Red Sox

4 takeaways as Red Sox fall in strange finish vs. Indians

The Red Sox gave up three runs in the eighth.

Red Sox Indians takeaways
Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians rounds third after hitting a home run in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Here are the takeaways, as the Red Sox blew a late lead against the Indians and fell 7-5 in a rain-delayed series finale on Sunday.

The Big Picture

The Red Sox took charge early on Rafael Devers’ first home run of the day and expanded their lead in the second inning when Bobby Dalbec homered to left — continuing his hot stretch over the last month.

In the fourth inning, Jarren Duran walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run, and J.D. Martinez drove in a fourth run in the fifth inning with an RBI double. The Red Sox led 4-0 and appeared well positioned to claim a sweep.

Advertisement:

But the Indians started chipping away. Tanner Houck pitched 5.1 hitless innings, but he gave up four walks and hit three batters. José Ramírez homered with one out in the sixth to break Houck’s no-hit bid, and Houck hit a pair of batters. Josh Taylor entered the game and gave up a single to Wilson Ramos, which drove in two runs.

Devers homered again in the top of the seventh — a 448-foot blast — to give the Red Sox one more insurance run, but the Indians tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh.

Then things fell apart. Austin Hedges homered to left off Austin Davis, tying the game. Oscar Mercado singled, then tried to score when Yu Chang hit a line drive down the line. Mercado appeared to be out at home, but the home-plate umpire awarded him home plate — calling interference on Yairo Muñoz. The call was clearly correct upon replay.

“I kind of pushed the second baseman out of the way because all that was on my mind was to score,” Mercado told reporters after the game. “There were actually two interferences on the play because I got hit at third, too, so I knew right away what the call was.”

Advertisement:

The Indians tacked on another run in the frame, and Emmanuel Clase set the Red Sox down in order in the ninth.

Star of the Game

José Ramírez — 2-for-3, two RBIs, one run, homer, double, walk

Devers was the easy choice here until the Red Sox broke down in the final innings. Ramirez’s RBI double in the seventh trimmed the lead to 5-4.

What It Means

The Red Sox lead the A’s in the wild-card standings by three games for the final playoff slot and trail the Yankees by 2.5. The A’s and Yankees played each other Sunday night.

Takeaways

1. The Red Sox can feel a little bit better after winning six of their last nine games and putting themselves in a good position to claim the final wildcard slot especially if their newfound momentum carries at all.

The losses, however, weren’t great — punctuated by Sunday’s ordeal. In addition to Muñoz’s mistake that allowed Mercado to score, Kyle Schwarber failed to haul in a ball that likely could have been caught, which resulted in Ramírez’s double.

“Today was going to be a tough one as far as the bullpen, trying to survive in a sense — that’s why we were so aggressive yesterday with a few guys and we ended up pulling that out,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Today had to be perfect and it wasn’t.”

Advertisement:

2. Houck remained winless, despite a solid start. He is now 0-3.

“You’ve got to take the good away, along with the bad, from this game,” Houck said. “I didn’t have the best command in the world, but it’s a matter of learning from it.”

Houck’s command issues were a bit of a surprise — the 25-year-old has a walk percentage of 4.8, which is in the top six-percent league-wide.

Cora noted after that game that when Houck plunked Bradley Zimmer — Houck’s final hit-by-pitch of the game — Zimmer leaned in a bit to get hit on the elbow.

“Nothing we can do,” Cora said. “That pitch is probably an inch off the plate.”

Cora added that Houck pitched “extremely well.”

3. After the game, a reporter asked Devers if — given his statistical similarities to some of the game’s best young talents — he feels disrespected not to be promoted and discussed the same way.

“I don’t feel bad at all,” Devers said through a translator. “That’s actually something you guys need to worry about as the media. You guys are the ones that put the postings, and Major League Baseball, they are the ones that put the rankings. You guys are the ones that have to worry about whether my name is on there or not, not me. …

“If you guys want to put things about me, and post and put me in rankings, then that’s fine, you can. But if not, I still have to come over here and do my job. I don’t control that.”

Advertisement:

Devers now has 32 homers and 96 RBIs.

4. On Saturday, Indians pitcher Cal Quantrill celebrated hard after striking out Devers while the Red Sox star stared him down.

On Sunday, asked if Quantrill’s celebration lit a fire under him, Devers chuckled.

“It wasn’t anything like that,” Devers said. “I appreciate the fact that when I hit a home run, I’m going to do what I do, and then he got me this one at-bat, he struck me out, and he’s going to do what he does. Obviously we might see him down the road again. We might see him next week. If I hit a home run, I’ll probably do what I do.

“It wasn’t anything to pump me up. He got me this one at bat, and he deserves to do what he did.”

The Red Sox now travel to Tampa Bay for a pivotal four-game series against the Rays. The first game begins Monday at 7:10 p.m.

Jump To Comments

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com