CLEVELAND -- The Indians are happy to see the Red Sox leave town. Boston still does not have any wins this season, and its fans might be on the verge of panicking in the streets surrounding Fenway Park, but Cleveland knows better.
"I'm glad we're done, at least for now, with them," manager Manny Acta. "They're going to go off at any time and beat up on a lot of people. They're very talented."
The Red Sox are probably more thrilled to be done with the Tribe, considering all the torment endured over the past three days at Progressive Field. On Thursday, the Indians came out ahead in a hard-fought duel between aces Fausto Carmona and Jon Lester, using some late-afternoon trickery to pull off a 1-0 victory.
A perfectly-placed suicide squeeze bunt from Asdrubal Cabrera did the Red Sox in during a pivotal eighth inning, serving as the game's decisive blow and sealing a three-game series sweep for the Tribe. For Boston, the end result was an 0-6 start for the first time since World War II ended in 1945.
Things are going considerably better for the Indians, who are coming off consecutive seasons with at least 90 losses. With the win over Boston, Cleveland has run to a 4-2 mark for the first time since 2007, when it finished with 96 wins and reached Game 7 of the American League Championship series vs. the Sox. The Tribe is also two games over the break-even mark for the first time since Sept. 22, 2008.
"It does nothing but help the confidence that these kids already had," Acta said. "We did beat a very good ballclub. Regardless if they're struggling or not, we won."
The win was the fourth in a row for this Indians squad -- a group with the third-youngest roster in baseball. Cleveland's first victory in the current run came against the White Sox, who are an early favorite for the AL Central crown. Much more has been predicted for the Red Sox.
Coming off another offseason filled with blockbuster additions, Boston was a favorite among many prognosticators for a World Series triumph. The Red Sox might still deliver. That said, it is worth noting that no AL team in baseball history has reached the playoffs after beginning a season with an 0-5 record.
This seemed like more than just any old April sweep for the Indians.
"It's very, very important to sweep that team," Carmona said. "Everybody knows that's a very, very good team. But play hard and everybody is the same. I don't care about that. I don't care about who's coming to the plate or who's pitching. Play hard against everybody."
Carmona, who allowed 10 runs over three innings in his season debut on Opening Day, did not earn a win, but he handled Boston's hitters with ease for seven innings. On a cold and foggy afternoon, Carmona's slider had a strong break and his sinker was heavy. He yielded only three hits.
Lester -- also coming off a subpar performance -- simply overpowered the Tribe's offense. The lefty scattered three hits and finished with nine strikeouts in his seven innings of work for Boston. Like Carmona, Lester did not earn a decision after his dominating performance.
"Wow. God, that kid is unbelievable," second baseman Orlando Cabrera said of Lester. "The ball moves everywhere. It's never straight. He's extremely intelligent, and his pitch selection, he never forgets how he gets you out."
Cleveland's best chance against Lester came in the seventh, when Shelley Duncan led off with a double. After grounding out and striking out earlier in the game, Austin Kearns decided on his own to attempt a sacrifice bunt. Kearns popped out to the catcher, and Lester induced two more groundouts to escape unscathed.
Both Carmona and Lester bowed out at 109 pitches apiece.
From there, it became a battle of the bullpens.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Red Sox put two runners aboard against righty Chad Durbin. Lefty Rafael Perez entered the game and shut the door with a pair of groundouts. In the home half of the frame, it was the Tribe's turn to make a run with Boston's Daniel Bard on the hill.
Bard did himself no favors by issuing a leadoff walk to Adam Everett, who then stole second base. With the game still deadlocked, Orlando Cabrera used a sacrifice bunt to move Everett to third base. At that point, Acta decided that a squeeze was in order.
"The whole dugout knew we were squeezing," Cabrera said. "We know the signs. But, hey, that's the type of team we are. We do the unexpected."
The Red Sox knew it might be coming.
"You've got to figure at some point they might try it," Boston manager Terry Francona said.
On the fourth pitch he faced, Asdrubal Cabrera squared up and sent the ball rolling sharply down the third-base line. Everett was sprinting home on the play, leaving no time for third baseman Kevin Youkilis to throw him out at the plate. Everett scored, the crowd erupted and the Indians had the only run required.
"It wasn't a perfect pitch," Cabrera said, "but I was able to do it."
Boston tried to piece together one last rally against Indians closer Chris Perez, but to no avail.
David Ortiz drew a two-out walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Darnell McDonald. J.D. Drew then chopped a pitch toward Perez, who deflected the ball to the right side of the infield. On the play, McDonald ran hard through second base.
Then, McDonald slipped.
Everett, manning third base, retrieved the ball and fired it to Orlando Cabrera at second base. Cabrera applied a tag before McDonald could retreat to the bag, and then the second baseman pumped his fist hard after the win was clinched.
It was a dramatic ending to a satisfying series for the Tribe.
"That's a great baseball team over there," Everett said. "That's not a good team. That's a great team. We caught them at a time where they're a little down -- not swinging the bats like they can.
"Any time you can sweep a team like that, that's huge for this team. Being a young team, being a team that didn't finish up great last year, and getting off to a start like this, it's huge."