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Apr 25, 2024 2:03 am

Short-handed Red Sox seek series win vs. Guardians

Connor Wong

Despite a rash of early-season injuries, the Boston Red Sox have stayed afloat.

After an impressive showing against the league’s hottest team, the Red Sox can close an already successful six-game trip with a series victory over the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday.

Despite missing Trevor Story (shoulder), Lucas Giolito (elbow), Triston Casas (rib), Garrett Whitlock (oblique) and Nick Pivetta (elbow), the Red Sox are three games above .500, lead the majors with a 1.73 starters ERA and near the top with 33 home runs.

“That’s the nature of this business,” Boston manager Alex Cora said of the injuries. “It’s 162-plus and you’re going to go through stuff like this.”

On the same day Boston learned originally scheduled Thursday starter Brayan Bello was placed on the 15-day injured list with lat tightness, it got five strong innings from Cooper Criswell and 16 hits from the offense in Wednesday’s 8-0 win at Cleveland.

Catcher Connor Wong homered twice and joined Wilyer Abreu with four hits apiece. Meanwhile, Rafael Devers also went deep and was a triple shy of the cycle with two RBIs in his return from missing five games with a knee issue. The Red Sox evened the series by snapping the Guardians’ five-game winning streak and improving to 4-1 on their road swing.

“We got to keep going,” said Cora, whose club is 11-4 on the road this season. “Overall, a good one (Wednesday), we got a chance to win the series (Thursday) and go home.”

Wong is batting .370 with five homers and 11 RBIs this season. He’s homered five times in nine career contests versus Cleveland. Meanwhile, Abreu is 13-for-25 with seven RBIs in his past six games.

Devers, who raised his average from .188 to .231 after Wednesday’s performance, Wong and Abreu all look to stay hot when the Red Sox face scheduled Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie (2-2, 5.00 ERA), who tries to ease an up-and-down start to his season.

McKenzie has alternated between bad and good starts during his first four outings. The right-hander looks to build on a solid effort after giving up a solo homer, two other hits and three walks while striking out six through five innings in Cleveland’s 10-2 home victory against Oakland on Friday.

McKenzie has an 0-1 record with a 5.14 ERA in one career start against the Red Sox in July 2022.

Wednesday’s loss was just the second in 10 games for the 17-7 Guardians, who entered that contest with a plus-55 run differential. However, they were held to four hits and were shut out by Boston for the second time this season.

Jose Ramirez, who doubled Wednesday to raise his average to .240, has hit safely in eight of the past nine.

“(Ramirez) hits the ball hard, doesn’t get down on himself,” first-year Cleveland manager Stephen Vogt said.

“I can’t say enough about what he brings to this lineup.”

With Bello out, the Red Sox are likely to use a bullpen approach in the series finale. According to MLB.com, veteran right-hander Chase Anderson (0-0, 2.77 ERA) is slated to start after making six relief appearances this season.

Anderson is 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA in three appearances (two starts) against the Guardians in his career.

–Field Level Media

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