By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Baseball is a funny game with some comical unspoken rules.
Apparently, Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber didn’t like Red Sox second baseman Eduardo Nunez taking a viscous cut at his 2-0 offering in the eighth inning on Wednesday night.
Nunez, who was 1-for-3 with a strikeout and an infield single when he came to bat with one on and one out in the top of the eighth, nearly swung himself out of his shoes on an 89 MPH Kluber cutter. The very next pitch, Kluber put one between his shoulders.
It’s somewhat hard to believe Kluber did this on purpose, given Boston owned a 1-0 lead at the time and in plunking Nunez, gave Boston a runner in scoring position. But the Cleveland ace had superb control throughout the evening, as he does nearly every time he takes the hill, tossing 75 of his 114 pitches for strikes. Chances are the pitch went exactly where he wanted.
It’s an old-school approach, one of those silly unwritten rules in baseball. In the end, Nunez and the Red Sox had the last laugh. Brock Holt scored from second a batter later on a Mookie Betts RBI single, giving Boston a 2-0 lead and knocking Kluber out of the game. That run was extremely meaningful, as Edwin Encarnacion homered in the bottom of the inning to make it a 2-1 game.
Nunez blasted a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to break the game wide open, his sixth since arriving in Boston, and the Red Sox went on to win 6-1. He told reporters after the game that he didn’t think Kluber beaned him on purpose (though his reaction in the heat of the moment says otherwise), and he was actually highly complimentary of the Cleveland righty.
“Kluber’s one of the best pitchers in the game,” Nunez said. “We just tried to fight him and put up good at-bats.”
The Red Sox close their four-game set in Cleveland on Thursday night with Chris Sale on the mound. The Boston ace was at the top of the dugout when Nunez was plunked on Wednesday night, so we’ll see if he has anything to say about Kluber’s errant pitch come Thursday evening.