Indians and Red Sox Meet Again in a Four-Game Playoff Preview

After an 8-3 road trip and with the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox in town for a key four-game series this week, the Indians should be greeted to a raucous playoff-like atmosphere at Progressive Field in the team’s return to Cleveland.

The Indians (68-54) won four straight series and finished their road trip strong, taking three of four from Tampa Bay, one from Boston in a makeup game, and two of three against both Minnesota and Kansas City. In a notably difficult stretch of the schedule, the Indians have stepped up their game and look to be in top form, despite still being limited by injuries. The offense has been providing in bulk and at clutch moments, the bullpen has been consistent, and the starting rotation has been lights out. During their road trip, they outscored the opposition, 58-26, putting up an average of 5.3 runs per game. The starters combined for a 2.32 ERA in that stretch and the team hit .290 with runners in scoring position.

The Red Sox (71-52) have been on a tear since the start of August, going 13-3 to open up a five-game lead in the AL East over the New York Yankees. Their win total, with more than a week to play in the month, has already match their number of victories in a disappointing 13-14 July. They opened the month riding an eight-game winning streak, which included two victories over Cleveland. After the Indians claimed the makeup game last Monday, the Red Sox swept their brief two-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals before taking two of three from the Yankees over the weekend in their second straight weekend against their top divisional rival.

Clevinger - Brian Blanco/Getty Images
Clevinger – Brian Blanco/Getty Images


Monday, 8/21, 7:10 PM ET – LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 3.97 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (6-5, 3.75)

Rodriguez will make his second career start against the Indians in the series opener on Monday and looks to build off of an impressive debut game against them in 2015. He allowed just a run (via solo homer) on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts in eight innings in a victory. The 24-year-old Venezuelan southpaw has pitched better of late, making two quality starts to open August before allowing four runs on eight hits in five and one-third innings against St. Louis his last time out last Wednesday. Since returning from a month and a half stay on the disabled list, he has made seven starts, but has factored in a decision just once (a loss on July 24). He has not won a game since May 26, the last victory in a stretch of four straight winning decisions.

Clevinger will get another shot at the Red Sox this season (and the second start against them in his career) after a making one of his worst big league starts against them on July 31. He allowed five runs on seven hits with four walks in just three-plus innings of work before he was lifted. He has worked twice in relief since and made a much better start on August 12 against Tampa Bay, when he fired seven innings of scoreless four-hit baseball to earn his sixth win of the year. His start last Thursday was skipped due to a rainout the night before, but he worked two and two-thirds innings of relief against Minnesota, taking the loss after allowing two runs in a 4-2 defeat.

Tuesday, 8/22, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Doug Fister (2-6, 5.56) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (12-5, 3.76)

Fister will have the rare opportunity to pitch three times against a non-divisional opponent in one season. He limited the Indians to just two runs on five hits in seven and two-thirds innings his first time out, but they got the better of him last Monday, tagging him for five runs on seven hits with four walks in just four and one-third innings. He owns a 6-5 career record against Cleveland in 18 starts with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.

As was the case with Clevinger, the last time that Carrasco faced the Red Sox resulted in an outing that he would like to forget. He lasted just an inning and two-thirds in a 12-10 slugfest, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks in his shortest outing of the season. He has been much better of late, winning each of his last two starts while allowing just one run over his last 13 innings of work. In that span, he has given up just seven hits and three walks while striking out 19. He is 1-1 in his career against Boston with a 6.43 ERA in six appearances (four starts), but he has not defeated the Red Sox since 2014.

Wednesday, 8/23, 7:10 PM ET – TBA vs. RHP Corey Kluber (12-3, 2.67)

The Red Sox have not formally announced a starter for Wednesday night’s contest at the time of this story.

Kluber will make his scheduled start on time after exiting after just five and one-third innings in Kansas City over the weekend with a sprained ankle. He has enjoyed pitching in August in his career and this year has been no exception as he is 4-0 in four starts with two complete games, a 1.78 ERA, a 0.66 WHIP, and a .155 batting average against. In that span of 30 1/3 innings, he has struck out 35. Since his return from the disabled list, he is 9-1 in 15 starts with 155 strikeouts in 107 2/3 innings. He is 2-3 against Boston in his career with a 4.78 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.

Thursday, 8/24, 7:10 PM ET – LHP Chris Sale (14-5, 2.62) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.50)

Sale’s last start against the Tribe was an unpleasant one for the dominating southpaw, as he was lit up for seven runs on eight hits, including a pair of homers, in just five innings of work in a no-decision. He bounced back from that outing with a pair of quality starts, but took the loss in New York on Saturday after allowing four runs to the Yankees in seven innings. Despite earning his fifth defeat of the season, he remains one of the top pitchers in baseball and a significant challenger for the AL’s Cy Young Award at season’s end. The series finale will mark the 29th appearance of Sale’s career against Cleveland and his 18th start – he is 5-7 with a 4.44 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP against them.

Bauer has put up some of his best career numbers in the month of August and this month, he has been strong for the Tribe. In five appearances (four starts), he has posted a 3-0 record with just five runs allowed in 27 2/3 innings (1.63 ERA). He is riding a five-game winning streak and has not lost since July 16 in Oakland in his first start of the second half. Pitching at Progressive Field this season has gone extremely well for Bauer, as he is 7-3 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in 13 starts in front of the hometown crowd. He earned his first career win against the Red Sox last Monday, allowing three runs in six and two-thirds quality innings.


TV (all) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; NESN; MLB Network (out-of market, 8/21)
Radio (all) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WEEI 93.7, WCEC 1490 AM/103.7 FM (Boston)


Abraham Almonte – 10-day disabled list (8/18) – left hamstring strain
Cody Anderson
 (SP) – out for season – right elbow surgery
Michael Brantley (LF) – 10-day disabled list (8/9) – right ankle sprain
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (7/9) – right calf strain; on rehab assignment
Boone Logan (RP) – 60-day disabled list (7/20) – left lat muscle
Josh Tomlin (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/31) – left hamstring

Blaine Boyer (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/6) – neck strain
Marco Hernandez (2B) – out for season (5/4) – recovery from May 2017 left shoulder surgery
Dustin Pedroia (2B) – 10-day disabled list (8/9) – left knee inflammation
David Price (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/25) – left elbow inflammation
Robbie Ross (RP) – 60-day disabled list (5/19) – left elbow inflammation
Josh Rutledge (3B) – 60-day disabled list (7/3) – concussion
Carson Smith (RP) – 60-day disabled list (4/1) – recovery from May 2016 Tommy John surgery; on rehab assignment
Ben Taylor (RP) – 10-day disabled list (7/23) – left intercostal strain; on rehab assignment
Tyler Thornburg (RP) – out for season (4/1) – recovery from June 2017 rib surgery
Steven Wright (SP) – out for season (4/30) – recovery from May 2017 left knee surgery


Team Record Win % GB Streak
 Cleveland  68-54  .557  –  L1
 Minnesota  63-59  .516  5.0  W4
 Kansas City  62-61  .504  6.5  W1
 Detroit  54-69  .439  14.5  W1
 Chicago  47-74  .388  20.5  W1


Nunez & Devers - Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Nunez & Devers – Adam Glanzman/Getty Images


Rookie Rafael Devers and catcher Christian Vazquez are both 2-for-2 against Clevinger. Each has singled and doubled. Devers has hit a pair of solo homers against Bauer in three plate appearances. He has put on quite a debut show for Major League Baseball, hitting .350 through his first 21 games with four doubles, eight homers, and 16 RBI.

Mookie Betts is 2-for-3 off of Clevinger with three runs batted in. He leads the Red Sox in batting against Kluber with a .417 career mark with a double and a homer in 14 trips. He leads the Sox in homers (18), hits (130), and RBI (76) this season.

Brock Holt has four hits in five trips against Carrasco, including a double, a homer, and three runs batted in. He has six singles in 19 plate appearances against Kluber and has driven in three runs.

Mitch Moreland has hit .455 (5-for-11) off of Carrasco with a double, three homers, and a team-leading nine RBI against him. He has just a double in nine plate appearances against Bauer.

Hanley Ramirez is a .571 hitter against Bauer with a pair of doubles and three RBI. He is tied with Betts for the Red Sox’s home run lead with 18.

Jackie Bradley has struck out in four of his five plate appearances against Carrasco in his career. He has just three hits in 20 plate appearances against Kluber, but two have left the yard and have contributed to his four career RBI against him.

Eduardo Nunez is 0-for-7 against Kluber in his career with four strikeouts. He has hit .308 off of Bauer. Since coming over to Boston in a trade with the San Francisco Giants prior to the trade deadline, he has hit .345 with six doubles, four homers, and 13 RBI.

Andrew Benintendi’s two career hits off of Bauer have been solo homers. He is third on the club in homers with 17 on the year and is second in RBI with 68, all while hitting .277.


The Indians have had a limited look at Rodriguez in his three-year career. Former members of the AL East, Edwin Encarnacion and Brandon Guyer, have the longest look on the club and both have taken him deep while hitting over .300 off of him. Encarnacion has hit .375 (6-for-16) off of Sale with two homers and four RBI. Guyer is a .300 hitter with a homer and two RBI against him. Encarnacion’s seven homers already in August matches his season high for a month (June).

Carlos Santana has struggled throughout his career against Fister, hitting .179 (7-for-39) with ten strikeouts in 45 total plate appearances. He leads the Tribe with eleven RBI against Sale in his career. He has hit .302 with two doubles and a homer while drawing five walks in his 48 career plate appearances against him. He is hitting .289 in the second half of the season with six doubles, eight homers, and 17 RBI. He has also walked 22 times in 34 games.

Francisco Lindor is 9-for-19 (.474) against Sale with a double, a homer, and two RBI. He has hit .297 in the second half with nine doubles, six homers, and 15 RBI. The long ball production has pushed his season total to 20.

Jose Ramirez has four hits in seven at bats (.571) against Fister in his career. He is 7-for-17 against Sale (.412) with four walks for a .500 on-base percentage. Ramirez leads Indians regulars with a .304 batting average on the season. His 140 hits and 39 doubles are also tops on the club.

Jason Kipnis has hit .400 (12-for-30) off of Fister with a pair of doubles and two runs batted in. He has hit safely in six of the last seven games and has recorded an extra base hit in five of those contests.

Austin Jackson is just 2-for-35 (.057) against Sale with a double and two RBI while striking out in 16 of his 37 plate appearances overall. He has been on a tear in the second half, hitting .352 since the All-Star break with three doubles, two triples, two homers, and eleven RBI. He is hitting .324 for the year in 57 games.

Jay Bruce has thrived in his eleven games with the Tribe. He has hit in ten straight games while hitting .375 for Cleveland with five doubles, three homers, and 12 RBI.


The Indians will get to stay put this coming weekend as the Royals come to town for a three-game set at Progressive Field. The Red Sox will be on the move, heading home for three over the weekend with Baltimore before returning to the road for a seven-game trip through Toronto and New York.

Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

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