By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 5-4 Indians: It’s all over, and the Indians held on for the win. Here’s how the dramatic ninth inning played out:
Jackie Bradley went down swinging at a high fastball.
Sandy Leon looked lost while swinging at Allen’s breaking ball, so the pitcher kept throwing it until Leon struck out on a ball in the dirt.
Then it was time for the rookie. Andrew Benintendi watched as Allen dropped in a breaking ball for strike one. The pitcher tried it again, but Benintendi was ready, smoking a single through the right side of the infield.
Dustin Pedroia then fell behind 1-2. He fouled off a breaking ball. He took a ball high and away. He checked his swing on a high ball three. He fouled off a fastball.
And then on the third 3-2 pitch of the at-bat, Pedroia checked his swing on a breaking ball in the dirt. First base umpire Phil Cuzzi rung him up. Game over.
Replay showed Pedroia did indeed offer at the pitch, and so the call was correct. Pedroia didn’t like it, but that’s baseball.
The Indians bullpen really did a remarkable job tonight, and they now have a 1-0 series lead.
End 8th, 5-4 Indians: Koji Uehara pitched around an infield single by getting Chisenhall to roll into a 4-6-3 double play and then getting Crisp to ground out to Ramirez. It was a pretty impressive diving play by Ramirez, and he was fired up about it.
Now, Bradley, Leon and Benintendi are due up against Allen.
Middle 8th, 5-4 Indians: The drama remained high. But the home fans remain happy, as Xander Bogaerts looks absolutely lost at the plate tonight.
Ramirez moved the runner over to third with a sharply hit ground ball to second base, one that came at the end of a six-pitch battle. Bogaerts stepped to the plate with the tying run on third and two outs, and he flailed at strike two in the dirt before check-swinging at strike three. That’s his at least his third check swing of the evening, as he just cannot pick up anyone’s breaking ball. He’s 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Top 8th, 1 out, 5-4 Indians: There’s really nothing like playoff baseball. Once again, we got best vs. best. This time, David Ortiz won.
After corkscrewing himself into the ground with a ferocious swing on a 3-1 pitch from closer Cody Allen, Ortiz sent a laser beam into right-center field. The big man got on his horse from the get-go, and he was able to just beat the tag at second base. That hustle took a whole lot out of that man, but that’s what those three days of rest will get you.
The play was reviewed and upheld. Ortiz came off for pinch runner Marco Hernandez. A single from Ramirez here ties the game.
Top 8th, 5-4 Indians: We’ve got ourselves a tight ballgame, folks, after Brock Holt just skied a ball to right field that had enough carry to get out.
That’s the sixth home run in this game.
End 7th, 5-3 Indians: Joe Kelly does his job, going power-for-power against the big bat of Napoli. Though Napoli took some mighty cuts, he whiffed on a 98 mph heater from Kelly to end the inning.
If the Red Sox are going to do anything, it would presumably be now. Holt, Betts and Ortiz are due up.
Bottom 7th, 2 outs, 5-3 Indians: All in all, a pretty good showing for Pomeranz. He obviously gave up the single to the first batter he faced, allowing Cleveland to stretch the lead to 5-3, but he’s been solid since then. His night is over after allowing three hits and one walk while striking out five batters over 2.1 innings.
Joe Kelly is coming on to face Napoli with two outs and a runner on first.
End 7th, 5-3 Indians: Andrew Miller, have yourself a day.
He got Leon to hit a harmless dribbler back to the mound, and then he had Benintendi just guessing before striking out the rookie.
Miller started walking to the dugout as if he had recorded the third out, but perhaps that’s because he knew mentally that he was facing his last batter of the night.
Miller finishes his outing having pitched two innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out four.
Bryan Shaw entered the game to face Pedroia, who grounded out to first base.
End 6th, 5-3 Indians: Nice little inning for Drew Pomeranz, who got Crisp (swinging), pinch hitter Rajai Davis (swinging) and Perez (looking) to go down on strikes in order.
