Series Preview #38: Cleveland Indians (54-62) at Boston Red Sox (52-65)
Bob Toth | On 17, Aug 2015
A couple steps forward, a couple steps back. That has been the case this season as the Cleveland Indians continue to display a phobia of the .500 mark. After a strong homestand that included taking two of three from playoff contenders Minnesota and New York, the Indians went into the Twins still new house in Minneapolis and saw the resurgent offense dry up by the end of the weekend.
The Indians (54-62) got the elusive series opening win on Friday night, backed by another flirtation with history by starter Corey Kluber. The Indians won, 6-1, as the Twins managed just a solo home run off of Kluber in the seventh inning. Cleveland was stymied 4-1 in Saturday and Sunday’s games, as the offense disappeared while swinging at some bad pitches out of the strike zone and unable to capitalize on the big inning when the opportunity presented itself.
The Red Sox (52-65) have been a disappointment this season after spending significantly in the offseason to bring in expensive bats from the west coast. The pitching staff, however, left something to be desired and the team has unloaded veteran and expiring contracts in the time since the trading deadline, moving the likes of Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, and Justin Masterson. Possibly inspired by the news surrounding manager John Farrell and his need to step away on medical leave, the club erupted for 15 runs in a 15-1 win over Seattle on Friday and 22 more in a 22-10 victory on Saturday. The offense was potent enough to get them back into the game on Sunday, scoring twice in the ninth to send the game to extras, but losing 10-8 in 12.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Salazar leads the Indians staff with his 3.26 ERA and is tied for sixth in the American League in strikeouts with 151. He has allowed just eight hits over his last three starts, a span of 21 1/3 innings and is 2-0 in those games. Barnes, a rookie right-hander, will get the call-up from Pawtucket for the start. He last pitched for the Red Sox on July 10th against the Yankees when he hit a batter and walked another. It will be his first Major League start after making 21 relief appearances throughout the season.
Bauer was roughed up his last time out, allowing six earned runs in a game for the fifth time this season. He is the AL’s walk leader so far this season with 57 and has allowed 23 homers, fifth-most in the league. Eleven of the blasts have come in the second half, more than all but one MLB pitcher. Rodriguez, the highly touted rookie acquired from the Baltimore Orioles at the trade deadline last season, will make his first career start Tuesday against the Indians. He is coming off of one of the worst starts in his young career after he allowed eight runs on nine hits in five innings in a loss to the Miami Marlins on Wednesday.
Kluber is third in the AL with 193 strikeouts and could topple the 200-mark for the second time in his career in this start. It will require some work, as the Red Sox have the second fewest strikeouts in the Majors. He is coming off of a fantastic one-hitter against the Twins on Friday. It has been an up and down year for the hard-throwing right-hander Kelly, who the Red Sox acquired last season at the deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals. He was demoted in the final week of June after starting the season with a 2-5 record and a 5.67 ERA in 14 starts. He has won each of his last three starts and has allowed just three earned runs over his last eleven and one-third innings in wins against Detroit and Seattle. He made his MLB debut against the Indians on June 10th, 2012, allowing just one earned run on seven hits in five innings of work.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and NESN will broadcast all three games of the weekday series. Local affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and WEEI 93.7 FM in Boston will provide radio calls throughout the series. Former Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers announcer Joe Castiglione is in his 33rd season calling Red Sox games on the radio.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT. GB WCGB STREAK
Kansas City 71-46 .607 – – W3
Minnesota 59-58 .504 12.0 1.5 W2
Detroit 56-61 .479 15.0 4.5 L1
Chicago 55-60 .478 15.0 4.5 W1
Cleveland 54-62 .466 16.5 6.0 L2
The Indians hold a 59-game advantage all-time in the series between the two clubs. In 2,009 games, Cleveland is 1,030-971. On the road, they are just 477-526.
