CLEVELAND - APRIL 05: Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox watches the action during the game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 5, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Red Sox 3-1. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
The Red Sox will take on the Indians after a nine game run which saw them take just two wins from the Athletics, Orioles, and Royals.
The Red Sox went to Kansas City for three games and come back with one win in what is becoming an increasingly disappointing season of baseball.
This time last year the Sox had already started to turn things around, putting together series of wins and losses, but with the former growing increasingly long and the latter shrinking down to nearly nothing. After a loss in game 32, the Sox would go 16-4 to completely revive their season.
There are no signs that this is in store for the 2012 Red Sox. After a nine game stretch against the Athletics, Orioles, and Royals resulted in just two wins, they've matched their season-low record wise at 12-18. Not only that, but the talent level seems to be dropping. Daniel Nava is back with the team and scheduled to start in left field. He will be batting sixth! It boggles the mind.
Still, any winning streak, however long, must inevitably start with just the one win. Perhaps in their four game set they can find the one win which sets them off.
Boston Red Sox (12-18) vs. Cleveland Indians (17-13)
Thursday, May 10, 7:10 p.m. EST
Josh Beckett (2-3, 4.45) vs. Derek Lowe (4-1, 2.39)
While Josh Beckett's round of golf has taken center stage in Boston (never mind that the team specifically shut him down regardless of how he felt during the week), he has been the one pitcher Boston has been able to rely on to provide them with quality starts of late. It was a game against the Indians that got this year-long run of form started, and hopefully it will not be one that finishes it. The good news is that Beckett has not been one to struggle with long layoffs, pitching very well on more than five days of rest.
Derek Lowe will be making his return to Fenway in the midst of a deceptively good start to the season. His 2.39 ERA hides a 10:12 K:BB ratio, though it's perhaps not as unsustainable as it might initially seem given the massive rate he's inducing ground balls at--typical of Lowe, of course--but it's still not the way you really want to be going about things if you're intending to stay at an elite level.
Friday, May 11, 7:10 p.m. EST
Clay Buchholz (3-1, 9.09) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (3-2, 4.04)
I keep saying that this is likely Clay Buchholz' last chance, but somehow he keeps sticking around despite bad outing after bad outing. At this point, given the loss of Aaron Cook, he may well just have until Daisuke's ready to come back to find his rhythm on the mound.
Ubaldo Jimenez just has not been the same since leaving the Rockies, and while his ERA may at least seem improved over his second half from 2011, his peripherals are much worse, sitting in Lowe territory but without the ground balls to save him. Right now he's just not a very good pitcher.
Saturday, May 12, 7:10 p.m. EST
Felix Doubront (2-1, 5.01 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (1-2, 4.67 ERA)
Felix Doubront and his back-end rotation partner Daniel Bard have been victims of some weird outings of late where their results have been hurt by slow hooks, bad fielding, or weird luck. Still, for those actually watching him on the mound, Doubront has largely looked impressive on the mound. The Sox should not be considering him part of their problems even with his inflated ERA.
Josh Tomlin, unlike the first two Cleveland pitchers, has not been so lucky between his high strikeout rate and typical low walk rate. Typically Tomlin is the sort of pitcher the Red Sox kill, but he's an unusually impressive example of that breed of starter, and the Sox just got shut down by Bruce Chen, so who's to say?
Sunday, May 13, 1:35 p.m. EST
Daniel Bard (2-4, 4.83 ERA) vs. Justin Masterson (1-2, 4.89)
Daniel Bard is very much like Felix Doubront in that he's been pitching well enough, but just hasn't seen the results on the scoreboard for any number of reasons. It has been concerning, however, that he's not been able to get his slider going for strikeouts of late. That will need to change if he wants to be an effective starter, but there's no reason to expect it won't come back into form.
Justin Masterson unfortunately suddenly looks like the pitcher the Sox traded back in 2009--a solid back-end starter, but nothing special. This seems to coincide with an increased usage and decreased effectiveness of his slider. Hopefully Masterson can figure things out, just not in time for this start.