BOSTON: The Red Sox didn’t need no stinkin’ doctor. A visit from the Indians was all it took for them to get well.
The Tribe delivered a total team effort in losing three of four at Fenway, especially in Sunday’s 12-1 humiliation.
That is, the Indians couldn’t hit and couldn’t pitch; their outfielders spent most of the day chasing towering drives over their heads, and the infielders kept busy by racing far onto the grass to take relays, then whirling toward the plate only to see that it was too late to keep a runner from scoring.
The offense was as inept as the pitching. Boston starter Daniel Bard (3-4, 4.30 ERA) came into the game with a 2-4 record and 4.83 earned-run average and gave up one run, six hits and four walks in six innings.
“We tried to get one or two guys going, but the whole series, Michael [Brantley] was carrying the whole load,” manager Manny Acta said. “With our lineup, we need more than one, two or three guys carrying us.”
Brantley had two doubles and a single Sunday and was 9-for-18 with four doubles and four RBI for the series.
Bard’s only mistake was issuing three of the walks in the third inning, when he forced in a run by walking Asdrubal Cabrera with the bases loaded.
The “rally” typified the Indians’ attack. That is, if they didn’t get help from the Sox, they didn’t score. Offense can come and go, of course. In the last two games of the series, the Tribe scored two runs, and both were aided by the enemy.
Probably more important to the team’s immediate future was the malfeasance of starter Justin Masterson (1-3, 5.40 ERA), who had a rocky start and eventually gave up six runs, seven hits and one walk. He also hit three batters and threw a wild pitch, all in 94 pitches.
What was Masterson’s problem? He felt too good.
“I was overthrowing,” he said. “I felt really good early and was throwing a little harder. It was, ‘Let’s enjoy what we have and throw it even harder.’ And the ball was going off the plate.”
Masterson’s best pitch is a sinker that if thrown with too much effort flattens out. At one point he unleashed a pitch that rocketed over the head of Carlos Santana like an off-course cruise missile.
“I threw a sinker, but it didn’t sink,” Masterson said. “It kind of rose.”
Masterson viewed the errant pitches that struck three Sox hitters as part of the same problem, but they were not upsetting to him.
“I don’t mind hitting people as long as nobody gets hurt,” he said. “It keeps people from getting comfortable at the plate.”
Acta saw Masterson’s problem a little differently.
“He was inconsistent in throwing strikes,” the manager said. “Eight of 16 left-handers reached base. When you’re not locating pitches, that’s what happens, and it happened today.”
The Red Sox batted around in the first inning, scoring four times on two doubles, two singles, a walk and a hit batter.
“That’s not fun,” Masterson said. “You want to try to minimize the damage, keep it to two runs. You never want to get your boys to get in that big of a hole.”
Nobody knew it at the time, but the game was effectively over after the first inning.
“The way we’ve been hitting the past few days, if we get down by five runs, it’s tough, though in this park, you never know,” Acta said.
Not that the Red Sox were content with five runs in three innings. After Masterson left, they lambasted Dan Wheeler for six runs in the seventh inning, walloping three doubles, a single and Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run homer during the rally.
“He was just not making pitches,” Acta said.
Johnny Damon played in Boston for four seasons through 2005 and knows how the Red Sox offense can suddenly explode at Fenway Park.
“Sometimes you catch a team at the wrong time,” he said. “It seemed like after the first game [won by the Tribe], they saw all the stuff from the media and started hitting more. They were making solid contact today, and the ball was flying out of here.”
When the Indians arrived in town, the Red Sox had lost seven of eight and were struggling to escape last place with a 12-18 record.
“It was a very disappointing series overall,” Acta said. “When you come in here and beat the guy who is supposedly their best pitcher [Josh Beckett] then lose the next three, you can’t be anything but disappointed. When you come to this place and win the first one, you expect to at least come out with a split.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.