Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox

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Before previewing the Indians-Red Sox series that begins tonight, I feel it’s appropriate to take a moment to acknowledge those who were, or know someone who was affected by the events that occurred yesterday in Boston. It was an absolutely terrible situation that makes absolutely no sense and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Boston. Hopefully the game tonight and the ones over the coming days can serve as a pleasant distraction as they begin to piece together exactly what happened.

Moving on.

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After struggling mightily against both the Rays and Yankees, the Indians look as if they got back on the right track this weekend against the White Sox. It’s a good thing they did, too. Taking two of three from a division rival in impressive fashion did a lot to help calm a fanbase that was quickly entering into early season freakout mode. Now the Tribe will get a chance to see if they can keep the positive mojo going as they take on the Boston Red Sox in a three-game series set to start tonight.

The Red Sox come into tonight’s game as one of the surprise teams in baseball. After last season’s disappointment and the clubhouse implosion that seemed to occur around Bobby Valentine, no one really expected much from them in 2013. Well, everyone except the people in Boston. As we all know, anything other than a World Series victory is a disappointment to Red Sox Nation. That said, they currently find themselves sitting atop the AL East with a record of 8-4.

The biggest reason for the change in fortune for the Red Sox has to come from the overwhelming amount of turnover that occurred during the offseason. This isn’t the same Red Sox team we have seen year in and year out for the past decade. Sure, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and David Ortiz still call Boston home, but now the infusion of youngsters like Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley, Jr. along with free agent signings Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli have completely changed the make-up of this team. Add in the leadership of John Farrell as the new manager and the Red Sox have made a complete 180 from the days of Terry Francona, the idiots, and Manny being Manny.

The real question is whether the Red Sox can keep up this pace over the long haul. Can they realistically win enough games to stay ahead in what might be the toughest division in baseball? This isn’t like years past when the only other legitimate contenders in the AL East were the Yankees. The Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays can all make a case for it being their time to wear the crown as AL East champs. Of course, the Red Sox will undoubtedly have the resources available to make moves at the trading deadline should they remain in contention through the All-Star Break.

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Meanwhile, the Indians were dealt a major blow in their 3-1 loss on Sunday. Michael Bourn suffered a laceration to his right index finger and will be sidelined about a week until his five stitches are removed. The Indians will have their hands full trying to find a comparable replacement. All Bourn had done so far this season was hit .333/.375/.600 with four doubles, a triple and two homers. That’s not going to be easily replaced. On the plus side, at least the injury wasn’t more serious.

To help lessen the offensive blow, the Indians should expect Carlos Santana back in the lineup sometime this week barring any unforeseen complications. He was originally supposed to be back in the lineup on Saturday, but lingering pain made him a late scratch. The Indians will need him if they expect to keep up with a Boston offensive attack that can score in a number of different ways.

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