MLB Series Picks: Indians vs. Red Sox Predictions
by Darin Zank - 5/9/2012
The Cleveland Indians held the lead in the AL Central last year past the all-star break before fading. This year Cleveland also holds the early lead in the Central.
The Boston Red Sox, meanwhile, have picked up this year the way they finished last year. They are playing pretty poorly right now.
So it's first place vs. last place when the Tribe visits Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox starting Thursday night.
Indians vs. Red Sox: The Set Up
Cleveland has taken two of the first three games of a four-game series at home vs. the White Sox. The Indians swept a doubleheader Monday by scores of 8-6 and 3-2, but they lost Tuesday, 5-3, in extra innings.
So heading into that series finale Wednesday, the Tribe, which started 1-4 this year, is 16-8 over its last 24 games.
On the other side of this matchup Boston has split the first two games of its three-game series in Kansas City, winning 11-5 Monday but losing 6-4 Tuesday on a late Royals homer given up by Sox reliever Matt Albers.
So going into that series finale Wednesday Boston has lost six of its last seven games.
At 17-12 Cleveland leads the AL Central by two games over second-place Detroit.
Boston, at 12-17, trails division-leading Baltimore and Tampa in the AL East by 6.5 games.
So this looks like a matchup of two teams headed in different directions at the moment.
Indians vs. Red Sox Pitching Matchups
Former Boston hurler Derek Lowe (4-1, 2.39) gets the start for Cleveland Thursday against Josh Beckett (2-3, 4.45) for the Sox.
Lowe is off to a solid start for his new team with four quality starts in six outings. And over his last three starts he's allowed just three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings of work.
Cleveland is 4-2 in Lowe's starts, and five of them have stayed 'under' on the totals.
Lowe hasn't pitched against Boston since 2009.
Beckett missed his last start with some tightness in his upper body, but he's expected to be ready for Thursday. He had a rough season opener against Detroit, but since then has allowed just nine ERs in 27 2/3 innings.
Beckett started three times vs. the Indians last year, allowing six ERs and striking out 17 in 17 2/3 innings.
With its heavily left-handed hitting lineup Cleveland is 13-5 vs. right-handed starters this year.
Ubaldo Jimenez (3-2, 4.04) is slated to go for the Indians Friday against Clay Buchholz (3-1, 9.09) for Boston.
Jimenez is three-for-six on quality starts this year. In his last outing, his best of this young season, Jimenez held Texas scoreless on two hits through seven innings. He did, however, walk five guys.
Jimenez last pitched vs. the Red Sox in 2010.
Buchholz is off to a terrible start to this season, allowing at least five ERs in each of his first six starts. Somehow, the Sox have won three of those starts.
In his last outing Sunday vs. Baltimore Buchholz got clipped for five ERs on seven hits, three of which were homers, in less than four innings. And he's walked nine batters over his last 10 1/3 innings.
But in his one start last year vs. the Indians Buchholz held them to two ERs in seven-plus innings.
Josh Tomlin (1-2, 4.67) will take the mound for the Tribe Saturday vs. lefty Felix Doubront (2-1, 5.29) for the Red Sox.
Tomlin began this season with a couple rough starts, but he has improved since. His latest outing was a good one, holding the White Sox to two ERs in 7 1/3 innings and picking up the win.
Tomlin started twice vs. Boston last year. In the first game he allowed one run in seven innings, but in the second game he gave up five runs in six innings.
Doubront had a mediocre start to this season, but over his last two outings he's allowed nine ERs on 13 hits in 10 1/3 innings.
Doubront has never pitched vs. Cleveland.
The Indians are 4-7 vs. left-handed starting pitchers this season.
Finally, it's Justin Masterson's (1-2, 4.89) turn in the rotation Sunday for Cleveland while Boston will counter with Daniel Bard (2-4, 4.83).
Masterson is only three-for-seven in quality starts this year. His latest outing was one of his better ones, holding the White Sox to two ERs in six innings, although Cleveland lost that game.
Masterson has had trouble with his control. Last year he walked 65 in 216 innings. This year he has walked 25 in 42 innings.
Last year Masterson started twice vs. the Red Sox, allowing five ERs in 13 2/3 innings. The Indians won both those games.
Bard has two quality starts this year in five tries. Over his last two games he's allowed nine ERs on 14 hits in 12 1/3 innings. That includes five ERs in seven innings vs. Kansas City Tuesday night.
Bard made four relief appearances vs. Cleveland last year, and gave up five ERs in less than three innings.
Indians vs. Red Sox Betting Trends
Boston is just 4-10 at Fenway Park this season.
Cleveland is 9-3 on the road.
The Red Sox are 19-9 on the 'over/unders' this year, because they rank third in the Majors in scoring but 29th in team ERA.
Bovada is listing Boston at 10/1 and Cleveland at 18/1 to win the American League this season.
Indians vs. Red Sox Head-to-Head
This is the first meeting this year between these teams. Last year Cleveland took the series from Boston six games to four. Six of those games played under on the totals.
Indians vs. Red Sox Injury Report
Boston rookie OF Will Middlebrooks, who got an extra-base hit in each of his first five Major League games, re-tweaked a hamstring Tuesday and is questionable for Wednesday night's game in Kansas City. He joins a Red Sox injury list that's already about 10 guys deep.
Indians vs. Red Sox Preview and Predictions
I'm hard-pressed to give either team any advantage in the pitching matchups for this series. So I'll go this way; Cleveland seems to be the better team at the moment, and they'll probably be the underdog to win this series. So I'll go with the Indians and the underdog series price.
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