Rapid reaction: Indians 8, Red Sox 4

April, 6, 2011

CLEVELAND -- Rapid reaction: Indians 8, Red Sox 4

Score one for the sky-is-falling crowd: This was the worst loss yet this season for the Boston Red Sox, now 0-5 and a game away from being swept in a second straight series, this time by the Cleveland Indians.

After this disaster, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Sox owner John W. Henry called his new business partner, LeBron James, and asked him if he’d rather have a piece of the Sox instead of the minority stake he now has in Liverpool.

Paging Pawtucket: The Big Sweat, Dennys Reyes, was historically awful. Summoned to keep the game close with the Sox trailing 3-2 in the sixth, Reyes hit Travis Buck in the back, hit Matt LaPorta in the foot and walked a guy trying to bunt, Jack Hannahan, on four pitches. Reyes threw a dozen pitches, 11 for balls, before giving way to Dan Wheeler.

According to Jeremy Lundblad of ESPN Stats & Information, in the past 90 years there have been only five previous occasions in which a pitcher faced just three batters, hitting two and walking the other. Reyes, who walked the only batter he faced, Josh Hamilton, in the opener, may have a very short shelf life as the team’s only left-handed reliever.

Brain cramp: Boston’s most reliable player, Jason Varitek, made his first start of 2011 one to forget. With Reyes having left with the bases loaded and no out, Dan Wheeler induced Michael Brantley to hit a soft liner to third, where Kevin Youkilis first gloved the ball, then dropped it. Youkilis retrieved the ball, stepped on the bag and in the same motion threw home to Varitek, who needed only to tag the runner for an easy double play. But Varitek evidently did not see Youkilis step on third, which took off the force, and did not apply the tag. A run scored on the play, and the next batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, compounded the damage with a three-run homer.

Coming up empty: The Sox were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and are 7-for-40 on the season with runners in scoring position. The most egregious failure came in the third when the Sox had runners on second and third and nobody out before Youkilis took a called third strike, David Ortiz popped to short and J.D. Drew took a called third strike. A close second was the fifth, when the Sox had runners on first and third with one out. Youkilis struck out and Ortiz rolled out to first.

Long-distance pain: In addition to the three-run home run allowed by Wheeler, Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-run homer off Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first, and Matt LaPorta took Tim Wakefield deep in the eighth. That makes 14 home runs surrendered by Sox pitchers in five games.

Decent Daisuke: Matsuzaka settled down after a shaky start in which he also gave up a run in the second, holding the Indians to two more singles, both of which came with two outs in the fifth.

Not the new guys’ fault: At least the ones not named Reyes. Crawford had two singles, a walk and stole his first two bases. Adrian Gonzalez doubled, was walked intentionally and hit his first home run of the season, with a runner on in the seventh.

Leaden at leadoff: Jacoby Ellsbury is hitless in his past 14 at-bats after striking out three times and grounding out twice Wednesday.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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