Series Preview #22: Cleveland Indians (33-33) at Boston Red Sox (29-36)
Bob Toth | On 12, Jun 2014
Every time that it appears the Cleveland Indians figure out how to win on the road, they turn around and forget again. They will need to remember in a hurry, as there is no rest for the club as it continues its lengthy road trip with a four-game stop in Boston at Fenway Park starting Thursday night.
The Indians (33-33) had climbed right back into the thick of the American League Central Division race with strong play of late. Struggling mightily on the road this season (12-22), they dropped a pair in Kansas City after taking three of four from the Texas Rangers to move to 3-3 on their ten-game road trip. In their short set with the Royals, they lost on Tuesday in a rare offensive explosion from Kansas City, 9-5, and fell 4-1 on Wednesday afternoon after the Royals scored on four sacrifice flies.
Despite the unsuccessful series against the Royals, they remain just two and a half games in back of the Detroit Tigers, who have dropped three in a row of their own.
The fourth place Red Sox (29-36) return home after scoring just one run while dropping two of three against the Orioles in Baltimore this week. They will start their six-game home stretch against the Indians with the hopes of improving their season record at home from 15-17 to something closer or above the .500 mark. They lost 4-0 on Monday and had just three hits. The Red Sox staff limited the Orioles to just two hits in a 1-0 victory on Tuesday. The O’s then returned the scoreless favor, blanking the Sox on just four hits in a 6-0 final on Wednesday.
Jon Lester (6-7, 3.52 ERA) will throw the first pitch of the series at 7:10 PM ET on Thursday night at Fenway Park. He logged his shortest outing of the season on Saturday against Detroit when he allowed five runs on 12 hits in four and one-third. Josh Tomlin (4-2, 3.12) will oppose for the Tribe. He threw a gem against the Rangers on Saturday, pitching into the ninth inning while allowing three runs on seven hits.
John Lackey (7-4, 3.18) will make his second start of the season against the Indians on Friday night. He has gone eight innings in each of his last two starts and four different times this year. Justin Masterson (4-4, 4.61) will counter against his former squad. He struck out a season-high ten batters in earning a win on June 2nd against Boston. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Jake Peavy (1-4, 4.76) will start Saturday afternoon’s 4:05 PM ET start. He has not won a decision since April 25th and has been tagged with the loss in each of his last two starts. T.J. House (0-1, 5.24) is scheduled to go for Cleveland. He was hit hard against Texas on Monday and did not factor in the decision despite a 17-7 final.
Brandon Workman (1-0, 2.86) will conclude the season series between the two clubs on Sunday afternoon against Corey Kluber (6-4, 3.35). Workman allowed just one hit in six and two-thirds innings his last start. Kluber was charged with his first loss since April 29th on Tuesday after allowing six runs (three earned). Game time is scheduled for 1:35 PM ET.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and NESN will air all four games of the series. The MLB Network will also air Friday night’s contest.
For those in need of radio versions of the broadcasts, they will be made available by the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and WEEI 93.7 in Boston.
First baseman Nick Swisher (hyperextended left knee) will fly to Boston for the series against the Red Sox and could be activated sometime over the weekend.
Pitcher Zach McAllister (lower back strain) remains on the 15-day disabled list but was scheduled to also travel to Boston to meet with the club after a strong rehab outing on Tuesday. He allowed two runs on three hits over six innings. Francona and his staff will meet with McAllister there to game plan a way to work him back into action.
Outfielder Nyjer Morgan remains on the 60-day DL with his sprained right knee.
The Red Sox disabled list has thinned out some since the last time the two clubs met.
Outfielders Mike Carp (right foot fracture) and Shane Victorino (right hamstring strain) and third baseman Will Middlebrooks (fractured right index finger) are also on the 15-day DL. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway (left wrist surgery) is on the 60-day DL.
Shortstop Stephen Drew is considered day-to-day with right oblique soreness.
The Sox signed veteran outfielder Andres Torres to a minor league contract on Wednesday.
HOT OR NOT
Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall both extended their hitting streaks to nine games through the series with the Royals. Chisenhall is hitting .583 with four home runs and 13 RBI in the last week to push his batting average for the season to .393. Kipnis has pulled his season mark to .250 behind a .308 average in the last week. He has six RBI in that span.
Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. is batting just .182 in his last ten games and .201 for the season. He has struck out ten times in his last 17 plate appearances.
Xander Bogaerts hit the Indians well earlier this season. He had four hits in 13 at bats (.308) with a pair of home runs and three runs batted in. He has fallen into a slump on late, hitting .163 in his last ten games. He is hitless in his last 16 at bats.
Brock Holt had hit in every game in the month of June until Wednesday’s game, which saw his ten-game hitting streak snapped. He is hitting .331 on the season and .385 in the last week. He was 3-for-15 (.200) with three singles and two RBI in his previous series against the Indians.
With the three-game sweep of Boston when they came through Cleveland at the beginning of June, the Indians improved to 1,028-969 all-time against the Red Sox. Boston holds a 49 game advantage in the win column while playing at home.
Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau is best remembered for his 13 years manning shortstop and the dugout of the Cleveland Indians. It is often forgotten that the tail end of his career was spent in Boston.
Boudreau made his debut with the Tribe in 1938 as a 20-year-old. He appeared in one game and made a pair of hitless plate appearances. By 1940, he was making his first of five consecutive All-Star game appearances, twice leading the league in doubles and once in games played. In 1942, he took over the managerial role for the club in addition to his starting shortstop position.
At the end of the 1947 season, Indians owner Bill Veeck floated the idea of trading Boudreau to the St. Louis Browns after the shortstop hit .307 with a league leading 45 doubles and another All-Star appearance. The uproar from the Cleveland fan base, after hearing of the rumored discussion at a Manhattan restaurant, ended any chance of him leaving town, and in the end it was one of the better decisions Veeck would make.
Boudreau captained the Indians for their 1948 World Series winning season, hitting .355 with 18 home runs, 106 RBI, 116 runs scored, 199 hits, and 98 walks, all career highs. He would make his final All-Star game appearance and would be named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. In an unbelievable statistic in any day and age of the game, Boudreau struck out just nine times in 676 plate appearances.
Boudreau was fired from his manager position following the 1950 season, one that saw the Indians finish 92-62 and in fourth place in the American League, and was released. He signed shortly thereafter with Boston. His best years were behind him, as he played 82 games in 1951, hitting .267, and appeared in four games for the club with three plate appearances in 1952. He took over as the manager of the Red Sox that season and spent 1952-1954 leading the club from the dugout before moving on to guide the Kansas City Athletics for parts of three seasons. He filled in as the skipper of the Chicago Cubs for 139 games in 1960 to end his managerial career. He later moved into the broadcast booth for both the Cubs and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.
Boudreau was elected to the Hall of Fame as a player in 1970. He passed away in 2001.
Cleveland will return home after their lengthy road trip for a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels starting Monday night. Boston will continue their homestand with three games against the Minnesota Twins.
Photo: AP Photo/Colin E. Braley