A standing ovation. A video tribute to his time as manager of the Boston Red Sox. And, most importantly, a win for his Cleveland Indians.
Drew Stubbs, Mark Reynolds and Michael Bourn combined for nine hits and eight RBIs and the Indians had 16 hits in a 12-3 win Thursday night.
“I tried to keep my emotions inside,” said Francona, who led the Red Sox to two World Series championships in eight years. “I didn’t want to be the main focus. You want to let the players play.”
More photos below.
Francona, let go by Boston after the 2011 season, got the ovation after the first inning during a video display on the center-field scoreboard. He raised his left hand to the crowd and tapped his heart with his right.
“I was honored,” he said.
And, perhaps, just a bit emotional.
“It was just neat to see the organization do that for him,” Reynolds said. “I think I saw him teary-eyed a little bit during that thing. It was pretty neat and I was glad to be a part of it.”
It was the fans’ only chance to cheer for Francona. He didn’t bring out the lineup card and didn’t have to leave the visiting dugout during the game because all of Cleveland’s pitching changes came at the start of an inning.
He had left Boston as the second-winningest manager in club history, behind Joe Cronin.
In his first year as Cleveland’s manager, he has the Indians in first place in the AL Central after they went 68-94 last season.
They’re 22-9 in their last 31 games.
“They’ve got a good team and are in first place for a reason, not by accident,” said Boston manager John Farrell, Francona’s former pitching coach with the Red Sox.
The 12 runs are the most scored by the Indians in the park since June 28, 2005, and the most they scored there without a home run since 1953.
“Homers (have) been known to be rally killers,” Reynolds said. “You keep having guys on base, it keeps the pressure on the pitcher and it makes him be precise.”
Zach McAllister (4-3) allowed three runs in five innings. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his nine starts this year. Scott Barnes earned his first major league save by pitching three shutout innings.
“I think everyone wanted to go out there and get a win, not just for the team but for (Francona) also,” McAllister said. “He’s been great for us this year and he’s well-liked everywhere he is. It’s definitely exciting to get him a win.”
Ryan Dempster (2-5) gave up four runs in three innings with four walks in his third straight poor start for Boston.
“My command has been terrible,” he said. “I have walked 10 guys in the last nine innings. Bottom line is I’ve got to fix that. I can’t get myself in that kind of trouble.”
Every Cleveland starting batter had a hit and all except Jason Kipnis scored. Carlos Santana reached base five times with a single and four walks.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by Stubbs and made it 4-0 in the third, scoring on a two-run single by Reynolds and a force play at second on a grounder by Mike Aviles.
The Red Sox cut that to 4-3 in the third on David Ortiz’s eighth homer of the season but wasted a chance for a bigger inning. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single and took second on a walk to Daniel Nava. Dustin Pedroia then singled, but Ellsbury was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Bourn. Ortiz then hit the next pitch for his three-run homer.
Run-scoring singles by Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth and Bourn in the fifth made it 6-3 before the Indians scored six runs when they sent 10 men to the plate in the sixth.
They loaded the bases with no outs on a walk to Cabrera, a single by Michael Brantley and a walk to Santana. Alex Wilson replaced Clayton Mortensen and gave up an RBI single to Reynolds. Yan Gomes followed with a two-run double after first baseman Mike Napoli dropped his foul pop for an error.
Aviles hit an infield pop for the first out, but Stubbs tripled in two runs and Bourn singled in another before Wilson struck out the next two batters.
That was more than enough for Francona to relax the rest of the way with a big lead.
“He’s one of the best managers to ever manage here,” Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “I wasn’t surprised by the (fans’) reaction. It is all earned and deserved.”
Huff designated for assignment
The Indians recalled left-hander Scott Barnes and designated left-hander David Huff for assignment.
Barnes was 2-2 with a 5.74 ERA in 12 relief appearances for Triple-A Columbus. In two previous stints with Cleveland this season, he was 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three relief outings.
Huff appeared in three games with the Indians, all in relief, and had a 0-0 record with a 15.00 ERA. In an 11-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night, he gave up three runs and four hits in one inning.
- WHO: Cleveland vs. Boston
- TIME: 7:10
- WHERE: Fenway Park
- PITCHERS: Masterson (7-2, 2.83 ERA) vs. Lackey (2-4, 3.31)
- TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM