CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has plenty of confidence in his pitching staff, and he placed his full trust in those arms against the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park Monday night.
And the Indians’ pitching staff rewarded that trust and faith by allowing just three runs in a 4-3 series-clinching win over the Red Sox, which earned Cleveland its first trip to the American League Championship Series since 2007.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin allowed just two earned runs and four hits with one walk and four strikeouts over five-plus innings of work against Boston, and both he and the bullpen got the necessary help from the offense to finish off the sweep.
“Josh was throwing the ball so well that I didn't want to go get him too quick because he was hitting his spots so well,” Francona said. “When they got to the top of the order, you know, and a home run can tie it or take the lead, especially in this ballpark, some of those right-handers, it's hard to have Andrew (Miller) up warming up and not bring him in the game.”
The Red Sox cut the Indians’ lead in half, 2-1, with an RBI single from left fielder Andrew Benintendi in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts started the rally when he smacked a looping single to center field off of Tomlin. Then, Benintendi followed with a double off of “The Green Monster” in left field, and that brought around Bogaerts for Boston’s first run of the game.
Down by three runs heading into the sixth inning, Boston got one run back on a sacrifice fly off the bat of designated hitter David Ortiz to center against Indians left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.
With second baseman Dustin Pedroia on third base after a lead-off single that drove Tomlin from the game and a double from right fielder Mookie Betts off of the wall in left field, Ortiz hit a low pitch on a line to center field. Although reserve outfielder Rajai Davis tracked down the ball for the second out of the inning, Pedroia scooted down the third-base line for Boston’s second run of the game.
However, Miller shut the door on a bigger rally for the Red Sox in the sixth inning when he set down first baseman Hanley Ramirez on strikes.
“I thought Josh did exactly what he was supposed to do, and I thought we were to the point in the game where if everything played out, we could cover it,” Francona said. “It doesn't guarantee anything, and they certainly made us work for it, but there's a reason we went and got Andrew Miller.”
Miller allowed just one hit and one walk against three strikeouts over his two innings of work in Game 3. Then, Indians closer Cody Allen worked around two hits and a pair of walks over 1.1 innings against the Red Sox to earn his second save of the series and close out the clinching win.
“He was going to finish one way or another,” Francona said of Allen. “You kind of throw pitch counts out the window in a game like this. I know where it was, but he was going to finish, like I said, one way or another.”