Potential Playoff Preview at Progressive Field as Indians Host Red Sox
Bob Toth | On 15, Aug 2016
Monday’s makeup game at Progressive Field could have a little extra meaning to it as the team with the best record in the American League, the Cleveland Indians, host the current second Wild Card team, the Boston Red Sox.
The Indians (67-48) put on an impressive display in their systematic dismantling of the reeling Los Angeles Angels over the weekend. The Halos’ losing streak hit ten games as the Tribe rattled off two games with monstrous scoring outbursts and found several different ways to defeat the club from Anaheim. They used extra base hits in the opener, tied a club record for stolen bases in manufacturing 13 runs on Friday, and held on for closer wins the rest of the weekend while the two teams dodged nearly five hours of rain delays. Cleveland will bring a five-game lead in the AL Central into the series.
The Red Sox (64-52) have won three straight, sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend. They have not seen the Indians since the third weekend of May, when Cleveland came to town 21-17 and had yet to sniff first place. The Sox were 25-16 at the time and a half-game out in the AL East and would be tied for the top spot by the end of that weekend.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Pomeranz, the Indians’ first round pick (fifth overall) in the 2010 draft, will make his sixth Major League appearance against his former club and his first career start. He appeared in two games at Progressive Field last season with the Oakland A’s, walking two and striking out two in two-thirds of an inning of work. Since joining the Red Sox in a trade on July 14, he is 0-2 in five starts with a 5.26 ERA and 1.60 WHIP.
Tomlin owns a 2-2 career record in six outings (five starts) against Boston with a 5.94 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. He has fared better over his last couple of appearances, including his second career win against them last season when he allowed two runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He will go in search of his 12th win of the season, something that he has not been able to do in his last two starts after giving up seven earned runs in each while failing to finish the fifth inning.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; NESN (Boston); MLB Network (out-of-market only)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WEEI 93.7 (Boston)
Michael Brantley (LF) – out for season (May 10) – right shoulder inflammation, right biceps tendinitis; will undergo surgery
Joe Colon (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 22) – right shoulder inflammation; on rehab assignment
Yan Gomes (C) – 15-day disabled list (July 17) – separated right shoulder
Tommy Hunter (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 16) – non-displaced lower back fracture; on rehab assignment
Danny Salazar (SP) – 15-day disabled list (August 2) – right elbow discomfort
Roenis Elias (P) – optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket (August 15)
Ryan Hanigan (C) – 15-day disabled list (August 5) – left ankle tendinitis
Heath Hembree (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket (August 15)
Marco Hernandez (IF) – recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket (August 15)
Deven Marrero (IF) – recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket (August 15)
Hanley Ramirez (1B) – bereavement list (August 15)
Josh Rutledge (2B) – 60-day disabled list (June 15) – left knee patellar tendinitis
Pablo Sandoval (3B) – out for season(April 11) – recovery from May 2016 left shoulder surgery
Carson Smith (RP) – out for season (May 15) – recovery from May 2016 Tommy John surgery
Blake Swihart (C/OF) – 60-day disabled list (June 5) – left ankle sprain, expected to have surgery
Koji Uehara (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 20) – right pectoral strain
Brandon Workman (RP) – 60-day disabled list (April 2) – recovery from June 2015 Tommy John surgery
Steven Wright (SP) – 15-day disabled list (August 8) – right shoulder strain
Chris Young (OF) – 15-day disabled list (June 24) – strained right hamstring
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
LAST TIME OUT
The Indians and Red Sox have met twice this season, as the two clubs split the first series in Cleveland with the weather claiming the third. They met at Fenway Park in the third week of May for three games, with the Indians winning the opener before dropping a pair.
BETTS’ BIG YEAR
Outfielder Mookie Betts has thoroughly expanded on his breakout season of a year ago to say the least, as through 113 games this season he has hit 26 homers, 34 doubles, and driven in 84 RBI while hitting .313. He is the team’s leader in hits, tied for first in homers and batting average, and is second in doubles and RBI. He was rewarded at the end of the first half with a trip to San Diego to participate in the All-Star Game.
