Red Sox

Chris Sale battered in Red Sox' 13-6 loss to Indians

red_sox_chris_sale_082417.jpg

Chris Sale battered in Red Sox' 13-6 loss to Indians

CLEVELAND -- Chris Sale pitching against Cleveland's injury-riddled lineup looked like a mismatch Thursday night.

Mismatch, indeed.

Boston's ace was battered while matching the shortest start of his career, and rookie Yandy Diaz got four hits as the Indians beat the Red Sox 13-6 in a matchup of division leaders.

Sale (14-6) was tagged for seven runs on seven hits and three walks in just three innings. The Indians, held to a combined four hits by the Red Sox in the previous two games, erupted against one of the top contenders for the AL Cy Young Award and roughed up Boston's bullpen.

The Indians scored four times in the second inning and added three more in the second as Sale's problems against Cleveland continued. The All-Star lefty is 5-8 with a 4.87 ERA in 29 career appearances vs. the Indians.

Finding an explanation for these numbers was elusive following the game.

"If I knew why they are having so much success, I'd change it," Sale said.

Said Indians manager Terry Francona: "When you figure this game out, you can tell me."

"I don't know, because I guarantee you, our guys aren't, `Oh good, Sale's pitching,'" he said.

Diaz was 4 for 4 and fell a home run short of the cycle and Giovanny Urshela drove in a career-high four runs. Jay Bruce and Francisco Lindor homered as the Indians had 18 hits, one short of their season high.

Sale gave up six earned runs in this loss, the fourth time he'd ever gone only three innings. He yielded a season-high seven earned runs in five innings against the Indians on Aug. 1 at Fenway Park.

"You saw the pitches they hit, they were center-cut, everything was right there," Sale said. "I do feel good, so I should be getting better results."

Trevor Bauer (13-8) allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings and won his sixth straight decision.

Mitch Moreland homered twice for Boston and drove in four runs in the 11th multihomer game of his career.

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts exited in the seventh inning with a bruised right knee after a diving attempt for Jose Ramirez's double.

"I initially hit the wall on the triple (by Diaz in sixth), then I landed on the same spot," Betts said. "There was no twisting or anything, just impact. It just kind of swelled up."

Indians first baseman Carlos Santana missed his third straight game because of back tightness. Cleveland is also playing without second baseman Jason Kipnis (strained right hamstring), and outfielders Michael Brantley (sprained right ankle) and Lonnie Chisenhall (strained right calf).

The Indians were held to one hit by Boston's Doug Fister on Tuesday - a leadoff home run by Lindor. Cleveland had three hits Wednesday, with the only run coming on Edwin Encarnacion's homer.

Sale also had to dodge a piece of a broken bat that sailed past the mound in the second. Urshela's bat shattered while hitting a grounder up the middle, causing Sale to lean out of the way.

INSIDE PITCH

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn't mince words when asked about Indians ace Corey Kluber hitting Eduardo Nunez with an eighth-inning pitch Wednesday.

"With his pinpoint control, I think that was a fairly obvious message," Farrell said.

Kluber retired the first two hitters in the inning that began with Boston leading 1-0. Brock Holt walked and Nunez was hit by a 3-1 pitch. Betts followed with an RBI single and Kluber was pulled.

SLUMP BUSTER

Ramirez broke an 0-for-17 skid with a first-inning single and added a double in the seventh.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee inflammation) will take infield practice Friday at Fenway Park, marking his first outdoor work since going on the disabled list on Aug. 9.

Indians: Francona said the team is working through a rehab plan for LHP Andrew Miller (right knee tendinitis). The ace reliever is on the DL for the second time this month with the injury.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello opens a three-game home series with Baltimore. He has won a season-high four straight starts, striking out 23 over 24 1/3 innings with a 4.07 ERA.

Indians: LHP Ryan Merritt begins a three-game set against Kansas City. He will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to make his first career start at Progressive Field.

Drellich: Red Sox identity, standing as league's best will be tested

Drellich: Red Sox identity, standing as league's best will be tested

The greatest question the Red Sox face entering the second half of the season — well, final two-fifths, really — whether they’re good enough to avoid a Wild Card game. Whether they hold on to the American League East and keep the Yankees at bay. 

How many wins the Sox (68-30) wind up with does not matter outside of that context. A 105-win season would look plenty disappointing if it gives way to a loss in the only playoff game the Sox play in 2018.

