Now that the Boston Red Sox are standing atop the AL East, they’d like to create some distance between themselves and the rest of the division.
Coming off a 6-0 road trip, the defending world champions look to extend their winning streak to eight games as they open a six-game homestand against the Cleveland Indians.
The Red Sox blew a seven-run lead before blowing past Philadelphia 12-8 on Sunday to complete a three-game interleague sweep. Manny Ramirez’s 19th career grand slam and five RBIs helped Boston moved 2 1/2 games in front of slumping Baltimore in the East.
Ramirez, last year’s World Series MVP, had five hits, three homers and nine RBIs during the weekend sweep.
“Manny started out slow and we all said it’s going to be fun when he gets hot. And he’s getting hot,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
So are the Red Sox.
Winners of seven straight and 12 of their last 13 games, Boston has won four consecutive series.
Boston will look to continue its success against Cleveland. The Red Sox swept a three-game set at Jacobs Field last week, ending the Indians’ season-high nine-game winning streak.
The right-handers went head-to-head last Tuesday, with Arroyo allowing one run and four hits over seven solid innings to lead the Red Sox to a 9-2 victory. Millwood gave up four runs and seven hits to take the loss.
Cleveland won its second straight game Sunday when pinch-hitter Victor Martinez singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to beat Cincinnati 4-3.
“It was kind of a day off for me, but I stayed ready,” said Martinez, who is 7-for-15 (.467) with five RBIs in his career as a pinch-hitter. “I’m feeling better, more comfortable swinging.”
The Indians completed interleague play with a major league-best 15-3 record and improved to 22-10 overall since May 21.