The two best teams at home faced each other as the Indians played the Rockies and the home team won all three games. It was the second straight series sweep for the Tribe at home coming directly after being swept by Oakland in Cleveland. The sweep was good enough to get the Indians out of fifth place and back to just 6.5 games behind Detroit in the Central. Since the beginning of May, the Indians are 16-13 and offense has been a big part of it. They have averaged 7.2 runs per game in the 15 wins since May 1st and just 2.1 RPG in the 13 losses.
The Red Sox are not the juggernaut they have been in the past and just lost ten games in a row before a three game sweep by the Rays inspired the Sox to wake up, after which they jumped to a seven game winning streak including a sweep against the same Rays who swept them the week before. With the win streak, Boston has surpassed Tampa Bay in the AL East, but still sit in fourth in their division. The Indians have a lot in common with the Red Sox as both teams are under-performing teams that had high expectations coming into the season. Both teams are coming hot, but the Indians have one advantage. They will have their top pitcher, Corey Kluber, going in the series, but will not have to face Jon Lester, who has owned the Tribe over his career to the tune of a 3.43 ERA with 83 K’s in 78.2 innings.
Game 1: Monday, June 2nd, 7:05 PM EDT (tickets)
John Lackey, RHP, 6-3, 3.27 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 2-4, 5.21 ERA
Lackey has not been anywhere near the pitcher the Red Sox thought they were getting when they initially signed him, but he has been better of late, throwing two straight shut outs (of 7 and 6.1 IP) against the Rays and Braves. In fact, outside of three starts when he gave up six runs in less than six innings, Lackey has allowed two or less in his other eight. He could definitely offer the Indians a tough match, although they will be better off than in the past with Jason Kipnis healthy and Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall and David Murphy playing extremely well.
Like Lackey, Masterson has not given the Indians what they expected of him and like the next Red Sox starter, he is in the midst of the worst season of his career. He was pitching a little better last time out against Chicago, but was pulled after just three innings due to rain. If coincidences mean anything, then Masterson should be great this time out as he has thrown his two scoreless outings in his first start of March and May.
Game 2: Tuesday, June 3rd, 7:05 PM EDT (tickets)
Jake Peavy, RHP, 1-2, 4.50 ERA vs T.J. House, LHP, 0-1, 4.05 ERA
Peavy is no longer the Cy Young award winning pitcher who won 19 games with a 2.54 ERA in 2007 and is well on his way to his worst season on record. He is walking more batters than ever before and striking out less with a career low 1.79 K/BB. His WHIP of 1.46 is also a career worst. The Indians haven’t had a problem beating Peavy in the past (3.93 ERA) and now no one is having a problem beating him.
House has had one amazing game and one poor game in his first two major league starts. In each start, he has gone six innings, but the first time out against Baltimore allowed five runs while against Chicago he allowed just one. He also turned up the strike outs, going from one against the Orioles to eight against the White Sox. This game may provide a more accurate assessment of House as a pitcher as the Red Sox are a solid offense team and House seems to have found himself at the Major League level. He will also have to face quite a few above average right handed hitters including former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia and future super star, Xander Bogaerts.
Game 3: Wednesday, June 4th, 7:05 PM EDT (tickets)
Brandon Workman, RHP, 0-0, 3.24 ERA vs Corey Kluber, RHP, 6-3, 3.04 ERA
Workman will be making his second start of the year after making 20 of his first 23 appearances out of the bullpen. In his three relief appearances to start this season he allowed one run in 6.1 innings and he has continued this success as a starter, giving up five runs in 10.1 innings in his first two. He has never faced the Indians, so he may have an advantage as a new starter both to the league and the team.
Of course, that advantage could disappear as he is opposing one of the greatest pitchers in baseball, at least over the past month. Kluber leads the league with 95 strike outs and was close to setting records for the month of May. He is turning into the Indians ace and if he can continue his success, especially on the national level against Boston, he could be a contender for AL All-Star game starter. Boston manager, John Farrell, will be managing the game for the American Leaguers.
Who’s Hot? - Who’s Not?
While Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley are still red hot, Corey Kluber has been just about the hottest player in baseball. In his last two starts, he has thrown 14.1 innings and struck out 21. He allowed just two earned runs across the games and deservedly won both games. Kluber deserves consideration for both the player of the week for the last week in May and AL pitcher of the month for the entirety.
Scott Atchison gave up just a single run during the month of May until the last game of the month, when he gave up three against the Rockies. In his appearance before that, he didn’t allow any of his own runs to score, but did blow the save in the finale against Chicago when he allowed an inherited runner to score on a single. This is not a case of a bad player continuing his poor play, but of an extremely lucky player seeing his some regression. Atchison should be back to his normal self next time out.
On Deck: The Indians have another much needed off day on Thursday before heading out to Texas for four with the Rangers.