First impressions of the Red Sox' 3-2 win over Cleveland:
Craig Kimbrel loves to live on the wild side.
As if Fernando Abad on the mound isn’t nerve-wracking enough, Kimbrel took it to another level in the ninth innng.
On to protect a one-run lead, he started his outing by hanging a breaking ball to Francisco Lindor that resulted in a leadoff double, putting the tying run in scoring position for two big-time power bats in Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana. He tried the curve again to Napoli and wound up walking him, putting the winning run on base with no outs.
Thankfully Kimbrel realized his fastball is his friend. He struck out Santana and pinch-hitter Jason Kipnis, then retired Abraham Almonte on a pop up to end the game.
This win is huge with everything else coming down the line
Given that the Sox have a weird night-day combination coming up -- in Baltimore on Wednesday night, in Detroit on Thursday afternoon -- they needed this one.
It also serves as a bit of validation. They’d just beaten the lowly Diamondbacks into submission, but they've been beating up on bad teams all season. This -- a one-game makeup against a division leader -- was a truer test, one their critics say they've been failing all year.
And yet they won, not with offensive fireworks but with the type of tight pitching and defense (and timely hitting) they'll need going forward.
Drew Pomeranz finally had a start worthy of his trade.
And against a good lineup, too.
Pomeranz got bailed out here and there, like when Jose Ramirez tried to steal third and was called out and thus was on the bench when Napoli followed with a double.
But all in all, Pomeranz pitched well against a playoff team with a high-powered offense.
This was the longest start of Pomeranz’s career.
That’s pretty shocking to consider, knowing what the Red Sox dealt to get him: A top-tier prospect for a pitcher who’s best outing ever was seven innings long. Rick Porcello and Steven Wright have done that on the regular all season.
Sending Travis Shaw on Pedroia’s single was one of Brian Butterfield’s worst calls this season.
First, Almonte had already shown off his rocket on Andrew Benintendi’s fly ball, nearly throwing Shaw out at second. If the scouting reports said Almonte couldn’t throw, he’d clearly proven otherwise
Second, and more important, Xander Bogaerts was due up next.
Obviously you want to take advantage of every opportunity -- especially with two outs -- but when you have your No. 2 hitter coming to the plate, with knowledge of Almonte’s arm, you need to play it safer.
David Ortiz’s attempt at another stolen base wasn’t smart.
First off it was on a 3-and-1 count -- with Mookie Betts up.
Second, even if his foot is feeling much better, is it worth risking an injury, given how much his foot has been a bother all year?
The Red Sox have already suffered one costly, unnecessary injury from a bonehead baserunning decision (Wright's dive back into second base against the Dodgers, which hurt his shoulder and landed him on the disabled list). They certainly don’t need another one.