BOSTON — Although the Boston Red Sox went 13-14 in July, recent signs may be pointing to better things.
“Obviously the record is not something we’re certainly pleased with,” manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox closed out the month with a 6-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night. “You go back and … there’s been a lot of frustration because there’s been a number of games where it’s been one swing of the bat or one pitch that has been the deciding factor inside of games.
“Those burn a little bit, but hopefully as we’ve added some new faces and Addison [Reed] getting here tomorrow will help bolster that bullpen … we get back on track and able to swing the bat like we’re doing here of late — particularly the addition of [Rafael] Devers and Nuney [Eduardo Nunez] — they’ve done an outstanding job. I think the addition of two guys certainly boosts the clubhouse in knowing there’s an uptick in offense that’s capable.”
Devers went 4-for-4, Nunez had three hits and drove in two runs, and Mookie Betts had three RBIs for Boston’s second win in the last three games. It was only the third win in nine games for the Red Sox, however.
On Monday, the Red Sox sent three young arms to the New York Mets for Reed, who will arrive as the eighth-inning setup man and emergency closer. Then, the bats came alive and Doug Fister earned his first win in almost a year to keep Boston a half-game behind the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East.
“I feel very comfortable,” said Devers, speaking through an interpreter. “I’m just playing my game and things are going well right now.”
He was moved up to the sixth spot in the order and is 10-for-24 (.417) in the big leagues. Devers joined Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Dalton Jones and Tony Conigliaro as the only Red Sox players with four hits in a game at age 20 or younger. He also is the third Red Sox hitter in the last 100 years with 10 hits in his first six major league games (Williams and Ted Cox).
Fister, 0-5 with a 7.46 ERA in seven outings (four starts) with Boston coming in, had a shutout into the eighth but was pulled after allowing a two-run homer to Bradley Zimmer. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out five.
Fister had lost 10 consecutive decisions dating back to his last win on Aug. 22.
“A long time coming,” he said. “There’s been a lot of trials and tribulations that come with it.”
Betts singled home two runs in the second inning and another in the fourth. Nunez, playing his fourth game with his new team, had RBI singles in both innings. He is 8-for-17 (.471) with the Red Sox since coming over from the San Francisco Giants.
Christian Vazquez went 2-for-4 and is 7-for-12 in the past three games for Boston, which got 1 1/3 scoreless innings from reliever Brandon Workman.
Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger (5-4) lasted just three-plus innings in his second straight shaky outing — the Indians losing in their first visit to Fenway Park since eliminating the Red Sox in last year’s American League Division Series. Clevinger gave up five runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out two.
The Indians, the AL Central leaders, have lost two straight after winning nine in a row, but they remain two games ahead of the Kansas City Royals.
“He kind of put on a clinic,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Fister. “When [Josh] Tomlin’s going good, real similar. Maybe not in height, but same types of pitches, breaking ball, fastball, located. I mean really commanded, really changed speeds.
“He’s not going to break the radar gun but looked like — I know he’s had a couple tough starts — but tonight he commanded everything. He works quick, you can’t run. A lot of similar things that we say about Tomlin when he pitches well.”
Francona, who managed the Red Sox to the 2004 and ’07 World Series titles, was cheered loudly when he came out to make pitching changes.