With the hopes for the playoffs eliminated on Wednesday night, the Cleveland Indians look to sweep the Boston Red Sox this weekend for the moral victory of achieving a winning record in an otherwise disappointing end result to the 2015 season overall.
The Indians (78-80) hung around far longer than most would have predicted after they played themselves out of contention in the first month of the season. As some may say, the World Series isn’t won in April, but it can be lost.
In a must-win series against the Minnesota Twins, the Indians lost three of four. A 4-2 loss on Monday was highlighted by a three-run first inning against Corey Kluber. Tuesday’s game was rained out and its makeup game Wednesday afternoon was a 7-1 defeat marred by a four-run fourth against Carlos Carrasco. The Indians recovered in the second game, 10-2, as the offense erupted to make up some for the previous two games, but shortly after the ball game, the club was mathematically eliminated from the Wild Card race. With pride and the chance to mess up Minnesota’s playoff push in hand for Thursday’s series finale, the club threw away any chances in the ninth in a 4-2 loss.
Boston (78-81) enters the series on a hot streak, having won six straight games before Thursday night’s loss to the New York Yankees. They swept the Baltimore Orioles out of the Wild Card race over last weekend and ruined any chance of the Yankees catching the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East by taking the first three in their four game set during the week.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
It will be the first career start for the 6’6” rookie Owens against the Tribe. A first round pick in the 2011 draft, he has made ten starts on the season and has pitched at least five innings in all but one. Tomlin looks to wrap up his strong return to the Majors with a win Friday night to continue to push for the Indians to bring him back as a fifth starter candidate for the 2016 rotation. He is coming off of his worst start of the season after allowing five runs on seven hits in three and two-thirds innings against the Kansas City Royals.
Saturday, 10/3, 7:10 PM ET – TBA vs. RHP Corey Kluber (8-16, 3.62)
The Red Sox had not formally announced a starter for Saturday’s game. Kluber will get won last chance to get back into the win column after a rough season. After leading the AL in wins last season with 18, he is the AL’s leader in losses now with 16, yet has thrown an MLB-best four complete games. Another loss would tie him for the MLB season lead with Atlanta’s Shelby Miller. Kluber is winless in six career games against the Red Sox, including five starts, with a 6.28 ERA.
Porcello is a familiar face for Tribe fans after he spent the first six years of his MLB career with the Detroit Tigers. He has been a let down for the Sox after being acquired in the offseason to supplement the rotation. This will be his 28th start of the year. He is 9-3 in 20 career starts against Cleveland with a 3.40 ERA. Salazar will look to match Carrasco with the club’s win lead at 14 if he is victorious in the universal 3:10 PM start time on Sunday. His 13 wins already are more than double his previous career best and this will be a career-high 30th start to the season for Salazar. If he can strike out eleven Red Sox batters in the contest, he will eclipse the 200-K mark for the season, joining Kluber and Carrasco with the honor.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; NESN
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WEEI 93.7, WCEC 1490 AM
The Indians own a 1,031-973 lead over the Red Sox in 2,012 contests all-time. This mark includes a decisive 553-445 mark when playing in Cleveland.
The last time the two clubs met in August, the Red Sox claimed two of three, taking each of the last two games in the set.
ON THE MEND and ON THE MOVE
Michael Brantley (LF) – shut down for season with shoulder inflammation
Nick Hagadone (RP) – 60-day disabled list – recovery from July 2015 left elbow surgery
T.J. House (SP) – 60-day disabled list – left shoulder inflammation
Clay Buchholz (SP) – 60-day disabled list – right flexor strain
Rusney Castillo (OF) – day-to-day – right upper quad strain
Joe Kelly (SP) – shut down – right shoulder tightness
Hanley Ramirez (LF) – shut down – right shoulder inflammation
Pablo Sandoval (3B) – shut down – pneumonia
Koji Uehara (CL) – 60-day disabled list – right wrist fracture
Anthony Varvaro (RP) – 60-day disabled list – right elbow surgery in May
Christian Vazquez (C) – 60-day disabled list – Tommy John surgery in April
Brandon Workman (RP) – 60-day disabled list – Tommy John surgery in June
Steven Wright (SP) – 15-day disabled list – concussion
BY THE NUMBERS
Francisco Lindor’s torrid second half has continued all the way to the finish line. He is hitting a team-best .355 since the break with a team-leading 98 hits, ten stolen bases, four triples, ten homers, and 42 RBI. He is second on the club in that span with 18 doubles.
Jason Kipnis currently leads the club with 170 hits on the season. Brantley trails him with 164. Lindor, who has played just 96 games this season, is two hits (121) behind Carlos Santana (123), who has played in 151 games on the year.
Brantley’s MLB lead in doubles with 45 can be surpassed with him on the shelf for the final three games. Matt Carpenter of St. Louis is the National League leader with 44. Kipnis has 43 and is followed in the AL by Boston’s Mookie Betts.
Betts has had a solid breakout year for the Beaneaters, hitting .297 in 142 games this season. He has 18 homers and 77 RBI and has showcased his speed with eight triples and 20 stolen bases, the latter two being team highs.
David Ortiz leads the Red Sox with 36 homers and 105 RBI while batting .272. Any chances of the soon-to-be 40-year-old slugger slowing down appear to be non-existent.
Xander Bogaerts is second in the AL in batting with a .322 mark this season. He leads the team with 194 hits and has scored 82 runs.
The series will conclude both club’s regular seasons. They will next see each other in April of 2016, when the Sox return to Progressive Field for the Indians’ Home Opener on April 4th.
Thanks for following along all season long and make sure to come back in the offseason. The coverage does not stop just because the games do.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images