Indians Head to Boston to Battle the Red Sox
Bob Toth | On 20, May 2016
Maybe, just maybe, the Cleveland Indians have finally put it all together.
Good starting pitching. Impressive hitting displays. Timely offensive contributions. Production in the lineup one through nine, even including the pitching staff during the club’s two interleague games in Cincinnati during the week. The Indians (21-17) have a season-high four-game winning streak and, conveniently enough, are four games above .500 and have pulled within two and a half games of the first place Chicago White Sox in the American League Central Division.
It’s a good time to be a Cleveland fan, and while some of the attention is diverted from the Indians with the NBA’s Cavaliers steamrolling through the Eastern Conference Playoffs on their way towards a potential second consecutive NBA Finals appearance, the city’s MLB squad is deserving of the little attention it can pull away from LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and the championship contending Cavs. After another strangely difficult series last weekend with the Minnesota Twins, they claimed the Battle for Ohio by sweeping a two-game home set at Progressive Field in resounding fashion, only to head to Cincinnati and take two more from the Reds on their own home turf.
After a Monday postponement in Kansas City, the Red Sox (24-16) lost Tuesday night before splitting a doubleheader on Wednesday. The Sox had been on a tear over the last couple of weeks after losing two of three to the Yankees in New York. They won the finale of the series before sweeping the Oakland A’s and taking three of four from the Houston Astros.
Friday, 5/20, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (2-5, 4.30 ERA) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (2-3, 6.11)
Saturday, 5/21, 4:05 PM ET – RHP Trevor Bauer (3-1, 3.89) vs. TBD
Sunday, 5/22, 1:35 PM ET – RHP Danny Salazar (4-2, 1.80) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (6-2, 3.51)
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all games); NESN; MLB Network (out-of-market areas)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WEEI 93.7 (Boston)
Cody Anderson (SP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (May 17)
Michael Brantley (LF) – 15-day disabled list (May 10) – right shoulder inflammation
Carlos Carrasco (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 24) – moderate left hamstring strain
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – activated from bereavement list (May 17)
Mike Clevinger (SP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (May 18)
Tyler Naquin (CF) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (May 18)
Roberto Perez (C) – 60-day disabled list (May 1) – fractured right thumb; transferred to 60-day May 14
Joe Kelly (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 20) – right shoulder impingement
Noe Ramirez (P) – recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday; optioned on Thursday
Eduardo Rodriguez (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 2) – patella subluxation in right knee
Pablo Sandoval (3B) – 60-day disabled list (April 11) – recovery from May 2016 left shoulder surgery
Brandon Workman (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 2) – recovery from June 2015 Tommy John surgery
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians have a 1,035-974 record in 2,017 contests against the Red Sox in their 116th season of head-to-head action. When playing in Boston, the Red Sox as would be expected hold a 528-478 advantage.
The two clubs split their three-game series to open the season, as weather postponed two different games. The teams will meet again in Cleveland on a mutual off day on August 15 to make up the cancelled game.
Two different Boston batters are in the midst of double digit hitting streaks.
Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. leads the way with a season-high 24-game hitting streak. He has hit safely in all 17 games in May, going .422 at the plate with four doubles, six home runs, and 19 RBI, with plenty of time left in the month. Over the course of his entire hitting streak, he is hitting .407 with a .460 on-base percentage, seven doubles, three triples, seven home runs, and 28 RBI.
Budding star shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, has a streak just over half as long, but hardly much less impressive. The 23-year-old has 23 hits over his last 13 games, including eight games of two hits or more. He is hitting .397 during his streak with four doubles, three homers, and nine RBI and is hitting .339 for the season.
YOU SURE YOU WANT TO RETIRE?
David Ortiz has continued to be impressive during his farewell tour. He started the season 3-for-9 against Cleveland with a double, two homers, and three RBI in the weather-shortened two-game series.
He has played 37 games this season, hitting .312 with a .391 OBP with 16 doubles, a triple, ten home runs, and 34 RBI.
THREE INDUCTED TO RED SOX HALL OF FAME
The Boston Red Sox inducted three new members to its Hall of Fame on Thursday, as former team president and CEO Larry Lucchino, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, and catcher Jason Varitek became members of the club.
DODGING A BULLET
While David Price has had a curious year on the mound, the Indians will likely consider this series a lucky one as they avoid the former Cy Young Award-winning left-hander. He has made nine starts on the season, posting an impressive 6-1 record, but has done so with an abnormally high 5.53 ERA and .260 batting average against in 55 1/3 innings.
Price is 10-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 14 career starts against Cleveland with one complete game shutout. He has a 1.16 WHIP against the Tribe and has averaged 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He spoiled the Indians’ second attempt at an Opening Day, allowing two runs on five hits with ten strikeouts and two walks in six innings on the mound against Kluber.
Boston pitchers have struck out an American League high 366 batters this season. Their starters are tops in the league with 224, while their bullpen is a close third with 142 this season.
BATS ARE ALIVE
With their destruction of the Cincinnati pitching staff during the week, the Indians offense has now scored the second-most runs in the AL (trailing only the Red Sox, who have played three more games). They are now third in RBI and fourth in doubles, batting average, and on-base percentage.
FEAR THE CLEVELAND STARTERS
Indians starting pitchers entered the series finale against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday with the best WHIP (1.17) in the league and the second-best batting average against (.235). They have walked the second-fewest batters in the AL.
LINDOR LOCKED IN AT THE PLATE
Shortstop Francisco Lindor continues to impress in the field, but maybe even more impressive has been his continued contributions to the Indians lineup.
During the week against the Reds, he hit safely in all four games and was 11-for-21 (.524) at the plate with three doubles, a homer, five runs batted in, five runs scored, and a stolen base. All four games against Cincinnati were multi-hit games, as is the case for six of his last seven games played.
Lindor is hitting .362 for the month of May and .329 on the season.
RAJAI IS RED HOT
Indians outfielder Rajai Davis burst out of an 0-for-19 slump at the plate with authority, putting up a 9-for-16 series against the Reds during the week. In that span, he hit three doubles, a pair of homers, drove in nine runs, scored himself ten times, drew six walks, and picked off two more bases.
He took the finale off last Sunday against the Twins with his batting average at .210. He concluded his utter dominance of the Reds with his average back to .259 for the season. He has now stolen ten bases in 13 attempts and is providing a punch to the lineup, whether hitting in the leadoff spot or the nine spot.
With their lone trip to Boston completed, the Indians will move along to Chicago, where they will play four games in three days against the AL Central-leading White Sox. After a day off on Thursday, they will then return home for their longest homestand of the season to date, a ten-game set against Baltimore, Texas, and Kansas City.
Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images