The Red Sox will head to Cleveland to take on an Indians team in a full-on tailspin in a four-game set starting Thursday night.
As frustrating as the Sox have been this year and last, they haven't experienced anything like the losing streak the Indians just went through. At least not in recent memory. An 0-11 run against the Twins, Royals, Tigers, and Twins again with a composite score of 95-36 has left them has taken them from just 3.5 back in the AL Central to 9.5 back and seemingly bereft of any playoff hopes.
As bad as that streak was, however, it's come to an end now. A 6-2 win over the Twins has put the Indians back in the win column at long last , and that sort of relief can do a lot of good for a team that's been in a bad way like they've been. With the Sox doing their typical back-and-forth shtick, and currently back on a losing streak, a team that would typically look like easy pickings might be anything but.
Boston Red Sox (55-57) vs. Cleveland Indians (51-60)
Thursday, August 9, 7:05 p.m. EST
NESN/MLB Network, WEEI
Felix Doubront (10-5, 4.56 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (8-11, 5.29 ERA)
Felix Doubront continues what seems to be an exhausted slide into mediocrity, but so long as he needs to go out their every five or six days, it's not likely to change. Given a 5-1 lead in his last outing, Doubront continued to struggle with control, faltered late, and ended up with five runs in five innings as part of a depressing 6-5 loss to the Twins. The good news is that the Indians don't hit lefties nearly so well as the Twins, and he won't have to deal with the Monster behind him, even if Progressive isn't terribly deep to left.
There are few more dissapointing blockbuster acquisitions in the American League than Ubaldo Jimenez. A bad start to his Indians career has not been improved by a disastrous 2012 campaign which has seen Jimenez walk and wild pitch his way to a 5.29 ERA. The Sox have, from time-to-time, showed the ability to take patient at bats like they had in years past. Hopefully they'll do so again given the opportunity to face a pitcher like Jimenez.
Friday, August 10, 7:05 p.m. EST
Clay Buchholz (9-3, 4.48 ERA) vs. Chris Seddon (0-0, 7.71 ERA)
Clay Buchholz is the brightest part of the Red Sox' pitching staff right now, of that there's no doubt. Even without his best stuff against the Twins, Buchholz was able to put up seven scoreless innings of work. He's allowed just four earned runs in his last four games, comprising some 30 innings. The Indians will hardly be the hardest-hitting team he's faced, either, so hopefully it's a run that can continue a while longer yet.
On the one hand, Chris Seddon's 7.71 ERA is reminscent of Nick Blackburn, who the Sox managed to do some appropriately good work against in their one win over the Twins. On the other hand, he's an unfamiliar soft-tossing lefty fresh from the minors. The Sox are weirdly inconsistent against that sort of pitcher--about as likely to put up eight runs as they are to put up zero--which isn't what you want when you've got your best starter on the mound.
Saturday, August 11, 6:05 p.m. EST
TBD vs. Zach McAllister (4-4, 3.60 ERA)
The Red Sox aren't quite sure what's going to happen with their rotation after this. Both Aaron Cook and Franklin Morales are currently expected to start in this next cycle through, but it's not clear if that's going to change over the coming days. If it does, Morales is likely to be the one given the nod over Cook after his successful return to the rotation against the Twins, but it's just as possible that the Sox will stick with the six-man rotation for a while.
Rookie Zach McAllister has done well for the Indians in his short time with the team, providing them solid outing after solid outing, remarkably consistent right up until his bizarre start against the Twins. Back-to-back homers started the second inning, and while a two-out error prevented his ERA from feeling the full brunt of the eight runs that followed, but it was a shocking meltdown from a pitcher who hadn't allowed more than five runs or four earned runs in a game to that point. The Sox can only hope that whatever caused such a disaster is still at play come Saturday.
Sunday, August 12, 1:05 p.m. EST
TBD vs. Corey Kluber (0-0, 6.10 ERA)
Corey Kluber comes with some of the same caveats as Chris Seddon. The major difference is that he's not a soft-tossing lefty, but a righty with some OK velocity. Typically you'd think this bears well for the Indians, as least compared to Seddon, but again, while the Red Sox are bizarrely inconsistent against all such Triple-A call-ups, it's more exaggerated against the soft-tossing lefties, so hopefully they can figure Kluber out quick enough to do some real damage.