Aug 8, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Brent Lillibridge (1) throws out Minnesota Twins center fielder Denard Span (not pictured) in the third inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
You cannot stop Brent Lillibridge, you can only hope to contain him.
Lillibridge spent a month with the Red Sox before being dealt to the Indians, so his 3-for-4 performance (including a home run) was especially poignant. He was one of the two players traded to Boston for Kevin Youkilis, and the day after Will Middlebrooks was lost for the season, Lillibridge had a career night while playing third base. A pile of coincidences isn't anything other than a pile of coincidences, but still...
The nice night from Lillibridge mattered because Zach McAllister pitched a heck of a game. He allowed two runs over eight innings, an outing especially appropriate because before the game Gaylord Perry, known for his complete games, was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame. McAllister mostly threw fastballs (63 four-seamers, 20 two-seamers), but for the most was able to spot them in good places and induce weak contact.
The Red Sox got on the board with two runs in the fourth, both earned, but one of them shouldn't have happened. After Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to start the inning, the next two Red Sox reached on fielder's choices that should have been easy outs; first Carl Crawford reached after Zach McAllister tried to get Ellsbury at third after fielding a bunt, then Pedroia reached after Brent Lillibridge paid too much attention to Ellsbury after fielding a grounder. Then Adrian Gonzlaez doubled Ellsbury and Crawford home, though Pedroia ran through a stop sign and was tagged out at the plate. McAllister didn't let the inning get away from him, though, as he retired the next two batters.
After that he cruised. Ellsbury helped him out when he tried to turn a sure double into a triple leading off the sixth inning, but he was tagged out at third. So after getting out of the fourth inning, McAllister didn't pitch from the stretch. It was the fourth straight quality start for an Indians pitcher after going 11 straight games without one.
Lillibridge opened the Indians scoring in the third with a home run. It's possible that Boston starter Franklin Morales grooved a 3-1 pitch thinking that the worst that would happen would be a single. Instead Lillibridge hit the ball over the left field fence. I guess it's a bit unfair to classify Lillibridge as just a slap hitter, as he hit 13 home runs for the White Sox last year, but he hadn't hit one in 112 plate appearances this year, and until last year had never hit for much power.
The Red Sox held a 2-1 lead going into the fifth, when Lillibridge struck again. Morales walked Michael Brantley to start the inning, then balked him to second. After a Shelley Duncan ground out got Brantley to third, Lillibiridge smacked a solid single to shallow left field to tie the game. The Indians then took the lead without a hit via a walk, a hit by picth, a double steal, an intentional walk, and a sacrifice fly. In the seventh, Lillibridge legged out a hustle double to open the inning, then later scored on a suicide squeeze. To that point, the Indians had scored four on three hits, all of them by Lillibridge. Another Indian finally got a base hit when Jason Donald singled after the squeeze. In the eighth Carlos Santana drove a double past Carl Crawford and Ezequiel Carrera slapped a single the other way into shallow left field.
So the Indians would score five runs on six hits, and only one run scored via a home run. That's about as efficient as you can get.