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