CLEVELAND -- The Tribe's injury-riddled lineup broke out in a big way in Thursday's series finale against Chris Sale. Cleveland scored seven runs in three innings against Boston's ace en route to 13-6 victory at Progressive Field, earning a split of a four-game set between a pair of American League division leaders.
The bottom third of the Tribe's order -- Yandy Diaz, Roberto Perez and Giovanny Urshela -- combined to go 9-for-13 with eight RBIs. Urshela (aka "Gio" for Players Weekend) drove in a career-high four RBIs, Diaz collected career highs with four hits and two RBIs, and Perez drove in two runs. Francisco Lindor (aka "Mr. Smile") and Jay Bruce (aka "Bruuuce") each mashed a solo homer.
"Urshela, obviously Yandy, I mean, my goodness," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Roberto with a huge hit early, the two-out base hit. We really did a good job offensively. We really made one of the best pitchers work hard and we got some runs."
The Indians now hold a 5 1/2-game lead in the American League Central after the Twins lost to the White Sox. With the Yankees' loss to the Tigers, Boston maintained its 4 1/2-game lead in the AL East.
Sale (aka "Stickman") was handed his sixth loss after allowing seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and three walks. The left-hander has a 5.19 ERA in 18 career starts (104 innings) against the Indians. Dating back to last season, Sale has allowed 20 runs (19 earned) in his past three starts against Cleveland, with 14 coming between two starts this season.
"I wish I knew what it was. I'd try to fix it," said Sale. "I clearly haven't had my luck against this team, so back to the drawing board and see what we can get tomorrow."
Sale's history against the Tribe is a timely storyline given the fact the Red Sox and Indians are on pace to meet in the AL Division Series for the second straight season. Cleveland swept Boston last fall.
"It's a matter of being able to throw your fastball to both sides of the plate for strikes and slow them down in certain counts," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Sale's counterpart, Indians starter Trevor Bauer (aka "Bauer Outage"), picked up his team-high 13th win. The right-hander went 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out eight.
"The walks led to scoring for them," Francona said of Bauer. "He had some counts where it was 0-2, he'd fight back, lose a count, go 3-2 and then if he didn't make a pitch he got hurt. But his stuff was good and he competed. He gives up runs, he doesn't wilt. He stays out there and keeps going."
Mitch Moreland (aka "2-Bags") launched two homers -- Nos. 16 and 17 -- and added an RBI single to finish with four RBIs for Boston. Xander Bogaerts (aka "X") drove in two with a triple off the wall in left in the fourth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gio's insurance runs: The Indians continued to pour it on Sale in the third, sending seven men to the plate to score three more runs. After Diaz delivered a one-out RBI double off the wall in right, Urshela stepped up with runners on second and third. He connected a 1-0 fastball that Sale left over the plate and grounded it right back up the middle, scoring both runs to make it a 7-1 ballgame. That would prove to be key, as the Red Sox followed with a three-run fourth.
"We've all got talent to play," Urshela said. "We come here to win a game, to fight. And we don't feel frustration or anything like that. ... I come to swing the bat and have confidence to be able to help the team."
Bauer escapes jam: After the Red Sox cut the Tribe's lead in half in the fourth, they looked to be back in business in the fifth. Bauer issued a leadoff walk and allowed a two-out single to Andrew Benintendi (aka "Benny"), putting runners on the corners for Hanley Ramirez. Representing the tying run, Ramirez (aka "El Trece") got ahead in the count and lined a 3-0 fastball to deep right. But Bruce tracked the ball down and made the catch to end the inning.
"Didn't feel great," Bauer said. "Didn't feel bad. Just kind of a struggle, like my last one was, too. I wasn't sharp and didn't command the ball real well. But obviously the team picked me up, both defensively and at the plate. It was a good night."
"I would love it. I would absolutely love it. This is obviously a pretty good little rivalry, even though we're not in the division or anything like that. But given what happened last year and the series that we've had against each other this year, they've been phenomenal. But we've got to get there first. That's at the top of the list." -- Sale, on the potential of a Boston-Cleveland ALDS rematch
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Thursday marked only the second time in Sale's career that he's allowed at least seven runs in no more than three innings. The first came on April 30, 2015, against the Twins as a member of the White Sox.
"I guarantee you, our guys aren't, 'Oh good, Sale's pitching,'" Francona said. "And he's had his way with us like all good pitchers do. I think we've done probably better than most teams against him. But boy, he's good. We've done a fairly good job against him."
BETTS EXITS EARLY
Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts slammed into the wall on Diaz's triple in the sixth and then landed hard on a leaping attempt to prevent Jose Ramirez's double in the seventh. With the Indians winning in blowout fashion, Betts left the game in the seventh. The Red Sox later announced that Betts has a bruised right knee and is day to day.
"I think initially it was going back when I ran into the wall. I kind of hit it there," said Betts. "I was fine and able to play through it. When I jumped on that ball going back, I came down and landed on that same spot. That's when it got pretty tough. It felt pretty tender." More >
As a result of Betts' exit, Rajai Davis (aka "Raj") -- acquired in a trade with Oakland on Wednesday -- replaced Betts and made his Red Sox debut. When Davis' name was announced, the Progressive Field crowd gave the former Indians outfielder and fan favorite a standing ovation.
"I thought it was cool," Francona said. "It didn't surprise me at all. I think Raj grew on us, on everybody. It wasn't just us in the clubhouse, it was the fans and probably you guys. He's a great kid."
With the bases loaded and two down in the bottom of the seventh, Diaz collected his fourth hit with a double to right, scoring two more runs. After the smoke cleared, the Red Sox challenged the play, claiming that Diaz overran the second-base bag and was tagged out by Bogaerts. Boston proved to be correct, as a review overturned the call. Diaz was out at second and the Indians were only credited with one run on the play.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Right-hander Rick Porcello (aka "Veintidos" for Players Weekend) will try to win his fifth straight start when he takes the ball for Friday's 7:10 p.m. ET opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park against the Orioles. It will be a brief stop at home for the Red Sox, who head to Toronto and New York for a seven-game road trip next week.
Indians:The Indians will recall left-hander Ryan Merritt (0-0, 3.12 ERA) from Triple-A Columbus to start Friday's 7:10 p.m. ET series opener against the Royals at Progressive Field. Merritt's last start came Aug. 17 in the second game of a doubleheader with the Twins. He took a no-decision after allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits in 3 2/3 innings.