see Boston come out with somewhat of a pulse as former Indians star Grady Sizemore had a ground-rule double in the second that scored Mike Napoli (2 for 4) for a 1-0 lead.

If any opposing manager in MLB could understand the danger of pitching to David Ortiz, you'd figure it would have to be Cleveland's Terry Francona (that still doesn't sound right) but for some odd reason, he let Josh Tomlin (4-3) go after him with two outs in the fifth and Jackie Bradley Jr. (single, walk, stolen base, 2 runs) on third base with first base open. You'll never guess what happened next! OK, a baby could, as Ortiz went deep to center for his 15th home run of the season and a 3-0 Red Sox advantage.

Cleveland's two runs in the sixth were a gift by multiple Red Sox as Lester couldn't handle a relatively easy throw at first base from Napoli then Kipnis lined a two-run single (generous ruling) under Dustin Pedroia's glove, a play that the Gold Glover normally makes in his sleep. Bradley Jr. made up for those miscues with an awesome catch of Michael Bourn's sinking line drive to center in the seventh then he doubled off "Friendly" Mike Aviles at first base for the third out.

Boston added a pair of insurance runs in the home half of the sixth on a two-run double by Brock Holt (2 hits). Daniel Nava was 3 for 4 in the win which is a monumental achievement given his alarming struggles in 2014. Even Jonathan Herrera got in on the act, well kind of, going 2 for 4 with a triple (his second extra base hit of the season!) and scoring a run.

It is supposed to rain all day tomorrow but if they get the game in, it will be John Lackey (7-4) vs. Justin Masterson (4-4) scheduled for a 7:10 p.m. start. Masterson pitched a gem (7 scoreless innings in a 3-2 win) against his former team last week at Progressive Field. He can't do that twice in a row, right?

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