In Sunday’s 16-2 victory over Arizona, he went 4-for-6 with three homers, four runs scored, and eight runs batted in. With his second three-homer game of the season, the 23-year-old joined a pair of former Indians players, Juan Gonzalez and Boog Powell, as just the third player in baseball history to have two three-homer games before reaching the age of 24 (h/t: Elias Sports Bureau). He is just the second player in Boston history to have multiple three-homer games within the same season, joining the immortal Ted Williams (1957) (h/t: ESPN Stats & Information).
Betts has played himself into a potential MVP candidate this season and his .313 average for the season is tied with teammate Xander Bogaerts for fourth in the AL batting title race. Jose Altuve and his .362 mark may be much too far ahead to track down in that race, however.
BANGED UP BOSOX PLAYING THROUGH THE PAIN
First baseman Ramirez has been dealing with a sore back for the last few days after a collision at first on Thursday. He also was kneed in the thigh on the play with New York Yankees rookie catcher Gary Sanchez. He will miss Monday’s game after being placed on the bereavement list prior to the game.
David Ortiz had to leave Wednesday’s game in the late innings after fouling a ball off of his shin. Betts has been playing through pain in his knee and calf.
PEDROIA’S FIVE-HIT GAME LOST IN BETTS’ PERFORMANCE
As the Red Sox rolled the D’Backs for 16 runs on Sunday and Betts clobbered three home runs, the five-hit game of second baseman Dustin Pedroia was lost in the shuffle.
It was the fifth time in Pedroia’s eleven-year career that he has amassed five hits in a contest, the most times that feat has been accomplished in the lengthy history of the Red Sox organization.
Pedroia is hitting .307 with a .374 on-base percentage this season with 12 homers and 53 RBI. He has hit safely in six straight games.
The 40-year-old Ortiz has maintained that he will retire at the end of the season and appears that he will do so still capable of being a lethal every day DH in the Majors.
Following Boston’s big win on Sunday, Ortiz is hitting .310 with a .404 OBP. He is tied for the team lead with 26 homers and leads the club with 37 doubles and 90 runs batted in. It certainly looks like he will walk away from baseball still on the top of his game.
INDIANS PUT ON AN OFFENSIVE CLINIC AGAINST LA
The Indians have quietly been one of the top scoring teams in the American League, trailing Boston for most of the year. What they did over the weekend to the Los Angeles pitching staff, however, bordered on criminal.
In the four-game series, the Indians scored 37 runs and allowed just 12. They hit a combined 56-for-144 (.389) at the plate in the series with 21 extra base hits.
If the sheer power displayed was not enough, the team was also 12-for-14 stealing bases against the Angels’ pitching batteries.
NAPOLI FACES ANOTHER FORMER EMPLOYER
Indians first baseman and occasional designated hitter Mike Napoli has not performed well against the Red Sox this season, but he will have one last chance to change that on Monday. He enters the game just 1-for-19 (.053) this season against Boston with a solo homer and two runs scored.
Against another one of his former teams in the Angels during the Indians’ last series, Napoli went 9-for-16 (.563) in the four-game set.
THE LITTLE RUN SCORING MACHINE THAT COULD
Ramirez made it 18 straight with another two-hit game on Sunday in the win over the Angels. His 7-for-17 series against LA pushed his season batting average to .314, second-best in the American League at day’s end.
KIPNIS CONSISTENTLY DOING HIS PART
Kipnis reached the 20-homer plateau for the first time in his career with a solo shot in the first inning against Los Angeles on Sunday. It was his third homer in the last ten games and continued to extend his career high in the power department. His previous career best was 17 homers in 2013.
He hit safely in all four games against the Angels, going 7-for-14 (.500) in the series with six runs scored and four runs batted in while pushing his season batting average up six more points to .291. He also hit safely in both games during the week against the Washington Nationals, giving him an active six-game hitting streak and hits in nine of his last ten games. He has reached safely via hit or walk in ten straight contests.
There is no rest for the Indians as their eleven-game homestand continues as the club hosts the Chicago White Sox for three straight games during the week before welcoming in the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays for three more over the weekend. The Red Sox are just getting started on their lengthy eleven-game road trip, which will feature a two-game set in Baltimore before four-gamers in Detroit and Tampa Bay in a stretch of 23 consecutive days with a game.
Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images