The wind was blowing in hard as Northeast Ohio felt the effects of Hurricane Joaquin. It made no difference to David Ortiz, whose two-run homer rocketed through the strong gusts.
Ortiz returned to the lineup after missing three of the previous six games because of general soreness, but his 37th home run of the season — and 503rd of his career — wasn't enough as the Boston Red Sox lost to the Cleveland Indians 8-2 Friday night.
"What can I say about David?" Boston interim manager Torey Lovullo said. "Plays in some tough conditions, hits a big home run, gets us right back in the game. It just keeps getting better every game."
Lovullo said Thursday he would leave it up to Ortiz if he wanted to play in the final series of the season. Lovullo was impressed the 39-year-old slugger chose to play on a night when the game-time temperature was 54 degrees with a 20 mph wind blowing in from right field.
"[Ortiz] wants to play for all the right reasons," Lovullo said. "He wants to play to win a game. He wants to play to do well. He wants to play to show his younger teammates that this is what a championship-style player does. It speaks volumes about his character."
Henry Owens (4-4) allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings for the Red Sox. He had been pitching well to close out his rookie season, going 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in his previous four starts.
Cleveland scored four runs in the third — highlighted by Carlos Santana's three-run double - and three in the fifth.
The loss dropped the Red Sox (78-82) out of a third-place tie in the AL East and means Boston will finish under .500 for the second straight season. Ortiz, however, is encouraged by the team's improved play down the stretch.
"We're looking good," Ortiz said before the game. "Hopefully what we've been seeing in the past three weeks carries over for next year. I love to see young players perform at the highest level."
Josh Tomlin (7-2) gave up two runs in 6 1-3 innings, capping off a strong season after undergoing shoulder surgery in March.
Ortiz is 2 for 14 against Tomlin in his career, but both hits have been home runs. Tomlin wasn't surprised Ortiz drove the ball through a strong wind that made it feel much colder than 54 degrees.
"I've seen him hit some balls a long way," Tomlin said. "One of them was off me before that one, so this is the second time."
Boston center fielder Mookie Betts got his 10th assist of the season when he threw out Francisco Lindor at the plate in the first. Betts walked in the eighth and has reached base in 35 consecutive games.
Indians manager Terry Francona has kept in touch with John Farrell throughout the Boston manager's chemotherapy treatments. Farrell was Francona's pitching coach in Boston.
"I'm a very good texter," Francona said. "He's a buddy of mine. I keep track of him."
Lovullo took over on Aug. 14 when Farrell began his treatments. The Red Sox have gone 28-18 since.
"He's done a really good job," Francona said. "I'm a big fan of Torey. Torey's been interviewing (for other managerial openings previously) and it seems like now he's had a two-month interview and he's probably aced it."
Red Sox: Lovullo said C Ryan Hanigan (sore right hand) is day to day, but he's likely emergency-only for the final series.
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis, who has been playing with shoulder and neck injuries for several weeks, wasn't in the lineup.
Red Sox: LHP Craig Breslow will make his second start of the season Saturday and is expected to throw 50-60 pitches. He pitched four shutout innings against Baltimore on Sept. 26.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber, who hasn't won since Aug. 14, will make his final start of the season. He's 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA in six career appearances against Boston.