BOSTON (AP) – Cleveland closer Cody Allen hung on in the last two innings, and the Indians beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 Monday night to complete a three-game sweep of their AL Division Series.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz walked in the final plate appearance of his major league career but could only watch from the dugout when Travis Shaw hit a game-ending flyout with a pair of runners on.
Rookie Tyler Naquin delivered a two-run single and Josh Tomlin pitched five strong innings for Cleveland, which reached the AL Championship Series for the first time since 2007 and opens against Toronto at home on Friday.
Cleveland went 4-3 this year against the wild-card Blue Jays, who swept AL West champion Texas to reach the ALCS for the second straight year. The Indians had not won a playoff series in nine years, when they beat the New York Yankees and then wasted a 3-1 lead over the Red Sox in the ALCS.
Perhaps inspired by the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA title – the city’s first pro sports championship since 1964 – there would be no blowing this lead.
Coco Crisp hit a two-run homer Allen got four outs, escaping jams in the eighth and ninth. The AL Central champions earned just their second postseason sweep; the other was over Boston in 1995.
Ortiz came out on the field after the Indians’ celebration and had tears in his eyes as the fans acknowledged the 40-year-old, who helped the Red Sox win three World Series titles. After hitting 38 homers, the most for a player in his final season, he was 1 for 9 against the Indians. He was hitless with two walks Monday, hitting a sacrifice fly in the sixth with two on instead of the three-run homer the Fenway Park crowd wanted.
Making it their goal to send their beloved Big Papi out as a winner, the Red Sox managed to win the AL East – the second time in four seasons they went from worst to first.
Boston raised fans’ hopes with a late-September 11-game winning streak but then lost eight of its last nine games, including the playoffs.
Following a one-day postponement caused by rain, the Indians took a 2-0 lead off Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning on Naquin’s single.
Tomlin gave up Andrew Benintendi’s Green Monster-scraping RBI double in the fifth, which gave some life to the Fenway crowd.
But with one run in, one out, one on and the fans taunting the Indians starter – “Tom-lin! Tom-lin!” – he struck out Sandy Leon on a pitch in the dirt and then Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded out to first. In the sixth, Crisp hit a two-run homer over the left-field wall to make it 4-1.
Buchholz allowed two runs and six hits in four innings, joining David Price and Rick Porcello as postseason losers.
Tomlin allowed two runs on four in five-plus innings. Andrew Miller pitched two innings, Bryan Shaw got two outs and Allen came on to face Ortiz with two out and a man on first in the eighth.
After walking on four pitches – the final plate appearance of his career – Ortiz stood on first and waved his arms at the mostly dormant crowd of at 39,530. The fans rose to cheer for him and stayed there as Hanley Ramirez singled to make it 4-3.
Now representing the tying run at second, Ortiz was lifted for pinch-runner Marco Hernandez, leaving the field to a raucous cheer. But even after coming out of the game, his work wasn’t done: With one foot on the top step of the dugout, he continued to cheer the team on.
Xander Bogaerts hit a hard line drive to second and Ortiz jumped onto the dirt, only to turn around and walk dejectedly back into the dugout when it was caught for the last out.
Jackie Bradley Jr. singled with two out in the ninth, then Dustin Pedroia drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Travis Shaw worked the count full before flying to medium right.