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Series preview: Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox

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The Indians were living a dream the last few days, time to have some water thrown in their face and see how they respond.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians' last series against the Cincinnati Reds was a blast to watch, and I am sure equally fun to play in. While we probably cannot learn much from a series like that against an awful team, it's four games they should have won; something they have failed to do a lot this season. The Boston Red Sox are going to be the complete opposite.

The last time these two teams played was the season opener, in which the rain delayed the first game and resulted in one being postponed altogether. The Indians split that series, losing their home opener, 2-6, but taking the next game, 7-6.

Cleveland is largely still the same team they were in that first series, although Collin Cowgill will no longer be coming off the bench and whiffing three straight times.

Matchups

  • Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Corey Kluber (RHP) vs. Clay Buchholz (RHP)
  • Saturday, 4:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) vs. TBD
  • Sunday, 1:35 p.m. ET: Danny Salazar (RHP) vs. Rick Porcello (RHP)

This is about as ideal of a pitching matchup as the Indians could hope for. They avoid the only real threatening pitchers -- David Price and Steven Wright -- and they get a chance to beat up on Clay Buchholz and his 6.11 ERA for nine innings.

Upcoming schedule: The Indians will leave from Boston Sunday to play a late doubleheader in Chicago on Monday against the Chicago White Sox. Following that, they return home to host the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers.

Team in a Box

Boston Red Sox

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

Record

25-16

R/G

5.85

1st

ERA

4.22

9th

AL East

2nd

OBP

.357

1st

HR/9

0.81

3rd

Last 10

7-3

SLG

.484

1st

BB/9

3.65

14th

Streak

W1

Steals

31

2nd

SO/9

8.98

2nd

The Red Sox offense is the best in the American League and it is not even close. Even the offensive outburst from the Indians in the last series could not help them catch up to the run-scoring juggernaut that is the Boston Red Sox. As a team, they lead the AL with a 127 wRC+, a full 15 points higher than the second-best Baltimore Orioles. They are middle-of-the-road when it comes to taking walks (8.2%, 9th in AL), but they have only struck out in 19.2 percent of their team at-bats.

Coming into the season, everyone in Boston knew that the pitching staff was a weakness. The front office attempted to slap a band-aid over it with David Price, but so far he has been unable to keep opponents from scoring (even if he has having a solid year so far, according to FIP). The rest of the staff outside of Steven Wright is an unmitigated disaster, but they are able to stay in games thanks to their second-best 8.98 strikeouts per nine innings.

Red Sox positions players

  • C: Christian Vazquez
  • 1B: Hanley Ramirez
  • 2B: Dustin Pedroia
  • SS: Xander Bogaerts
  • 3B: Travis Shaw
  • LF: Brock Holt
  • CF: Jackie Bradley Jr.
  • RF: Mookie Betts
  • DH: David Ortiz

Red Sox bench

  • OF: Chris Young
  • IF: Josh Rutledge
  • C: Ryan Hanigan

Offensively, the Red Sox are led by the David Ortiz show as he makes his final run through baseball. He's slashing .312/.391/.652 with a team-high 10 home runs and 34 runs batted in (CLUTCH!!1!1!). Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not far behind him, slashing .338/.390/.607 for a wRC+ of 168 in what looks to be his breakout season.

Factoring in defense, the most valuable player on the Sox so far this season has been Xander Bogaerts. Much like the Indians' own young star shortstop, Bogaerts is hitting extremely well while fielding his position like a 12-year veteran.

Red Sox starting rotation

  • LHP: David Price
  • RHP: Clay Buchholz
  • RHP: Rick Porcello
  • RHP: Steven Wright

Red sox bullpen

  • RHP: Heath Hembree
  • RHP: Matt Barnes
  • LHP: Tommy Layne
  • LHP: Robbie Ross Jr.
  • RHP: Carson Smith
  • RHP: Junichi Tazawa
  • RHP: Koji Uehara
  • RHP: Craig Kimbrel

The Red Sox bullpen features a duo of lefty relievers with sub-3.00 ERAs on the season, and you can bet the Indians will be seeing plenty of them in this series. David Price and Steven Wright are the cream of the Red Sox rotation crop, but like I mentioned earlier, the Indians will thankfully avoid both of them.

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