Our Red Sox blog, Over the Monster, previews the four-game series with the Indians, which begins Monday night. They're not must-win games for Boston ... but they're must-win games for Boston. Spoiler: OTM says the set will revolve around the Sox' pitching.
If there's one thing to watch for this series, it's the Red Sox' pitching. John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Daisuke Matsuzaka are all taking the mound before the Sox leave Fenway, and while there's not much doubt that Lester is and will continue to be the team's ace (his last seven or eight innings aside), how Daisuke and especially Lackey and Beckett do is another story entirely. Lately, Beckett and Lackey have started rounding into shape, with Beckett pitching two strong games off the DL and Lackey having the best month of his season so far. Daisuke, though only signed for another couple of years, has also been on something of a roll since June, and to see all three turn in strong performances should help remind us that we stand to have one of if not the best rotation in the majors for the immediate future.
For their part, the Indians lineup shouldn't put up a great deal of resistance outside of the three and four spots. Populated by a list of rookies, failed prospects, has-beens, and role players, the only real bats the Indians have to fear are Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana. Choo has been exactly what he has been for the last few years: a strong on-base threat with above average power and good defense in right. Not an out-and-out superstar, but a valuable player on any team. The new addition, and really the future of the Indians franchise lies in Carlos Santana, the power hitting rookie catcher who has lived up to expectations so far to the tune of a .265/.404/.476 line. He's slumped since his insane start in June, especially in power, but there's no reason to take Santana lightly.