He's been running out of time for three years now.
Avery, once one of baseball's most promising young lefties, had his best
outing for his new team as the streaking Red Sox beat Cleveland 3-1 Monday
night to take three of four from the Indians.
Avery (4-2) capped an encouraging road trip for last-place Boston. The Red
Sox have won six of eight, including five of six games on this trip that
began with a two-game sweep in Baltimore.
"We're showing people we can play some baseball," first baseman
Mo Vaughn said.
With that delightful delivery of his, Avery was dazzling once again - a
high-humming fastball, the fluent motion, and then a tantalizing changeup.
He bounced on the mound with confidence rarely seen since his 18-6 season
with Atlanta in 1993.
"I'm much more aggressive," said Avery, who lost a no-hitter and
shutout in the sixth inning but won his second straight start. "The
only thing I'm worried about is taking the ball and throwing it as hard
as I can. I'm not worried about making it sink or anything. I'm just throwing
Given Boston's predicament - 14 1/2 games out of first place - it was easy
just to sit back and enjoy Avery, who signed a $4.85 million contract with
the Red Sox for this season. If he keeps pitching like this, Avery will
either earn his keep or pique interest from a contending team looking for
pitching as the trade deadline approaches.
"I want to stay here. These guys have treated me well," Avery
said. "If they feel the need to trade me, I'll just try to stay healthy
and pitch somewhere else."
Avery has done nothing but impress the Indians, who could use another pitcher
for the stretch drive. The 27-year-old lefty is 3-0 against Cleveland this
season, becoming the first Boston pitcher to beat the Indians three times
in a season since Roger Clemens in 1992.
"I like the mound, and I know some of their hitters pretty well,"
said Avery, who played with current Indians David Justice and Marquis Grissom
Avery, 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled
list, didn't allow a hit until Julio Franco lined a clean single to center
leading off the sixth. He allowed one run and four hits in 7 2-3 innings,
pitching into the seventh for the third straight time.
Nonetheless, Omar Vizquel wasn't impressed.
"He didn't have much," said Vizquel, who had two of Cleveland's
four hits. "Fastball, changeup, a little cutter. The ball was right
there all the time. We didn't see the ball I guess."
Maybe Vizquel was just upset that Boston took the season series from Cleveland
6-5 after going 1-11 against the Indians last season. Cleveland is sputtering
as the Seattle Mariners arrive today for a three-game series.
"I don't think we're in a slump," Indians manager Mike Hargrove
said. "I think you have to realize they pitched very well against us."
After Franco led off the sixth with a single, Avery then had Vizquel's grounder
go off his glove for a hit. Grissom sacrificed the runners to second and
third, and Tony Fernandez hit a sacrifice fly that cut Boston's lead to
Boston added a run in the seventh on Reggie Jefferson's RBI single. Heathcliff
Slocumb pitched the ninth for his 15th save.
Cleveland rookie Jaret Wright (2-1) was impressive again, but lost for the
first time in the majors. He allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.
Notes: Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was back in the lineup a day
after getting hit on the left elbow by a pitch from Charles Nagy. ... Indians
catcher Sandy Alomar left the game after the fourth inning because of a
bruised left knee. "It's nothing serious," Hargrove said. ...
Injured Cleveland pitchers Chad Ogea and Brian Anderson should be ready
to throw off the mound soon. Jack McDowell is still relegated to long-toss