The clubs first met on May 25th, 1901, when the Boston Americans defeated the Cleveland Blues, 5-0. Boston owned Cleveland that first season, winning 12 of 18 contests. Last season, the edge went to the Indians, as they swept an early June series in Cleveland and split a four-gamer at Fenway Park to win the season series, 5-2. Closer Cody Allen earned a win and three saves over the seven games.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Cody Anderson (SP) – 15-day disabled list (August 8) – left oblique strain
Shawn Armstrong (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (August 15)
Michael Brantley (OF) – day-to-day – left shoulder inflammation; missed series against Minnesota
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – recovery from March 2015 right elbow surgery
Nick Hagadone (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 8) – recovery from July 2015 left elbow surgery
Chris Johnson (UTL) – day-to-day – swollen finger; missed final two games of Minnesota series
Jason Kipnis (2B) – 15-day disabled list (August 2) – right shoulder inflammation; could return Tuesday
Ryan Raburn (UTL) – activated from bereavement list (August 15)
Josh Tomlin (P) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (August 15)
Zach Walters (UTL) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (August 15)
Matt Barnes (P) – recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket (August 17)
Clay Buchholz (SP) – 60-day disabled list (July 28) – right flexor strain
Dustin Pedroia (2B) – 15-day disabled list (July 23) – right hamstring strain
Rick Porcello (SP) – 15-day disabled list (July 30) – right triceps strain; has begun rehab assignment
Hanley Ramirez (LF) – day-to-day – sore left foot
Pablo Sandoval (3B) – day-to-day right elbow bruise
Koji Uehara (CL) – 15-day disabled list (August 8) – non-displaced distal radius fracture in right wrist
Anthony Varvaro (RP) – 60-day disabled list (May 27) – recovery from May 2015 right elbow surgery
Christian Vazquez (C) – 60-day disabled list (March 30) – recovery from April 2015 Tommy John surgery
Brandon Workman (P) – 60-day disabled list (June 3) – recovery from June 2015 Tommy John surgery
Steven Wright (SP) – 7-day disabled list (August 15) – concussion
DOWN ON THE FARM
If you have not followed the progress of some of the Indians minor league prospects this season, one big and young slugger is trying desperately to land on the radar of those willing to watch. Bobby Bradley, the Indians 19-year-old left-handed hitting slugger, has continued to impress in his young professional career. After winning the Arizona League MVP in the offseason while winning the Triple Crown for the Indians affiliate, he has displayed incredible raw power for the Lake County Captains at Class-A.
Cleveland’s number seven prospect, according to MLB.com Pipeline, hit a home run for the fifth straight game on Sunday afternoon, giving him a Midwest League and Tribe organizational high of 25 this season.
Bradley was the Indians third round pick of the 2014 June amateur draft.
BY THE NUMBERS
Xander Bogaerts has been able to find his way on base plenty in the second half for the Red Sox. The shortstop is hitting .347 in the second half with 35 singles, six doubles, and a homer. His 42 hits since the break are the third-most in the AL in that time.
Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor is right behind him on that list with 40 hits since the All-Star break. He is hitting .354 in that stretch with three homers, six doubles, and 32 singles. An 0-for-3 day at the plate on Sunday brought an end to his career-high ten-game hitting streak.
David Ortiz, the longtime Boston DH, is hitting .356 with ten homers and 30 RBI since the Midsummer Classic. His 36 hits are ninth-best in the AL since the break and just one more than Indians outfielder Brantley, whose eleven doubles in the second half are the second-most in the AL. “Dr. Smooth” is hitting .380 with a .463 on-base percentage since play resumed.
New Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo has the unenviable task of having to replace John Farrell, who has stepped away for the rest of the season from the Boston club while undergoing chemotherapy to treat what he has described as a highly curable form of stage one lymphoma.
Lovullo, like Farrell, spent time in the Indians organization before landing in Boston as the bench coach for the Red Sox following the 2012 season.
He spent parts of eight seasons in the Majors, including a brief stop with the Indians in 1998. After his playing career ended with a season in Japan in 2000, he joined the Indians as a roving coordinator in 2001. He worked his way up through their farm system while Farrell was the director of player development for the Indians from 2002 to 2006. Lovullo managed at Class-A, Double-A, and Triple-A for the Indians from 2002 to 2009 and moved on to Pawtucket as Boston’s Triple-A manager in 2010.
The Indians will pack up for a short hop down the Atlantic coast as they head to the Big Apple for a four-game set with the playoff hunting New York Yankees beginning Thursday night. The Indians put a dent in their postseason pursuit last week by taking two of three from the Bronx Bombers. The Red Sox will continue their ten-game homestand by taking on the Kansas City Royals for four straight starting Thursday.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images