In surprising news, Miller is still in the game for Cleveland. Leon, Benintendi and Pedroia are due up.
Middle 6th, 5-3 Indians: Hanley Ramirez did not like the pitch that was called strike three. And he had a case. The pitch was probably an inch or so off the plate. Alas, being right in his disagreement with the home plate umpire doesn’t help much in the game, and Ramirez took a seat to start the inning.
Bogaerts then looked hapless against Miller, striking out on three pitches, the third a bouncer in the dirt. Then Bradley popped out, and that was that.
Miller threw 32 pitches, so he’s almost certainly finished for the evening. Francona now needs to bridge the next six outs (or maybe four or five) before going to closer Cody Allen.
That is, of course, if the Red Sox pitching staff can keep the game this close. It was more than a little bit shaky last inning.
End 5th, 5-3 Indians: It was not pretty, and it required a lucky bounce, but Pomeranz and the Red Sox escaped without further damage.
Pomeranz kept pounding Napoli with high fastballs. They were up and out of the zone, and Napoli certainly is susceptible to chase a few high strikes, but Pomeranz went to the well one too many times. Napoli clobbered a high fastball deep down the left field line. Kipnis might’ve been able to score on the play (it would have been a close play at the plate), but Napoli’s double bounced up and over the high fence, thus killing the play and forcing Kipnis to retreat to third base.
Pomeranz, who got Lindor to pop out following the Kipnis RBI single, then intentionally walked Ramirez to load the bases. With the pressure cooking, Pomeranz blew away Chisenhall to get him to strike out swinging.
Morale may be a bit down, but as the old saying goes, they’re just a bloop and a blast away from tying this game up.
The key now is to work to get Miller out of the game. He threw 17 pitches last inning.
Bottom 5th, 1 out, 5-3 Indians: It took all of two pitches for the Pomeranz move to go sour, as Kipnis sent a single back up through the middle. Bradley’s throw was again off line, and Perez slid in safely for the Indians’ fifth run.
Bottom 5th, 1 out, 4-3 Indians: Rick Porcello was the Red Sox’ best pitcher this year. He went 22-4 and was a legitimate Cy Young candidate. But tonight, he couldn’t do it.
His night is now over, with one out and a runner on second in the fifth inning. Perez led off with a single to deep left field, a ball that likely felt to Perez like it should have been a double. Perez made up for that slight from the baseball gods by reading Santana’s fly ball to left field well enough to believe he could tag and make it to second base. He succeeded, with Benintendi’s throw coming in a bit wide, thus creating the situation of one out with a runner on second for … Drew Pomeranz. Meat of the order coming up for Cleveland.
Middle 5th, 4-3 Indians: That didn’t go exactly as Francona had planned. But it worked well enough.
First, Holt stood still and got ahead 2-0 on pitches that weren’t close. On a 3-1 count, he sent a missile into the right-center field gap for a double. Suffice it to say, batting Holt second has worked out for Farrell.
So up came Betts, who fell behind 1-2 but managed to work a walk. With two runners on, David Ortiz stepped to the plate. He took a low strike before checking his swing to even the count at 1-1. Miller then threw that nasty breaking pitch down and away for ball two before painting the low and away corner with a fastball for strike two.
The Cleveland crowd rose to its feet, and Miller got Ortiz to chase that same pitch that was ball two, this time for strike three. Threat extinguished.
The Red Sox had their best two hitters come to the plate. The Indians had their best pitcher. As it tends to do, pitching won this round.
Top 5th, 2 outs, 4-3 Indians: Well, here’s a strange one. Terry Francona is calling upon his best reliever, Andrew Miller, in the fifth inning. If it were a high-leverage moment, it may make perfect sense. But there are two outs, nobody is on base, and Brock Holt is due up. Strange.
