Indians Welcome Red-Hot Red Sox to Town
Things are finally starting to go right for the Cleveland Indians. After struggling for weeks on end in nearly every facet of the game, things appear to be coming together after a three game series sweep of the Colorado Rockies. Following this weekend’s tilt, the Tribe -now finds themselves at 27-30 and fourth place in the AL Central. Granted, that’s still a long way from the top, but with the recent struggles of the Tigers, they are within six games of first.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, rather than continue to build on their recent success by taking on one the weaker teams in baseball, the Indians get to welcome the second hottest team in all of baseball to the friendly confines of Progressive Field.
The Boston Red Sox come to Cleveland winners of their last seven games. This comes as quite the contrast from their previous ten games, all of which were losses and had their season teetering on the edge of disaster. Whether it was simply a World Series hangover or something more, the Red Sox appear to have their past issues behind them, at least for this week.
That’s not to say they have it all figured out. In actuality, the Red Sox are far from having things figured out. For starters, their starting rotation has been rather abysmal. Staff ace Jon Lester had struggled mightily prior to Sunday’s seven inning, 12 strikeout domination of the Tampa Bay Rays. Clay Buchholz has found himself on the 15 day DL with a bum knee. Felix Doubront has been a disaster. Only Jake Peavy and John Lackey have demonstrated any type of consistency and they have compiled ERAs of 4.50 and 3.27 respectively.
Offensively, the Red Sox have all the potential in the world to put up huge numbers. The problem has been maintaining their regular everyday lineup. Injuries have thrown a real monkey wrench in their World Series repeat plans. David Ortiz is still mashing. He leads the Red Sox with 12 homers and 31 RBI. Top prospect Xander Bogaerts leads them in batting at .296, but it was only recently that his bat has shown the kind of life the Red Sox long believed it had.
Meanwhile, Mike Carp, Mike Napoli,Will Middlebrooks, and Shane Victorino have landed on the 15 day DL with an assortment of different bumps and bruises. To make matters worse, the heart and soul of their team, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, has struggled mightily with a bruised hand. Even before the injury to his hand, Pedroia wasn’t exactly living up to his normally lofty expectations. Through 54 games played, he has only belted two homers and driven in 17 runs. That’s a far cry from what we are used to seeing out of the scrappy second baseman.
But here’s the thing. There is a huge difference between a struggling Red Sox team and a struggling Indians team. That of course is the fact that as we near the trading deadline, the Red Sox have the resources available to them to make a bold move. They can take on salaries and as we have seen in the past, they won’t be afraid of making the bold move to help save their season. That is not a luxury that is afforded to the Indians due to their economic limitations.
Whether or not that comes to be, though, is anyone’s best guess. There is a lot of baseball to be played between now and then. FOr the Red Sox, that means putting their recent struggles behind them and focusing on doing the things that have led to their most recent seven game winning streak – timely hitting and superb starting pitching.
For the Indians, the formula is even simpler. Start catching the ball and start making some plays. Through two months of play we have seen defensive mishap after defensive mishap cost the Indians games. If they can find a way to limit the mistakes and keep opposing teams from extending innings, then it might be the beginning of the climb out of the depths of the AL Central basement.