CLEVELAND — As an organization, the Red Sox will find a way to help console the victims of Monday’s tragedy and honor the heroes. Plans already are being made within the offices on Yawkey Way.
But the players sitting in the visitor’s clubhouse at Progressive Field before Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians wanted to do something on their own to send the message back home that their minds were on more than a baseball game.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia asked Jonny Gomes if he had any ideas.
“I’ve got this,” Gomes said before sketching out an idea they took to clubhouse manager Tom McLaughlin.
A spare jersey was dug out of the equipment trunk. Before too long it had 617 across the back along with the words “Boston Strong.” The players hung it in the dugout.
“We’re not robots,” Gomes said after the Red Sox beat the Indians, 7-2, for their fourth straight win. “We live in the city. Those are our fans who were attacked.”
Mike Napoli doubled twice in a seven-run second inning and drove in three runs. But what he will remember about this game was every Cleveland player who reached first base asking him about the bombing.
“The umpires were asking, too. It was all everybody was talking about,” he said.
Dustin Pedroia was somber before and after the game, his usual chatter and braggadocio muted for a night. But he did his part, getting on base twice and scoring a run.
“We know a lot of people are back home watching, trying to maybe forget something, take their mind off what’s happening there,” he said. “We’re going to come out and play as hard as we can and we’ll be home in a couple of days.”
The Sox knocked Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2) out of the game in the second, scoring those seven runs on five walks and the two doubles by Napoli.
Napoli started the inning with a double to the gap in right field. Will Middlebrooks, Gomes, and David Ross drew walks to force in the first run.
Pedro Ciriaco, starting at shortstop for Stephen Drew, lined to right field and Middlebrooks tagged up and scored. Jacoby Ellsbury then singled up the middle, the ball deflecting off the glove of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera as he dived. That scored Gomes, who was on base four times in the game.
When Shane Victorino and Pedroia walked, that was all Indians manager Terry Francona cared to see and Jimenez was out of the game.
Righthander Cody Allen left a fastball up in the strike zone and Napoli launched it to center field. By the time the ball thudded into the high wall and was relayed in, the Sox had scored three more runs.
The shot gave Napoli 14 RBIs in 13 games despite a .236 batting average.
“I need to work on my average, but I’m happy that most of the hits I’ve had have been big ones,” Napoli said. “If I’m driving in runs and we’re winning games, I’m happy.”
Jimenez threw 44 pitches in the inning, 19 strikes. The 29-year-old righthander has a 5.60 earned run average in 45 starts for the Indians since being acquired from the Colorado Rockies at the 2011 trade deadline.
Red Sox starter Felix Doubront (1-0) was finished after five innings and 104 pitches. He allowed two runs on four hits and four walks. The lefthander struck out seven.
Sox starters have yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start this season. They are 6-2 with a 2.09 ERA.
The Indians scored a run in the second on two singles and a sacrifice fly by Mike Aviles, whom the Sox traded to Toronto in the deal arranged as compensation for manager John Farrell. The Blue Jays then traded Aviles to the Indians.
In the fifth inning, Doubront loaded the bases on a single and two walks. He struck out Carlos Santana with a low fastball for the second out, bringing up cleanup hitter Nick Swisher.
Doubront got ahead of Swisher 1 and 2, then threw a high fastball that ticked off the glove of Ross and allowed a run to score. Swisher then walked to load the bases.
The Indians had a chance to get back in the game but Mark Reynolds popped to second base.
“I minimized the damage, that was important,” Doubront said. “That inning was tough for me. I was thinking, one pitch away.”
Doubront was pitching on 10 days’ rest, the result of getting a start skipped because of a rainout last week. That contributed to his high pitch count.
“I’m sure that had something to do with it, there’s no question,” Farrell said. “But he had the benefit of some runs on the scoreboard.”
Clayton Mortensen and Alex Wilson finished the game with two scoreless innings each.
The Sox left the park hoping they had, in some small way, done something that would register back home.Continued...