August 24, 2017 – The Streak Begins
Indians were 5.5 games ahead of Minnesota in the Division. Their 70-56 record was 6.5 games back of Houston for the best in the League. However, they had just suffered two tough losses in which the bats could not get going. The Tribe lost the two previous games to the Red Sox 1-9 and 1-6.
Trevor Bauer was matched up with Sox’ ace Chris Sale. The Tribe got to Sale early and often. Jay Bruce and Brandon Guyer led off the bottom of the second with consecutive singles. Yandy Diaz drew a walk to load the bases. Roberto Perez scored Bruce on a line-drive single. Gio Urshela followed, and broke his bat bat on a grounder to short. Sale made a matrix-like move to avoid the biggest shard of bat as it whizzed by his head. Guyer scored and Diaz reached third, while Perez was forced out at second while Urshela hustled to first to avoid the double-play.
Francisco Lindor drove in Yandy with a line drive to left. Then, Austin Jackson stepped in and grounded one into the hole between second and third. Rafael Devers ranged over to catch it, but could not complete the throw to first. Jackson reached on the throwing error and Urshela scored the unearned run to put the Tribe up 4-0.
Mitch Moreland took Bauer deep to lead off the top of the third, but a greater Red Sox threat did not materialize.
In the bottom of the third, Yandy Diaz had an RBI double that scored Encarnacion. Two batters later, Gio Urshella drove in two with a timely single to center. Although Sale struck out Lindor to end the inning, his day was done.
Bauer gave up three runs in the bottom of the fourth, when Xander Bogarts lined a triple into left field and Mitch Moreland singled him home. With those highlights, the Sox closed the gap to 4-7.
The bottom of the order combination struck again in the bottom of the fifth, when Yandy Diaz singled, Roberto Perez walked, and Gio Urshella dropped a single into left to extend the Indians lead to four runs.
Jay Bruce uncorked the game’s first home run in the bottom of the sixth, followed by a Yandy Diaz triple. Roberto Perez doubled to score Diaz.
Blaine Boyer began the seventh inning pitching for the Red Sox. After a leadoff home run by Francisco Lindor, Boyer loaded the bases. Fernando Abad came in from the bullpen. During the pitching change, Boston made some changes in the field including brining Rajai Davis off the bench and into left field.
Davis, who had just been acquired by Boston a few days earlier, received a standing ovation from the Progressive Field crowd. Later in the inning, Yandy Diaz scored Jose Ramirez on a line drive to right field, but was thrown out to end the inning trying to stretch the hit into another triple.
Despite a 8th inning Sox home run by Mitch Moreland, the Indians cruised to an 13-6 victory. This was the first in the record-setting win streak of late 2017. We will visit the streak several times in the remainder of the project. Suffice to say that this win turned the momentum from those bad beats at the hands of the Red Sox and ignited the team–especially the bottom of the order.
Yandy Diaz finished the game with two doubles, a triple, and four runs scored. Gio Urshella had four RBI on two hits. Roberto Perez was 3 for 4 with two RBI.
On beating up the MLB strikeout-leader Francona said, “I guarantee you our guys aren’t like, ‘Oh, good, Sale is pitching.’ He’s had his way with us as all good pitchers do. We have probably done better than most teams against him, but boy, he’s good. We’ve just done a fairly good job against him.”