The Boston Red Sox have won two straight games in the ninth inning, but it’s going to take much more than that for them to reach the postseason again.
The Red Sox look to continue their climb back into contention Monday night when they go for their sixth straight home win against the Cleveland Indians.
Boston (60-45), which hopes to advance to the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years, has won five of six but is still third in the AL East, 6 1/2 games behind the division-leading New York Yankees and trailing Tampa Bay by 5 1/2 in the wildcard race.
The Red Sox, though, keep playing hard. After David Ortiz’s(notes) bases-clearing double Saturday resulted in a 5-4 victory, the Red Sox won their second straight in the ninth inning, defeating the Tigers 4-3 on Sunday when Darnell McDonald(notes) raced home after Marco Scutaro’s(notes) bunt was thrown away.
“(We) just play, play till it’s over,” said manager Terry Francona.
Boston now opens a four-game series with John Lackey(notes) (10-5, 4.26 ERA) on the mound, and the right-hander can expect a much warmer welcome at Fenway Park than the one he received in his last outing. Making his first start in Anaheim since signing a five-year deal with Boston in the offseason, Lackey was booed throughout Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over the Angels.
“The scoreboard talks the loudest,” he said after giving up two runs and seven hits over 7 1-3 innings.
Lackey, 7-2 with a 4.26 ERA in 11 home starts this season, faces the Indians for the first time in a Red Sox uniform. He’s 3-1 in his last four starts versus Cleveland despite a 6.17 ERA.
Lackey will face a club that’s done a solid job of regrouping following trades that sent Jake Westbrook(notes), Kerry Wood(notes), Austin Kearns(notes) and Jhonny Peralta(notes) to contending clubs prior to Saturday’s deadline.
“We played really good ball these last couple of games,” said Cabrera, 1 for 14 against Lackey. “We want to play like that the whole rest of the season.”
The Indians will try to win three consecutive road series for the first time since August, but they have lost five straight and eight of nine at Fenway Park. Cleveland’s last series win in Boston was in June 2005.
Fausto Carmona(notes) (10-8, 3.92) will try to get the Indians off to a good start in this matchup. Looking to win his fourth consecutive start, the All-Star right-hander went a season-low 2 2-3 innings and allowed seven runs and 10 hits in Wednesday’s 8-0 loss to the Yankees.
“Fausto just didn’t have it,” Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Carmona also didn’t have it in a 4-1 loss to the visiting Red Sox on June 7, walking a season high-tying six and surrendering three runs in six innings. In his only career start in Boston, Carmona lasted just one inning in a 5-4 loss on Sept. 24, 2008, giving up four runs and five hits.
Ortiz, who is batting .310 with four homers and 12 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak, is 4 for 10 with a homer against Carmona. Scutaro is 10 for 21 versus the Indians scheduled starter.