Mostly likely it depends on what side of the scoreboard they end up on. But on Monday night, the Indians stepped on stage with the best the big leagues had to offer and proved they belonged. At least for a night.
Greg Allen hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning and Corey Kluber rebounded from a shaky start to lead the Indians to a 5-4 victory over Boston at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox entered the game with the best record in baseball at 88-37, a mere 51 games over .500. The Indians, 14-4 in August, took them down a notch.
Allen's two-run homer in the seventh broke a 3-3 tie. It came with two out and extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games. In his first two-bats, Allen was robbed of hits by right fielder Mookie Betts and left fielder Andrew Benintendi.
The homer was the Tribe's third of the night, all of them coming against starter Rick Porcello (15-6, 4.14). The Indians trailed 3-0 entering the fifth inning when Melky Cabrera hit a leadoff homer. It was his fifth of the season and second in as many games.
Michael Brantley pulled the Indians into a 3-3 tie with a two-run homer in the sixth. It was Brantley's 14th homer and second in August.
Allen's homer came right after Yan Gomes sent a liner back to the mound that hit Porcello in the midsection. He scurried after the ball, but was able to throw to second to force Jason Kipnis for the second out. Porcello, after being check by a Boston trainer, gave up Allen's homer two pitches later.
Kluber (16-6, 2.74) allowed three runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked one to improve to 4-0 in his last five starts.
The Red Sox jumped him early. Xander Bogaerts singled with two-outs in the first to drive in Mitch Moreland and J.D. Martinez for a 2-0 lead. In the second, Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled with two out and scored a single by Betts.
Kluber pitched into the seventh to beat the Red Sox for just the third time in his career. Porcello is 10-5 against the Indians.
What the Indians did to Boston on Monday night hasn't happened often this year. The Red Sox came into the game with a 64-4 record when leading after five innings. They were 44-16 at home with wins in 20 or their last 24 games at Fenway.
It was not easy as the Red Sox rallied for a run in the ninth against closer Cody Allen. It ended when Allen retired Ian Kinsler with runners on first and second for his 25th save.
The bullpen provided 2 2/3 solid innings of relief until Allen faced six batters in the ninth.
What it means
The Indians entered Monday night's game trailing the Astros by 3 1/2 games for the right to host the ALDS in October. The Astros avoided an Oakland sweep, and regained first place in the AL West, with a 9-4 win on Sunday.
The A's, who have won seven of their last 10 games, still have a strong hold on the second wild card behind the Yankees.
Porcello threw 107 pitches, 74 (69 percent) for strikes. Kluber threw 108 pitches, 65 (60 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Indians and Red Sox drew a sellout crowd of 37,274 to Fenway Park on Monday night. First pitch was at 7:10 p.m. with a temperature of 70 degrees
Rookie Shane Bieber (6-2, 4.37) will face the Red Sox and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (5-4, 3.62) tonight. Game time is 7:10 p.m. with SportsTime Ohio and WLKR-FM 95.3 carrying the game.
Bieber, coming off a no-decision against Cincinnati, will be facing the Red Sox for the first time. Eovaldi is 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA with Boston since being acquired from Tampa Bay. He's 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three appearances against the Indians.