CLEVELAND -- Indians starter Mitch Talbot said it was just one those days, but the implosion at Progressive Field on Wednesday was much more than that. It was one of those days where parents shielded their children's eyes.
Talbot's unraveling was swift and overwhelming, sending the Tribe on its way to a 14-2 rout at the hands of the Red Sox. Boston lefty Jon Lester would have been forgiven for chuckling from his seat in the visitors' dugout.
Lester had a seven-run cushion before throwing a pitch.
"We didn't have a very good chance," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It's not a very good feeling when before you get to the plate you're trailing 7-0 against Jon Lester.
"I don't think even the '27 Yankees would have a good feeling trailing 7-0 against this guy."
It was a rare collapse in an otherwise fundamentally-strong season from the American League Central-leading Indians (30-17). The Tribe's strength this season has been solid pitching, but Talbot was unable to maintain that trend in his first outing for Cleveland since April 11.
In his last start for the Indians, Talbot held the Angels scoreless over eight innings in Anaheim. Of course, that was more than a month and one right elbow strain ago. Against the Red Sox, Talbot surrendered seven runs on nine hits in the first inning and eight runs on 12 hits in three frames overall.
"It was rough," Talbot said. "I wasn't making my pitches, first off. I wasn't hitting my spots, but it was almost like even if I was, they were still going to find holes somewhere. It was just kind of one of those days."
One of those days the Indians want to forget as quickly as possible.
Lester used the early flourish to his advantage, pounding the strike zone and cruising to a win for the Red Sox (27-22). The lefty struck out seven and allowed three hits in six shutout innings before letting Boston's bullpen handle the rest. The Tribe struck for two runs in the eighth, but the damage had been done.
"Obviously it's good," Lester said of the Boston's large lead. "It takes a lot of pressure off of not only me, but the defense. You don't have to be perfect. You can attack guys and establish your fastball, and I was able to do that today."
Following an off-day on Thursday, Cleveland embarks on a six-game swing through St. Petersburg to play the Rays and Toronto to take on the Blue Jays. After that, the Indians host the reigning AL champions from Texas. Up to this point, the Tribe has shown an ability to shrug off tough defeats.
Acta does not expect that to change.
"They're not going to give up," Acta said. "That's their character. That's what we've got here. These guys are not going to lay down. Whoever lays down is probably going to be laying down somewhere else in the future. We don't want people like that around here."
Talbot admittedly did himself no favors out of the gates.
In his three innings on the hill, Talbot fell behind in the count to 15 of the 22 batters he faced. Six others put the first pitch he fired off in play. That left only one hitter that fell behind in the count against the right-hander. It is hard to succeed under such circumstances.
"He was ahead of the count on one hitter," Acta said. "That pretty much sums it up for him. He doesn't have the overpowering stuff to pitch behind in the count, and he just couldn't do it today. They hit him hard."
Two batters into the afternoon, Dustin Pedroia launched a 3-1 offering from Talbot deep to center field for a two-run home run. Carl Crawford, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Cameron and Drew Sutton later contributed one RBI apiece. Pedroia capped off the seven-run eruption in the first inning with a run-scoring single.
"Any time you're facing a team like that," infielder Adam Everett said, "when they smell blood, they just keep going. They put it to us in the first inning and we knew it was going to be tough to come back after that."
Adrian Gonzalez added an RBI single in the third inning off Talbot, who hit the showers on the heels of 74 pitches and an 8-0 hole for his team. Cleveland reliever Frank Herrmann did not fare much better, surrendering homers to Crawford, David Ortiz and Saltalamacchia in his 2 1/3 innings.
Saltalamacchia's three-run blast highlighted a five-run outpouring in the sixth inning that put the Indians down, 14-0. In all, Boston churned out 20 hits, marking the most Cleveland has allowed this season. The loss was the worst showing by Tribe pitchers since the Opening Day disappointment in which Chicago scored 15 runs.
It would have been easy for Acta to cite Talbot's six-week absence from the rotation as an explanation, but the manager would not go down that road.
"What long layoff?" Acta said. "He pitched in Triple-A. It's 60 feet, six inches wherever you go. We're not going to make excuses for anybody. We've never done it and we're not going to start now.
"He pitched five days ago, just in a different stadium."
Talbot, who saw his season ERA balloon from 1.46 to 5.87 during his forgettable outing, indicated that his arm felt fine.
Like Acta, Talbot did not make any excuses.
"I didn't help myself out," said the pitcher.
And now the Indians will look to move on.
"We're better than this," Everett said. "It's just one of those days."