Red Sox hand ball to Tanner Houck to keep pressure on Indians

MLB

The Boston Red Sox will try to keep their power surge going when they host the Cleveland Indians for the second of a three-game series on Saturday afternoon.

Boston (78-59) blasted four home runs in a series-opening 8-5 win over Cleveland (67-65). Hunter Renfroe hit a three-run blast and Kyle Schwarber, Kevin Plawecki and Jonathan Arauz each had solo blasts to propel the Red Sox to a third straight win.

The Red Sox were again bitten by the COVID bug ahead of Friday’s series opener as rookie outfielder Jarren Duran was placed on the COVID-related injured list.

Boston has had nine players and two coaches test positive for COVID-19 dating back to last Friday’s series opener in Cleveland. Despite their COVID woes, the Red Sox moved three games ahead of the Oakland A’s for the second American League wild-card spot.

“Our lineup’s unbelievable. Even with the guys that are out now with COVID, we’ve got other guys stepping up,” Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi said after tossing 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball in the win. “They’re all having quality at-bats up there.”

The Indians put on a power show of their own as Austin Hedges had a tying two-run blast in the seventh inning and Jose Ramirez clubbed a solo shot and finished with two RBIs in the loss. The loss dropped Cleveland to 8 1/2 games behind Boston in the wild-card race.

“That’s a big hit by Hedgy there. It’s too bad we can’t finish it off, but I thought we showed good resilience,” Indians pitcher Cal Quantrill said after allowing five runs over six innings. We put up quality at-bats all the way through.”

Indians right-hander Eli Morgan (2-6, 5.98 ERA) opposes Red Sox right-hander Tanner Houck (0-3, 3.63 ERA) in Saturday’s game.

Houck appeared to be well on his way to picking up his first win of the season last Sunday at Cleveland. The second-year hurler allowed three runs on just one hit with four walks and three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.

Houck departed with the Red Sox leading 4-3, but had not allowed a run through 5 1/3 innings before Ramirez took him deep for a solo blast in the sixth. Houck plunked the next two batters before being replaced by Josh Taylor, who allowed both runners to score later in the inning.

Boston led 5-3 after 6 1/2 innings before Cleveland rallied and scored three in the eighth to capture a 7-5 comeback win.

Despite pitching well for the Red Sox this season, Houck is winless in eight consecutive starts and last earned a victory on Sept. 26, 2020 at Atlanta.

Morgan also turned in an effective, but short start opposite Houck in last Sunday’s matchup. The rookie threw three innings of two-run, two-hit ball while walking one and striking out three.

Morgan was bitten by the home run ball twice against Boston, serving up a first-inning solo homer to Rafael Devers and a second-inning solo shot to Bobby Dalbec.

It was a bounce-back effort for Morgan, who had allowed four runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 7-3 loss against Texas in his prior start on Aug. 24.

–Field Level Media

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