By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 4-3 Indians: Travis Shaw couldn’t do it. He swung through a 3-1 fastball, and on the full count, he flew out to shallow right field. Game over, series over. The Indians are moving on. David Ortiz’s career is over. The playoffs can be very cruel.
Bottom 9th, 2 outs, 4-3 Indians: Dustin Pedroia swung at a 3-1 pitch over his head, but he took ball four away on the next pitch. Allen looks gassed. Here comes Travis Shaw with two on and two out. A base hit ties the game. An extra-base hit wins it.
Bottom 9th, 2 outs, 4-3 Indians: Bradley lined a single into right field with a full count. It’s his first hit of the series. Dustin Pedroia now stepping up.
Bottom 9th, 2 outs, 4-3 Indians: Sandy Leon got ahead in that at-bat. But then he lost.
He missed on a 94 mph fastball on 3-1, and then he watched as strike three passed by on the inside edge.
Bottom 9th, 1 out, 4-3 Indians: Cody Allen looks much better in the ninth. He threw two perfect pitches to get ahead of Young 0-2, before throwing a breaking ball in the dirt down and away. He then went back to the breaking ball and got Young to fly out harmlessly to left field for the first out of the inning. Young may have been on the front foot on that breaking ball.
Middle 9th, 4-3 Indians: Pitching in non-save situations has been a problem for Craig Kimbrel, but I think the adrenaline was turned up a notch for that appearance. It sure looked like it, as Kimbrel was unhittable that inning. Strikeout, strikeout, foul pop-out, and the Red Sox are down to their last at-bat.
Cody Allen looked very shaky in the eighth. If his nerves haven’t settled, this one could get whacky real quick.
End 8th, 4-3 Indians: Xander Bogaerts fouled off a few pitches before squaring up an offering from Allen, but unfortunately for Bogaerts, he hit it right to Kipnis. The second baseman caught the line drive, ending the inning and pushing this one to the ninth.
The Sox are within one, but the bottom of the order is due up next inning.
Bottom 8th, 2 outs, 4-3 Indians: Ortiz ended up walking on four pitches, which disappointed the home crowd. But Ortiz made sure to hype them up by telling everybody in attendance to make some noise when he got to first base.
It might have helped, as Cody Allen threw two balls to start off Hanley Ramirez. He then sat dead red on a fastball and ripped it past a diving Lindor, singling home Betts and bringing Fenway to its feet.
Ortiz was just lifted for pinch runner Marco Hernandez with Bogaerts at the plate.
Bottom 8th, 2 outs, 4-2 Indians: Jose Ramirez has played some outstanding defense tonight, and the play he just made on Mookie Betts just might turn out to have won this game.
With Travis Shaw (pinch hitter for Hill, single) on first base, Betts sent a laser down the third base line against reliever Bryan Shaw. Ramirez managed to field the ball while dropping to a knee. He quickly spun and delivered a strike to second base to cut down the lead runner.
Cleveland couldn’t turn two on the play, but that was some defense by Ramirez, who’s made two nice plays tonight.
Francona is now going to his closer, Cody Allen, to face David Ortiz, who is the tying run, with two outs in the ieght.
Middle 8th, 4-2 Indians: The 2013 version of Koji Uehara just took the mound, as he made short work of the Indians that inning. Mike Napoli looked at a called strike three, Jose Ramirez hit a deep fly ball to right field that was tracked down by Betts, and Lonnie Chisenhall hit a slow roller to short, which was barehanded by Bogaerts and thrown to first for the out.
That was three up, three down on 14 pitches from Uehara. The Red Sox now have Pedroia, Hill and Betts due up in the eighth, with just six out left to save the season.
End 7th, 4-2 Indians: John Farrell decided to go with Chris Young as a pinch hitter for Andrew Benintendi, and it worked. Temporarily. Young worked a one-out walk against Miller. Farrell got his guy on base. But the problem was that Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley were due up next.
Leon lined out to third, Bradley struck out, and that was that.
Farrell will surely get criticized for removing Benintendi from the game, but it’s not really a terrible move to take a rookie left-handed hitter out of the game when the nastiest left-handed pitcher in baseball is on the mound.
The suggestion that it should have been Leon or Bradley to get pinch hit for is fair, but you have to remember that Farrell isn’t exactly working with the deepest of benches. I suppose that’s the type of situation where you’d like to have great confidence in the manager’s in-game moves, but I’d say he was bound to run into trouble that inning regardless.
Middle 7th, 4-2 Indians: Joe Kelly has been the lone bright spot on the Boston pitching staff this postseason, and he just retired the Indians in order. Kelly has pitched 1.2 perfect innings tonight, after pitching two perfect innings combined in Games 1 and 2.
Bogaerts, Benintendi and Leon are due up in the bottom of the seventh. I wonder if John Farrell might hit for Leon, who has not looked good at all at the plate this series.
End 6th, 4-2 Indians: OK, well, there is life. After Aaron Hill (pinch-hitting for Holt) struck out, Betts stepped up and launched a towering blast to left field that looked destined for the seats. But the wind apparently played with it a bit, keeping it in the ballpark. Pedroia made it to third, bringing up Ortiz with runners on second and third and one out.
Ortiz has struggled against Miller quite a bit (as have most people), but he sat on a breaking ball on a 2-1 count and sent a screamer to shallow center. Rajai Davis was able to make the catch on the run, but Pedroia tagged and scored easily to cut the Cleveland lead to 4-2.
That was a positive, especially considering the damage was done against Miller. But it ended there, as Ramirez swung and missed at a 2-2 breaking ball to end the inning.
Bottom 6th, 4-1 Indians: Dustin Pedroia led off the sixth with a single past a diving Lindor, and that’ll end the night for Tomlin. Terry Francona is going to Andrew Miller.
Tomlin allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out four over five-plus innings. He’s allowed one run, with Pedroia representing the possible second. All things considered, that was as good a start as the Indians could have expected out of Tomlin.
Now the Red Sox face the unenviable task of dealing with Andrew Miller.
Middle 6th, 4-1 Indians: Joe Kelly retired the two batters he faced — pinch hitter Rajai Davis on a popout to shallow right, and Perez on a slow chopper to the left side of the infield. But it’s all about the Boston bats now. Top of the order coming up.
Top 6th, 1 out, 4-1 Indians: All that positivity and good feeling created in the bottom of the fifth? Gone. The Red Sox now trail by three.
Coco Crisp — yes, Coco Crisp — launched a two-run blast over the Monster in left-center field, doubling the Indians’ run total and sending Fenway into a stunned state of silence. Pomeranz left a curveball right over the heart of the plate, and Crisp made him pay.
Pomeranz opened the inning by walking Ramirez. But that home run was a killer.
Joe Kelly is on to pitch in relief.
End 5th, 2-1 Indians: The Red Sox are on the board.
Bogaerts smoked a line drive single to center field with one out, and Benintendi came to the plate. The rookie sent a sky-high fly ball to left field, one that looked like it might not have enough to scrape the wall. But Coco Crisp kept moving back, and Bogaerts turned on the jets. The ball did kiss the Monster, and the Indians didn’t seem to think Bogaerts would be breaking for home. Bogaerts slid slafely headfirst into home, giving the Sox a run and some life.
The aggressive running from Bogaerts (and third base coach Brian Butterfield) looked particularly prescient by inning’s end, as Leon struck out swinging and Bradley grounded out to first to end the inning.
Middle 5th, 2-0 Indians: Drew Pomeranz had himself a nice inning, retiring Kipnis (strikeout), Lindor (popout) and Napoli (strikeout) in order.
Ramirez, Bogaerts and Benintendi will be up in the bottom of the inning, tasked with trying to jump-start an offense that’s looked dead in the water since the start of Game 2.
End 4th, 2-0 Indians: The Red Sox needed a spark — something, anything — in the bottom of the fourth. Instead they got nothing.
Brock Holt took a fastball for strike one right down the chute, a changeup at the bottom of the zone for strike two, and a fastball at the waist that split the plate for strike three. It wasn’t the start to the inning the Red Sox were hoping for.
Betts then lined out to right on the second pitch of his at-bat, while Ortiz, following a swing for the downs, grounded out sharply down the first-base line.
Tomlin is through four innings on just 45 pitches. Andrew Miller is also looming in the bullpen to bridge the Indians to the late innings, though at this point there’s not been any reason for Francona to go away from Tomlin.
Drew Pomeranz is now in to replace Buchholz.
Middle 4th, 2-0 Indians: Clay Buchholz found himself in trouble that inning. This time, he couldn’t get out of it.
Jose Ramirez led off with a single, followed by a Lonnie Chisenhall walk. Coco Crisp then bunted the runners over, bringing up Tyler Naquin. Naquin didn’t wait around, swinging at the first pitch for strike one and then singling into right field on the next pitch. The single drove in two runs, and the Indians had themselves a lead.
It could’ve gotten worse, as Roberto Perez’s grounder to second required a diving stab by Pedroia. The second baseman made the dive to his left, so he couldn’t turn two, but he retired Perez at first for the second out of the inning.
The top of the order came up in Santana, and Buchholz won a lengthy battle in getting him to swing over a curveball for strike three.
It wasn’t a great inning, but it could’ve been worse. But just like Game 2, if this is all the Boston offense has, then it doesn’t really matter all that much how the starting pitcher performs.
Holt, Betts and Ortiz are due up, looking to get those runs back quickly.
End 3rd, 0-0: The Red Sox are making Josh Tomlin look like Madison Bumgarner tonight.
Sandy Leon struck out on just three pitches, looking at a fastball over the plate. Jackie Bradley then struck out, though he last six pitches. He, too, stared at a fastball. Pedroia then took a hack at the first pitch, and grounded to the left side of the infield. Ramierz made a nice stab, spinning and throwing to first to end the inning.
Tomlin’s allowed just one hit and one walk through three innings, needing just 37 pitches to do it.
This is the same Josh Tomlin who posted a 4.40 ERA this season, mind you.
Middle 3rd, 0-0: Clay Buchholz looks sharp tonight, and he looks locked in. He hasn’t been perfect, as evidenced by Lindor’s two-out double off the Monster in this inning, but he’s been able to win at-bats thus far through the night. He got Santana to weakly ground out to third to start the inning before blowing away Kipnis with a high four-seamer.
Lindor lofted one off the Monster for a two-bagger, but Buchholz came back to get Napoli to roll over a ball to third. Holt’s throw to Ramirez was short, but Ramirez looked like a veteran first baseman in making the scoop to end the inning.
It’s early and there’s a long way to go, but Buchholz to this point has been the best starting Sox pitcher of the series. (That’s an admittedly low bar, but you know … )
End 2nd, 0-0: The Red Sox had something going there, courtesy of Josh Tomlin’s first walk since Aug. 25. The right-hander walked just 20 batters all year long, but he missed inside consistently with the breaking ball to David Ortiz, walking him on five pitches.
After Hanley Ramirez flew out to center, Xander Bogaerts stayed on a breaking ball over the plate and lined it off the Monster in left. Ortiz moved up to second, bringing up Andrew Benintendi with two on and one out.
Benintendi made solid contact, but the Indians were aligned perfectly. Lindor easily fielded the three-hopper behind second base, stepped on the bag and threw on to first for an inning-ending double play.
Tomlin’s at 27 pitches through two. Buchholz enters the third at 35.
Middle 2nd, 0-0: Clay Buchholz once again pitches around a little trouble, after Chisenhall smoked a line drive up the middle off the glove of a diving Brock Holt (in the shift) to lead off the inning.
Buchholz got Coco Crisp to fly out to deep left-center, followed by Tyler Naquin staring at a fastball for strike three. Roberto Perez then came up and grounded out to third base. Holt threw to second to get Chisenhall, and Buchholz is through two.
Expect a rather loud ovation when David Ortiz steps to the plate this inning.
End 1st, 0-0: Mookie Betts made solid contact with two outs, but his liner was snapped by right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, who got a good jump on the ball and broke in on contact.
The lineout came after Pedroia rolled out to third and Holt grounded softly to second, thus giving Tomlin a 1-2-3 inning on just 11 pitches.
Middle 1st, 0-0: After the misplay by Bogaerts, Buchholz got Jason Kipnis to chase a change-up in the dirt for strike three. Francisco Lindor hit a soft line drive single into shallow left-center field to set up a two-on, one-out situation for Mike Napoli.
Napoli hit an absolute bomb foul to start the at-bat, making it three out of four Cleveland batters to swing at the first pitch. Napoli ended up hitting a sharp liner to right, but it was right at Mookie Betts for the second out.
With a chance to get out of the inning, Buchholz faced Jose Ramirez, starting him off with a curveball in the dirt for ball one. He went back to the breaking ball but missed inside for ball two. The next pitch was a changeup well off the plate away for ball three. Ramirez then took a fastball on the outer edge of the plate for strike one. On the 3-1 pitch, Buchholz went with a breaking ball, which Ramirez rolled right over to second base to end the inning.
Credit Buchholz for pitching around that gaffe to keep Cleveland from getting an early lead.
Pedroia, Holt and Betts are coming up looking to get an early lead for Boston.
Top 1st, 0-0: Clay Daniel Buchholz throws the first pitch of Game 3 to Carlos Santana, who hits a sky-high pop-up to third base. With Xander Bogaerts the only player in the area due to the shift, Bogaerts got a bad read on the ball and the wind, and it came flying down in fair ground behind the third base bag and past the outstretched dive of Bogaerts. Santana reached first, because he didn’t move out of the batter’s box until the ball was on its way down.
Bogaerts — who moved into foul ground and then had to dive back to his left — never got any leather on the ball, so it goes down as a hit. Adversity for Buchholz early.
6 p.m.: Closing in on first pitch at Fenway, now just minutes away. The Indians know they can really up the pressure if they come out swinging in the first inning and get Buchholz into some trouble. The Red Sox are just hoping Clay can get three quick outs so the bats can step up and try to bash Tomlin around the ballpark.
Kind of a simple thing when you spell it out like that.
4:40 p.m.: The Red Sox this season scored 878 runs, which came out to 5.42 runs per game. They’ve scored four runs combined in two games this series.
For the first time ever, the Red Sox lineup featured a trio of players — Ortiz, Betts, Ramirez — with 30 home runs and more than 100 RBIs.
The Red Sox haven’t had three players with 105-plus RBIs (that same trio) since 1950, a year when the Red Sox scored a franchise-record 1,027 runs, went 94-60, but was only good enough to finish third in the American League.
Interestingly, of the Red Sox’ highest-scoring seasons, seven of nine ended with zero playoff wins. This year marked the 10th-highest run total, and is currently a threat to likewise end without even one win in the playoffs. The 1950, 1996, 1948, 1938, 1949 and 1939 teams didn’t even make the playoffs, while the 2005 team got swept out of the ALDS.
Just two of the Red Sox’ top 15 offensive seasons — 2004, third; 2017, 15th — ended with World Series titles.
Conversely, five of the team’s 10 seasons in terms of runs allowed ended with World Series championships. You’re dealing with shorter seasons way back in the early 20th century, obviously, but the history does point out how offense has been unreliable in terms of dictating postseason success, whereas teams carried by pitching and defense have brought about more success.
Of course, the history will have no bearing on this evening’s affairs, but it’s all interesting — at least, I found it interesting.
2:05 p.m.: Tonight’s Red Sox lineup is out, and it looks pretty familiar:
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. Andrew Benintendi, LF
8 . Sandy Leon, C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
— Clay Buchholz, RHP
That’s the same lineup that put up a goose egg in Game 2 in Cleveland. Maybe some home cooking at Fenway Park will get the bats going.
Bradley Jr. is 3-for-7 with a homer against Cleveland’s starter Josh Tomlin. David Ortiz is just 3-for-17 against Tomlin, but all three of those hits have left the yard.
Elsewhere, the Red Sox have named Rick Porcello as their Game 4 starter, if they make it there.
12 p.m.: Everything — from spring training through the opening months through the dog days of summer through the pennant chase of September — it all comes down to today.
Baseball is cruel in that 162 games — nearly 500 hours of baseball — can all be wiped away in a matter of just three games. Ask the Texas Rangers about that.
Today, the Red Sox hope to avoid the fate of the Rangers by staving off elimination, beating the Indians, and inspiring some confidence that this season won’t be remembered for its disappointingly brief postseason appearance. (Related story: Has anything ever been “staved off” other than elimination? I don’t believe so.)
So in many ways, the pressure falls on Clay Buchholz, but more pressure should be placed upon the Boston bats. After demolishing pitching all season long, those bats have gone cold. Anyone who expected the Red Sox to accomplish anything this October knew that it would have to come from the offense much more than the pitching, so if the bats don’t show up today against Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA), it’ll likely end the season.
That may be a bit of doom and gloom, but that’s what happens when a team is in a 2-0 hole. There’s absolutely no room for error, and there’s no time to waste. Will we see the real Red Sox show up this afternoon? We’ll find out shortly after 6 p.m.
Be sure to stay here in the live blog from pregame all the way through the final update for updates and analysis as the Indians look to sweep the Red Sox out of the ALDS.