Early on Tuesday, particularly after the tough loss the night before, it would have been hard to find anyone in Red Sox Nation who said they were excited about the upcoming start by Doug Fister.
It’s understandable. Since coming to Boston in June, Fister has made 10 appearances, including seven starts, for a 2-6 record with a 5.56 ERA.
Though there were some positive signs (a 7.2 IP performance on July 31 where he yielded just two Indians runs at Fenway), there were also plenty of reasons for concern. After each rough outing, Fister dutifully met the media to say he was tweaking his delivery, that he was working to get better.
On Tuesday, Red Sox Nation got to see something special from Fister. The first complete game one-hitter by a Boston pitcher since Jon Lester on May 10, 2013, and the first coming on the road since Josh Beckett‘s on June 15, 2011 against the Rays.
Fister became just the fifth Red Sox pitcher with a one-hitter or better on the road since the year 2000, joining Beckett, Curt Schilling (2007), Hideo Nomo (2001, a no-hitter), and Pedro Martinez (2000).
Fister, is one of just six Red Sox pitchers since 1913 with a complete game one-hitter (or better) at age 33 or older since Schilling’s complete game shutout on June 6, 2007 at Oakland.
After a Home Run, Indians Go Silent
The game didn’t start auspiciously. First there was rain, which delayed the first pitch to 8:23 ET.
Hanley Ramírez‘ first inning RBI, driving in Andrew Benintendi, seemed a good start. But when Fister took the mound in the bottom of the first, he immediately blew the early lead when Francisco Lindor took him deep on just his second pitch of the game.
112 pitches later, however, Doug Fister would walk to the clubhouse having not allowed a single subsequent hit.
Tuesday’s was Fister’s eighth career complete game (his first since September 26, 2014), his first to allow just a single opponent hit.
Pitching, Batting and Fielding
Everything was in sync for the Red Sox on Tuesday.
Sox offense exploded for 12 hits, including two apiece for Ramírez, Sandy León, Eduardo Núñez, and Jackie Bradley, with the latter two connecting for home runs.
For Núñez, Tuesday ended an 0-for-13 skid that saw him hitless in consecutive games for just the first time since May 7-9 (3 games). His three-run eighth inning blast was his ninth HR of the season and his first of the year coming with men on base.
Bradley’s majestic, 408-foot center field home run left the bat at 100.1 MPH. The Sox improved to 42-10 (.808) for Bradley’s career when he goes deep.
In the top of the seventh, Bradley came around to score with a beautiful slide on a Núñez double. The Indians challenged the safe call, but it was upheld on appeal. Bradley, however, injured his thumb on the slide. After the game, Manager John Farrell said that x-rays on Bradley were negative but that he would return to Boston for further evaluation on Wednesday. For his part, Bradley told reporters post-game that he was sore, but that he was not worried about the injury.
Rafael Devers, 0-for-5 on Tuesday, nevertheless made his presence known on the field. His defensive work at third base finally brings some stability after two-thirds of a season filled with turmoil there.
Tuesday’s win was the 411th for Sox manager Farrell. He’s now tied with Don Zimmer for seventh-most in franchise history.
Since June 3, the Red Sox are 38-of-43 (.884) when scoring at least four runs.
Feel Good Win
The Sox gained no ground on the Yankees Tuesday, as the Bombers pounded the Tigers for a 13-4 victory.
Boston will face a tough challenge in Game 3 on Wednesday when Drew Pomeranz takes on Cleveland’s Corey Kluber. Still, Tuesday’s solid win over a very tough challenger was just the tonic this team—and this fan base—needed to look ahead positively.