Presumably, Miller will be asked to get Holt and then attack the Betts-Ortiz-Ramirez meat of the order next inning. But still. Considering Bauer just got Pedroia to look silly while flailing at strike three, it’s not as if the pitcher had lost it. He only threw 78 pitches.
But he did give up a solo homer to Leon to lead off the inning, thus cutting the Indians’ lead to one.
End 4th, 4-2 Indians: Porcello looked much better that inning, getting the Indians to go down in order. Chisenhall and Naquin struck out for the first and third outs, with a Coco Crisp flyball to right mixed in between.
It’s Leon and Benintendi due up in the fifth before the top of the order.
Middle 4th, 4-2 Indians: Bauer has the Red Sox batters confused. After Ramirez smoked a one-out double down the line, Bauer got Bogaerts and Bradley to both strike out on check swings on low breaking balls. Bogaerts actually check swung on two straight pitches, but first base umpire Phil Cuzzi said he went on the second one.
Ortiz led off the inning with a sharply hit ground ball into the shift, and Bauer had his best inning since the second, when he also faced Bogaerts and Bradley. Those two aren’t seeing the ball too well out of his hand tonight.
End 3rd, 4-2 Indians: So it would appear that home runs to right field are the hit du jour this evening in Cleveland.
After Benintendi sent a solo shot to right in the top of the inning, the Indians have now mashed three separate solo homers to right field in the bottom of the inning. No. 9 hitter Roberto Perez led off with a bomb to right, followed by a ground-out by Santana. Kipnis then launched one over the fence, with Lindor making it back-to-back in the next at-bat to give Cleveland the 4-2 lead.
Farrell got Robbie Ross up in the bullpen, but Porcello was able to escape, thanks to the defense of Jackie Bradley. With two outs, Jose Ramirez sent a deep drive to left-center field. It looked like it could be trouble, but Bradley had it in his sights all the way and made a leaping grab while crashing into the wall for the inning’s final out.
As far as pitch count goes, Porcello’s at 53. But it’s the three homer (and four run) number that’s much more alarming.
Middle 3rd, 2-1 Red Sox: The game wasn’t tied for long.
Andrew Benintendi led off the inning and found himself ahead in the count 3-0. He took a strike and then uncorked on a fastball and crushed it into the seats in right field. It was a no-doubt-about it shot for the 22-year-old, and it gave the Sox a 2-1 lead.
Pedroia then lost a seven-pitch battle by going down looking, before Holt hit a lazy fly ball to left. Betts stepped up with two outs and nobody on, and he fell behind 0-2. After taking a ball high, he hit a harmless chopper to short to end the inning.
Bauer is now at 46 pitches through three innings.
End 2nd, 1-1: The Indians have tied it up, but the Red Sox benefited from the advancements in replay rules to clear the bases after Lonnie Chisenhall’s RBI single. Chisenhall tried to advance to second on Jackie Bradley’s throw home, but Leon threw down to second. The throw didn’t beat Chisenhall, but replay showed he came off the bag while Bogaerts held the tag. The Red Sox challenged, and won, despite a lack of overwhelming evidence.
But the Indians got their run, thanks to a leadoff double on a 3-2 count by Jose Ramirez. Chisenhall sent the single back up the middle, and Bradley’s throw home was brutally off line, allowing Ramirez to score.
After the replay review ruled Chisenhall to be out, Porcello got Crisp to line out to first and Naquin to strike out swinging.
Middle 2nd, 1-0 Red Sox: A much better and efficient inning from Bauer that time around, as he made short work of Bogaerts (dribbler up the first base line), Bradley (strikeout looking) and Leon (flyout to left).
He did it in just nine pitches.
End 1st, 1-0 Red Sox: Shaky start for Rick Porcello. And then pure dominance.
Porcello hit Carlos Santana in the foot to lead off the inning, but then he took out his paintbrush. He struck out the side, getting Kipnis, Lindor and Napoli to all go down swinging. He got the first and last with 94 mph heaters, while he went to a big curveball to get Lindor to swing through the 1-2 pitch.
Bogaerts, Bradley and Leon are due up for the Red Sox. Bauer needed 17 pitches to get through the first, while Porcello needed just 13, throwing 11 of those for strikes.
Middle 1st, 1-0 Red Sox: That was certainly an eventful first inning from the Red Sox. It began with a two-strike double to right field by Pedroia, followed up with a single through the right side by Brock Holt, who also got his hit with two strikes on him.
The Red Sox looked poised for a big inning, but Mookie Betts struck out for the first time since Sept. 12. Then David Ortiz hit a sky-high popup that didn’t even reach the first base bag.
With two outs, up stepped Hanley Ramirez, who drilled the first pitch he saw to left-center field. Pedroia trotted home, and Holt tried to score all the way from first. He was originally ruled safe, but the Indians challenged and replay review showed that the tag was put down on Holt’s leg when his finger was still about an inch from the dish. It was a well-executed relay, from Naquin to Lindor, to Perez. With two outs, it was definitely a worthwhile send by Brian Butterfield.
So a run comes off the board, but the Sox are ahead 1-0. Bauer left a lot of pitches up in the strike zone that inning, and the Red Sox made him pay.
Top 1st, 0-0: The first pitch from Trevor Bauer to Dustin Pedroia is a high strike, and this game — and series — is underway.
8:04 p.m.: All right, folks. Time for some baseball. It was nice of the early game in Texas to end in an expeditious fashion, so as not to distract from the game of the night.
7:33 p.m.: LeBron James, a client of some sort with Fenway Sports Management, isn’t letting his business interests dictate his rooting interests tonight.
5:45 p.m.: Last night, Curtis Granderson risked some serious injury by flying into the center-field wall at full speed. Today, Ian Desmond wasn’t so willing. He just let up on a deep drive by Troy Tulowitzki, and it was costly. The ball one-hopped the fence and three runs came around to score. The Blue Jays now lead 5-0 and look like they should be looking — like a very dangerous team.
5:30 p.m.: While the Blue Jays hold a 1-0 lead down in Texas, let’s look at a couple of facts, courtesy of Red Sox PR.
All time, the Red Sox are 19-13 in their 32 playoff series. They’re 6-4 in the ALDS, 5-5 in the ALCS, and 8-4 in the World Series.
David Ortiz has played in 73 postseason games, most in franchise history. Naturally, he’s also the team’s playoff leader in home runs (17), doubles (18), extra-base hits (37), hits (79), runs (51), RBIs (56), and walks (57). He’s done quite a bit in that career of his.
4:45 p.m.: The Red Sox lineup is out for tonight’s Game 1 … and the people aren’t too happy about it.
That’s at least the almost-universal reaction on Twitter to the news that Brock Holt would be starting at third base and batting second.
Here’s the full lineup:
1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
2. Brock Holt, 3B
3. Mookie Betts, RF
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Hanley Ramirez, 1B
6. Xander Bogaerts, SS
7. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
8. Sandy Leon, C
9. Andrew Benintendi, LF
The disagreement from many folks may stem from the fact that Holt’s .255 average ranks eight among Red Sox regulars, as does his .322 OBP. He started just seven games in the two-hole all year, hitting .188 with a .212 OBP and .431 OPS as the second hitter in the lineup. That’s a small sample size at just 33 plate appearances, but the wiser choice still appears to be Xander Bogaerts, who started 50 games in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
John Farrell’s kicking this series off with a decision that’s being questioned from the moment it was made. Playoff baseball. Let’s see your thoughts in poll form.
Here’s the Indians’ lineup:
1. Carlos Santana, DH
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
3. Francisco Lindor, SS
4. Mike Napoil, 1B
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B
6. Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
7. Coco Crisp, LF
8. Tyler Naquin, CF
9. Roberto Perez, C
First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. Check back here early and often for updates and analysis throughout the playoff-opening Game 1 in Cleveland.