Having fled from Texas with an 0-3 record, the Red Sox need an opportunity to reset and get things moving in the right direction. Hopefully, Cleveland will provide that.
There are not many teams that entered the season in worse shape than Cleveland. The return of Carlos Santana is a boost, Shin-Soo Choo is the consummate underrated star, and another year means another chance that maybe, just maybe Grady Sizemore (currently still rehabbing) will return to his former glory. But that's about all there is to celebrate in Cleveland, which makes it all the more important that the Red Sox take advantage of the opportunity provided them.
Tue., April 5, 7:05 EDT
Josh Beckett vs. Josh Tomlin
Tomlin had a solid rookie season in 2011, putting up a 4.56 ERA in 12 starts for the Indians. He didn't face a lot of tough competition, but when he did face the Red Sox, performed well enough to hold them to four runs in seven innings en route to a 2-6 loss.
Beckett, on the other hand, is coming off a terrible, injury-filled season. After starting slow in spring, he managed to find his groove somewhat at the very end. The Sox are hoping for big things from their former ace, but with the bar set so low by the first three starters, they'll take five or six solid innings in a heartbeat.
Wed., April 6, 7:05 EDT
Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Mitch Talbot
Despite managing a lower ERA than Tomlin, Talbot's rookie season was rather less impressive than Tomlin's thanks to mediocre strikeout and walk rates. Boston took advantage of his weaknesses the last time they saw him, drawing four walks and scoring five runs (though only two were earned), chasing him after just four innings.
Daisuke Matsuzaka's situation is similar to Josh Beckett's, but with fewer expectations. Realistically, Sox fans should expect more of the same: occasional dominance, consistent inconsistency, and constant frustration. Against the Indians, though, and with some momentum off a strong finish to spring training, he stands a decent chance. Better than Talbot against the Red Sox, at least.
Thu., April 7, 12:05 EDT
Jon Lester vs. Fausto Carmona
Jon Lester had a bad start to the season, but at least it was better than Fausto Carmona's. Allowing 10 earned runs to the Chicago White Sox in just three innings, Carmona was one of the worst opening day starters, and it wasn't really a huge shock. A 3.77 ERA in 2010 wasn't really supported by his peripherals, though he did manage to bring his walks down from the atrocious rates he had showed in 2008 and 2009.
Lester's poor start wasn't shocking for a different reason. His early-season struggles are well-documented, after all. If he can shake the bad mojo from Opening Day, then Lester should fare just fine against the Indians. If not? Sox fans could be in for another stressful ride.
All-together, though, the Red Sox to nobody's great surprise match up rather better with the Indians than they did the Rangers. They'll get to face three righties, none of them particularly impressive, and shouldn't have the same crazy homer problems they found in Arlington. It's as good an opportunity as they could ask for to get right back into things.