CLEVELAND -- The pitching match up definitely favored the Indians in the series finale against Boston at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon. The on-field results did not.
Employing seven pitchers against All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber, the Red Sox breezed to a 5-1 victory, which clinched the series for a team that entered the opener having lost 12 of its last 14 games.
The Indians managed only four hits --- all singles -- and scored their only run on a wild pitch. Utility infielder Mike Freeman had two of the hits.
The Red Sox didn’t beat up on Bieber, scoring only two runs on seven hits (two solo home runs), but chased the right-hander after six innings.
Bieber departed with Cleveland trailing 2-1 on back-to-back homers from Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts in the third inning.
The homer extended the consecutive hits streak to eight for Devers, who went 6-for-6 with four doubles in Boston’s 7-6 win in 10 innings Tuesday night.
Bieber was battling more than a potent Boston lineup, according to manager Terry Francona.
“He woke up feeling sick. He was nauseous the entire game and he gave us six (innings),” Francona said. “There was a chance after the second inning that he was gonna come out of that game and he stayed out there for six innings and gave us a chance to win. That was impressive.”
“It was different today trying to muster up energy and feel good about what we were doing,” Bieber said. “It just came down to trying to execute pitches and I thought we did that for the most part, except for a couple. But it just wasn’t enough.
“I was kinda feeling that way all morning. Kinda turned a corner there in the fourth inning, so I don’t really think it’s much of a story. Felt good enough to go out there and compete.”
The Indians were still in the game with right-hander Nick Goody on the mound in the seventh. Goody, who has been one of Cleveland’s top relievers as of late, retired the first batter, then allowed a single to Mookie Betts.
Francona chose to intentionally walk the red-hot Devers and Bogaerts followed with his second homer of the game -- a three-run shot to the left-field bleachers -- that finished off the Indians.
“Sometimes it’s a little bit like pick your poison,” he said. “Devers is in one of those streaks right now where it looks like he’s playing softball. It didn’t make me feel good with the result but we got an open base and we’ve got a guy that’s 8-for-9. Pitching to him, that didn’t seem to make sense.”
The defending World Series champion Red Sox have been mediocre this year, entering the day four games over .500 and trailing first-place New York by 17 1/2 games in the American League East Division standings.
Still, they employ one of the AL’s top lineups.
“(It’s) pretty relentless, just not really any spots to take a break,” Bieber said. “But going where we’re going this year, (you) just gotta get used to pitching in those games and against those types of lineups because they’re one of those lineups that can put some damage on you. You’ve got to be able to combat that and just be better.”
Bieber’s strikeout of J.D. Martinez in the fifth inning gave him 200 on the season. At 24, he is the youngest Cleveland pitcher to reach the milestone since Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley (at 21) in 1976.
Bieber reached 195 strikeouts combined on the minor and major-league levels last year -- 118 as a rookie for the Indians over 114 2/3 innings.
“It’s nice. It’s obviously something guys, including myself, try to reach,” said Bieber, who has logged 162 1/3 innings this year. “There was a lot of talk last year if I was going to do it or not. Whether I had enough time up here. There was a lot of smack talk in between seasons and in the offseason. It’s nice to do it, I’m sure I’ll reflect on it later.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @CAwesomeheimer.