Lurking in the background is more of a question of context and remembrance. Will these Sox eventually be recalled for something other than being outrageously good? 

They do not need to be, mind you. No team needs to do anything besides win (and act responsibly and benevolently as citizens, you could also say). This is the best team in baseball, with 64 games left on its schedule. They arrive, they rake and shove, they do it again the next day. It's 2007 all over again.

“It’s a very weird feeling in the clubhouse,” J.D. Martinez said in Washington D.C., during the All-Star Game festivities. “From the moment I got into spring training, it’s like everyone goes out there and whether we’re losing by a lot or we’re winning by a lot, the mood is always the same. There’s never any panic. 

"There’s no really like highs and lows it seems like in the clubhouse. It’s just everything is kind of like, even-keeled. So to me it’s like, it’s almost like that’s who we are: we’re playing like how we’re supposed to be playing."

The Sox are not underdogs with the highest payroll in baseball. They’re not all bearded. There are no reports of Jack Daniels shots prior to games. There’s certainly no curse to be broken, or any other broad backdrop, aside from the desire to avenge early exits in 2016 and 2017.

None of those threads are necessary for enjoyment, although they can act as an enhancement. Perhaps there’s a blue-collar narrative to be found here, if you can ignore the highest payroll in baseball. 

“Ah man, I don’t know,” Martinez said when asked about identity. “I feel like this is a very close group. It almost feels like a family. Everyone’s rooting for each other. I don’t know if I can put a label on it, it’s just, everyone always wants to grow and get better. Everyone’s always asking questions, and continuing to just not be satisfied I feel like in their own. They always want to get better. It’s been fun.”

The questions for Martinez and Mookie Betts didn’t stop at the All-Star Game, either. Both players will be high vote-getters in the American League MVP race, and Betts may well win. The duo, led by Martinez’s methods as well as hitting coach Tim Hyers, seems to have figured something out, a hitting approach that maximizes their off-the-chart talents.

“There’s a lot of hitting talk, but it’s not necessarily, ‘How do you do it?’” Betts said when asked if All-Stars were trying to understand what he and Martinez have been doing. “It’s the approaches and what not that you use. Just passing along information, that’s how everybody gets better. Everybody wants to get better.”

Hard to imagine the Sox actually getting better, given it would be a shock if they did not win 100 games. The Sox need to play .500 ball the rest of the way to reach that vaunted mark.

Martinez was asked if the Sox have peaked.

“I don’t know, you can always get better, right?” he said. “But we have a good team. I think we’re a very versatile team. I always say this: like, this is a team that can beat you in multiple ways. You can have someone throw a shutout and us put up one run. Or you know, us go out there and put up 10 runs and us win. You know the bullpen comes in, shuts the door. 

“We can steal bases. We can manufacture runs. It’s a team that’s not dependent on winning on one way. I kind of remember when I was in Detroit it was like, we had to slug. That was what we had to do to score. Here, it’s different.”

But, again, being good, or being different, or improving from this point really matters in only one context: the Yankees (62-33). They’re the only other team that can with East. And the prize associated with clinching the division — avoiding a one-game Wild Card berth — is tremendous. 

The Yanks sit 4 1/2 games back, with more games to play than the Sox down the stretch. Whether the Sox win 100 games, 110 games, really doesn’t matter outside of the magic and novelty associated with a big number. 

As of Wednesday, the Red Sox had a 58.1 percent chance to win the division, per Baseball Prospectus’ daily playoff odds. The Yanks were at 41.9 percent. They next meet in the first week of August at Fenway Park.

"We have a long way to go," Betts said. "We have to take these couple days to heal up, rest up and get ready to go."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Orioles trade Manny Machado to Dodgers for five prospects

machado.jpg
File Photo

Orioles trade Manny Machado to Dodgers for five prospects

The Dodgers are the winners of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, acquiring the ex-Orioles slugger in exchange for five prospects.

The prospects heading to Baltimore in the deal per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic are outfielder Yusniel Diaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-handed pitcher Zach Pop, right-handed pitcher Dean Kremer, and second baseman Breyvic Valera.

Machado, 26,  is enjoying another stellar season, hitting .315 with 24 home runs at the break. The Dodgers fill the void at shortstop left by Corey Seager, who is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May. Machado is set to be a free agent after the season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE