Tribe and Red Sox Face Off for Four at Fenway
Bob Toth | On 20, Aug 2018
For the first time this season, the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox will meet on the diamond, providing the world with a potential playoff preview between the best squads of the AL East and AL Central. The Tribe traveled to Boston to start a four-game series with the Red Sox on Monday night.
The Indians (71-52) took two of three from the hapless Baltimore Orioles, capping the series with an 8-0 shutout in the finale on Sunday. Cleveland rode big efforts from unexpected contributors, using its MLB-high tying ninth grand slam of the year to put the game away for good. It marked the seventh straight series win for the Indians. The Tribe has had its issues against the AL East this season, posting a 2-5 record against the New York Yankees and a 1-2 mark against Toronto Blue Jays. The 3-7 mark against those two clubs has been balanced by a 5-2 stomping of the Orioles, who are the worst team in baseball.
The Red Sox (88-37) will look to defend their home turf against the Tribe. Fenway Park has been more than a friendly confine for the Red Sox, who have put up the best record in all of baseball at home at 44-16. Taking a series in Boston will be a difficult feat, as no team has claimed an outright series win over the Red Sox in Massachusetts since the Chicago White Sox earned two wins in three chances from June 8-10. The Yankees earned the last series win over the Red Sox, taking two of three in New York from June 29-July 1. The Red Sox started their current seven-game homestand with two wins over the Tampa Bay Rays before losing a 2-0 shutout on Sunday afternoon.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Kluber has won three straight decisions and has started to put up more consistent results on the mound after dealing with a knee issue in June and July. He threw seven quality innings his last time out on August 14, allowing a run on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He is 2-4 in his career against the Red Sox in ten games (nine starts) with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
Porcello struck out a season-high ten batters in a victory in Philadelphia his last time out. He did not walk a batter and allowed just a run on two hits, with a solo home run providing the only damage against him. It marked the second time in three starts and fourth time this season that he left a start with two hits allowed or less. He comes into the matchup with the Indians with a 10-4 mark against Cleveland, with much of that damage coming from his early days in Detroit. He last faced the Tribe in 2016, earning a win.
Bieber will make his first career start against the Red Sox on Tuesday. The 23-year-old will make his 13th start of the year and his first against an AL East opponent. He has taken no-decisions in back-to-back starts and had a short outing his last trip to the mound, when he lasted just four and one-third innings in Cincinnati, allowing three runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts. His previous outing against the Chicago White Sox was much sharper, as he fired six and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball while walking two and striking out eight.
Eovaldi has performed well overall since joining the Red Sox just ahead of the trade deadline in July from the Tampa Bay Rays. He made ten starts for Tampa after starting the year on the 10-day and 60-day disabled lists with loose bodies in his right elbow, but he has put together some impressive performances overall. His last time to the mound in Philadelphia on August 15, he allowed three runs (just one earned) on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts in five innings. He fired a pair of scoreless efforts in his first two games with the Red Sox, but had a tough start on August 10, when he allowed eight runs (four earned) on ten hits in just two and two-thirds innings.
Carrasco, 31, will make his eighth appearance and sixth career start against Boston. He allowed eleven runs on 14 hits in eight and one-third innings last season to Boston. His only career win against the Red Sox came in relief in 2014. Carrasco won his third start in the month his last time out, firing seven scoreless innings of three-hit baseball in a win over the Orioles. He has made six straight quality starts and has posted a 3-1 mark in August with a 0.98 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP with 33 strikeouts and just two walks in 27 2/3 innings of work. Since returning from the DL at the beginning of July, Carrasco is 7-1 with a 1.73 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP in nine games.
The 27-year-old left-hander Johnson had spent much of the year in the bullpen before moving into a more consistent role in the starting rotation at the end of June. The third-year big leaguer and first round pick in the 2012 draft is 4-1 on the year in nine starts with a 3.40 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, but is 0-2 with a 4.94 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP in 22 relief outings this season. It will be his first career appearance against the Indians.
Plutko, like the rookie Bieber, will make his first career appearance against the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon in the early getaway day start. The 26-year-old will make his seventh start of the season and will look to build upon a tough loss his last time out on August 18, when he allowed three first inning runs on a home run before containing Baltimore the rest of the way over seven three-hit innings in his first start since June 30.
Price, the 32-year-old veteran southpaw, has won four straight decisions and has not lost a start since July 1 against the Yankees. The 6’5” 2007 first rounder has made six straight quality starts for the Sox, including his last time out on August 18 when he defeated his former Tampa club, throwing seven innings of two-run baseball with two walks, five hits, and eight strikeouts. He has owned the Indians throughout his big league career, posting a 10-2 mark in 14 starts with one complete game shutout. In that span of 92 1/3 innings, he has earned a 2.24 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP with 100 strikeouts and just five home runs allowed. He last faced the Indians in 2016, striking out ten over six innings for his tenth victory against them.
TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); NESN (all); MLB Network (out-of-market, 8/20 & 8/21)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (CLE); WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM (BOS)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Trevor Bauer (SP) – 10-day disabled list (8/12) – stress fracture of right fibula
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF) – 60-day disabled list (7/3) – strained left calf
Edwin Encarnacion (1B/DH) – 10-day disabled list (8/13) – right hand contusion, left biceps discomfort
Nick Goody (RP) – 60-day disabled list (5/3) – right elbow inflammation
Leonys Martin (OF) – 10-day disabled list (8/9) – bacterial infection
Tyler Naquin (OF) – 10-day disabled list (7/26) – right hip surgery
Tyler Olson (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (8/18)
Adam Plutko (SP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (8/18)
Danny Salazar (P) – out for season (3/26) – recovery from right shoulder exploratory surgery
Josh Tomlin (P) – 10-day disabled list (7/10) – right hamstring strain; on rehab assignment
Bradley Zimmer (OF) – out for season (7/21) – right shoulder labrum surgery
Rafael Devers (3B) – 10-day disabled list (8/16) – left hamstring strain
Marco Hernandez (3B) – 60-day disabled list (3/29) – recovery from July 2018 left shoulder surgery
Austin Maddox (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/29) – right shoulder strain; on rehab assignment
Dustin Pedroia (2B) – 60-day disabled list (5/30) – left knee inflammation
Eduardo Rodriguez (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/15) – right ankle sprain
Chris Sale (SP) – 10-day disabled list (8/15) – mild left shoulder inflammation
Carson Smith (RP) – 60-day disabled list (5/15) – recovery from June 2018 right shoulder surgery
Christian Vazquez (C) – 10-day disabled list (7/8) – recovery from July 2018 right pinkie finger surgery
Brandon Workman (P) – recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket (8/18)
Steven Wright (SP) – 10-day disabled list (6/23) – left knee inflammation
RED SOX NEWS AND NOTES
Martinez is keeping just ahead of the Indians’ Jose Ramirez in the home run race, with 38 on the season to go with his league-leading 106 RBI. He has done it all while supplying a .331 batting average, which would put him on pace to win the Triple Crown, if not for the production of Betts, who has contributed his own .343/.430/.652 slash at the plate with 27 homers and 64 RBI. Betts in tied for the team lead with 36 doubles (joined by shortstop Xander Bogaerts).
Martinez has hit .344 since the break with a .434 on-base percentage, ten doubles, nine homers, and 26 RBI. His RBI production since his trip to Washington, D.C. is ten more than the next closest teammate, Jackie Bradley Jr. Martinez’s nine home runs and ten doubles in that span are both third-most in the AL.
Betts leads the league in doubles since the All-Star break with eleven. His six stolen bases are tied for fifth in the AL in that time, one in back of Ramirez for fourth.
Mitch Moreland was an All-Star for the first time this season with the Red Sox. He has put together a .256/.322/.467 slash with 20 doubles, 14 homers, and 63 RBI this year.
TRIBE BY THE NUMBERS
Greg Allen has taken full advantage of his opportunities in the second half with the loss of Martin to his bacterial infection. Filling the void in center, Allen has hit in 12 straight games, a career high, putting up a .386 average at the plate with 17 hits (all singles), ten runs scored, five stolen bases in six chances, and three runs batted in in those dozen offensive games, including ten since his recall earlier this month. His season batting average has climbed from .204 to .249 during that hot stretch at the plate.
Yandy Diaz has put his talents on display in his recall for the injured Encarnacion. He has slashed .419/.455/.548 on the season in ten games with two doubles, one triple, and seven RBI. In his six games since being recalled on August 12, he has put together a .353/.421/.471 line with four singles, two walks, two doubles, and five RBI. Unfortunately, it still might not be enough for the corner infielder and DH, who could be optioned back to Columbus for a week when Encarnacion returns to the roster, which could be sometime later this week.
As for Ramirez, the 25-year-old has certainly made his case a strong one for a MVP award at season’s end. He enters the four-game set in Boston slashing .300/.412/.632 on the year and is just one in back of Martinez for the Major League lead in homers with his 37 on the season (eight more than his total for all of last season). His 91 RBI on the season are eight more than his previous career best and his 27 stolen bases lead the American League and make him not only a 30/30 candidate, but also gives him an outside shot at the rare 40/40 club with more than a month remaining in the regular season schedule.
Ramirez has done the bulk of his damage from the left side of the plate, putting up a .305/.437/.686 line with 19 doubles, three triples, 32 homers, and 74 RBI against right-handed pitchers, while hitting .289/.341/.500 with 12 doubles, five homers, and 17 RBI in 260 fewer plate appearances against southpaws.
Former Indians manager Doc Edwards passed away on Monday at the age of 81. A “baseball lifer”, he started his pro playing career with the Indians when he signed with the club in 1958. He later managed in Cleveland for parts of three seasons from 1987 to 1989.
BRING ON THE BBQ
The Indians will pack their bags on Thursday and set their targets on Kansas City, Missouri, where the Royals will host Cleveland in three straight over the weekend before the Tribe heads back home.
The Red Sox will hit the road after the series for Tampa Bay, where they will play three games before returning home to host the Miami Marlins for a pair of game in the middle of next week.
Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images