Corey Kluber carried a shutout into the eighth inning and Lonnie Chisenhall hit a three-run homer off postseason-cursed David Price, giving the Cleveland Indians a 6-0 win on Friday over the Boston Red Sox and a 2-0 lead in their AL Division Series.
Showing no signs of a late-season leg injury, Kluber limited the AL East champions to three hits over seven innings as the Indians moved within one win of returning to the ALCS for the first time since 2007.
David Ortiz and the Red Sox are in serious trouble and have to hope they can get things turned around Sunday in Game 3 at Fenway Park or their turnaround season will be over and Big Papi’s career will be done.
Chisenhall connected in the second inning off Price, who fell to 0-8 in nine playoff starts and must now face the wrath of Red Sox Nation. The left-hander lasted just 3 1/3 innings and once again crumbled with a chance to silence critics who say he can’t pitch in the big game.
Price came in 10-2 in his career against the Indians, including a 5-0 mark at Progressive Field.
But that didn’t mean anything to these Indians, who strung together four straight hits — three of them soft singles — to put him in a 4-0 hole after just two innings.
That’s all Kluber needed. Making his first postseason start, the Cy Young candidate had little issues with the Red Sox, who missed a chance to do some damage against him in the fourth.
Kluber created the jam with two walks before getting Ortiz to swing at the first pitch on pop out to short. Ortiz slammed his bat to the ground in frustration and Boston’s anxiety grew when Kluber struck out Hanley Ramirez looking for the final out.
Ortiz went 0 for 4 and is 1 for 8 in the series.
Kluber hadn’t pitched in 10 days after straining his quadriceps on Sept. 26, the night the Indians clinched the AL Central title in Detroit. Kluber’s injury had worried Cleveland fans already dealing with the loss of starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, neither of whom is on the ALDS roster.
The Indians needed a long effort from Kluber after manager Terry Francona extended reliever Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen in Cleveland’s Game 1 win.
Chisenhall’s start was somewhat of a surprise since he batted just .217 against lefties this season.
Francona, however, likes to put his best defense behind Kluber, plus Chisenhall came in batting .364 in his career against Price.
Francona’s decision paid off in a big way early as Chisenhall’s liner to right in the second gave the Indians a 4-0 lead.
Singles by Carlos Santana, Jose Ramirez and Brandon Guyer made it 1-0 before Chisenhall pulled a 2-1 pitch into the right-field corner and off the railing for his first homer off a left-hander this season.
This wasn’t Price had in mind and certainly not in Boston’s plans either when the Red Sox signed him to a seven-year, $217 million contract in December.
October remains his albatross and his disappointment was apparent as he walked solemnly to Boston’s dugout when manager John Farrell lifted him in the fourth inning.
Before the Indians took the field, NBA superstar LeBron James, who led the Cavaliers to the city’s first pro sports championship since 1964 in June, and some of his teammates gathered near home plate to offer the Indians their support.
“It’s always us against the world,” James told the crowd.
Right now, Cleveland’s on top.
ODDS AND ENDS
Boston has been in this spot before. The Red Sox lost the first two games of the 1999 ALDS in Cleveland, but won the next three to claim the series. . Price has allowed at least two earned runs in 10 straight playoff games, tying Andy Benes for the longest streak. . Red Sox RF Mookie Betts celebrated his 24th birthday. . The Red Sox and Indians are battling in the ALDS for a record-tying fourth time. The Yankees and Twins, and Red Sox and Angels also have squared off four times. . In Game 1, Miller and Allen became the first pair of AL relievers to throw at least 40 pitches in a postseason win since the Yankees’ John Wetteland and Mariano Rivera in Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS against Seattle.
Boston’s Clay Buchholz will start Game 3 against Josh Tomlin, who will be making his first postseason appearance. It’s been an interesting season for Buchholz, who had a 6.35 ERA in his first 10 starts and was demoted to the bullpen. He has tweaked his mechanics and strengthened Farrell’s trust by pitching six innings of one-hit ball in his last regular-season start.
Tomlin lost to the Red Sox on Aug. 15, allowing three runs in 7 2-3 innings.
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