By Maureen Mullen
CLEVELAND The Red Sox showed no mercy Wednesday on Indians right-hander Mitch Talbot, making his first start since coming off the disabled list, as they pounded him for seven runs in the first inning en route to a 14-2 romp over the Indians.
The Sox sent 12 batters to the plate in the first and set season highs for both runs and hits in an inning. They tied their season high with four consecutive hits as Jacoby Ellsbury opened the game with a single to center, followed by Dustin Pedroias third home run of the season, Adrian Gonzalezs single, and David Ortizs single.
The Sox scored seven runs in an inning four times in 2010, but the last time they did so in the first inning was with 10 runs on Aug. 12, 2008, against the Rangers. The last time they had at least nine hits in the first inning was on June 27, 2003, against the Marlins.
Staked to such a robust lead, Jon Lester cruised through his outing, going six scoreless innings, giving up three hits two singles in the first, and a double to Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth and one walk with seven strikeouts over 97 pitches. He improved to 7-1, with a 3.36 ERA. He has not lost since his third outing of the season, April 12 against the Rays.
Talbot suffered the loss, falling to 1-1 in his third start of the season, and second against the Sox, as he ERA swelled from 1.46 to 5.87. He gave up 8 runs on 12 hits -- a season high for an Indians starter -- with two walks, and a strikeout in three innings.
The Sox set new season highs with 20 hits, and four home runs in the game by Pedroia, Crawford, David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. They also matched their season high with six doubles Mike Cameron, Ellsbury, and two each by Crawford and Drew Sutton.
Crawford went 4-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI, and his third home run of the season. He set a season high with four hits, falling a triple shy of the cycle and one hit shy of his career high. He raised his average in the game from .212 to .229. Going 6-for-11 with two home runs, six runs scored, and three RBI in the series, he raised his average 20 points, from .209.
Drew Sutton -- a late addition to the lineup to replace Kevin Youkilis, whose left hand was bothering him after being hit with a pitch Monday night and tweaking it diving for a ball Tuesday went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, matching his career high in hits.
Player of the Game: Carl Crawford
Crawford went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored and two RBI. He fell a triple shy of the cycle before coming out of the game after his sixth-inning double. His season-high four hits were one hit shy of his career high and raised his average from .212 to .229 in the game.
"I'm just trying to have good at-bats," Crawford said. "I definitely feel better than I did before. So, I'm just going to take that for what it is.
"It just feels good to win the game, to help contribute."
"I thought about hitting for the cycle probably in my last at-bat. But not early on in the game."
Crawford said he has never hit for the cycle, at any level, including Little League.
"No, never. It's not easy."
Honorable Mention: Drew Sutton
Inserted into the lineup shortly before game time to replace third baseman Kevin Youkilis, whose left hand was bothering him after being hit there Monday night and tweaking it diving for a ball Teuesday, Sutton went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, matching his career high in hits, which he last reached on Sept. 19, 2010, against Kansas City while with the Indians.
Sutton was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 20.
"It's great. I didn't have as much time to think about it as I did when they told me the night before, as much time to think about it and be nervous," Sutton said. "When they tell you an hour-and-a-half before the game you're just kind of like, 'All right, let's do this.' It does make it a little easier. You just kind of go back, get ready, and go play."
The Goat: Mitch Talbot
Talbot who was activated from the disabled list to start Wednesday afternoon's series finale, after being sidelined since April 12 with a right elbow strain. He had made just two starts previously this season, including an April 6 no-decision, as the Indians beat the Sox that day.
But on Wednesday, he could offer his team very little as the Sox pounded him from the second pitch of the game, a Jacoby Ellsbury single.
Talbot went three innings, giving up eight runs on 12 hits and two walks with one strikeout. He allowed seven runs on nine hits as the Sox sent 12 batters to the plate. The 12 hits he allowed are season high for Indians starters. Talbot took the loss, falling to 1-1 in his ERA swelled from 1.46 to 5.87.
Turning Point: First inning explosion
In the first inning, the Sox sent 12 batters to the plate with seven scoring, a season-high for runs in an inning. They had nine hits in, also a season high. They tied their season high for consecutive hits in an inning, with four. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia each had two hits in the inning, while Pedroia had three RBI. The 7-0 hole was more than the Indians could dig out of and more than enough for Jon Lester to cruise through his outing.
"Quick turnaround after last night and we came out with a lot of energy," said manager Terry Francona. "I know the hits lead to that. But we had a real good approach and we don't throw innings like that together very often. It was really nice. And then they kept after it. And Lester did exactly what you're supposed to do -- went out and threw strikes. His only walk was in his last inning, and we were able to not extend him a lot over 100, got 97, and we didn't use any relievers more than one inning. So that worked out really well."
The last time they had at least nine hits in the first inning was June 27, 2003, against the Marlins, when they had 13. The last time they scored at least seven runs in the first inning was Aug. 12, 2008, against the Rangers when they scored 10.
By the Numbers: .844
The Sox went 20-for-45 in the game, batting .444 as a whole, raising their team average from .262 to .267. With six doubles and four home runs, their slugging percentage for the game was .844, raising their season slugging percentage from .413 to .424.
Quote of Note:
"The last two games we beat them, which is good. But it's fun to play teams like this. They were feeling really good about themselves, as they should, and we came out and played pretty good baseball. And first night, they beat us but we came back and played two pretty good games."
-- Terry Francona on the three-game series against the Indians, who entered the series with the best record in baseball
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.