Monday features a battle of AL East versus AL West when the Boston Red Sox (62-58) travel to Progressive Field to take on the Cleveland Indians (71-47). This is the first of a three-game set between the two teams as they both battle to make the postseason.
For the Indians, the route to the playoffs is a little more clear as they now sit tied for first in the AL Central with the Minnesota Twins. Between the two teams, one would occupy the AL Central crown while the other holds a 2.5-game lead over the Rays for the first Wild Card.
The @Indians trailed the Twins by 11.5 games on June 3.
Less than 10 weeks later, they’re tied for first in the AL Central. pic.twitter.com/VZZcYWfMfS
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) August 10, 2019
The Red Sox, on the other hand, have some work to do. They currently sit 16 games back in the AL East, so the division title is likely out of the question. If the defending champs want to make the playoffs, it will have to be as a Wild Card, but they sit a whopping 7.5 games back of the second spot going into play Monday.
The pitching matchup for this one features Eduardo Rodriguez (13-5, 4.17 ERA) going for the Red Sox against the Indians’ Zach Plesac (6-3, 3.13 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm ET.
The moneyline for this matchup features the Boston Red Sox at -113 and the Cleveland Indians at +103. The over/under for runs scored sits at 10.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, the Boston Red Sox hold a decisive advantage. They currently rank second in the majors in runs per game, averaging 5.75 (5.67 on the road). For the Indians, they come in at 19th, averaging 4.62 runs per game (4.53 at home).
On the pitching side, it is all Cleveland. They rank third in the majors with a staff earned run average of 3.66 (3.59 at home). For the Red Sox, they fall to 21st in the league with an ERA of 4.82 (4.84 on the road).
When you put it all together, it is Cleveland that comes out on top. They rank seventh in the majors with a run differential of +82, while the Red Sox rank 11th with a run differential of +61.
Red Sox Hope To Make Push
To call Boston inconsistent this season might be an understatement. After winning the World Series last season, they came in with high hopes, but Alex Cora and company have just not been able to get things rolling all season. Sitting 7.5 games out of a playoff spot, it is starting to become now or never for the Red Sox, and they will look to Eduardo Rodriguez to get them started on the right foot in this series against a tough Indians team.
On the season, Rodriguez is 13-5 in 24 starts with a 4.17 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and opponents are hitting .253 against him. In 140 1/3 innings, he has allowed 135 hits, 65 earned runs, 20 home runs and has struck out 140 versus 53 walks. He will look to try to shut down a surging Indians team.
On the offensive side, J.D. Martinez has really started to turn it on as of late. The Red Sox slugger is hitting .331/.406/.636 over the last 30 days with nine home runs, 23 runs batted in and 20 runs scored. In addition to Martinez, both Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi have been playing well of late. Bogaerts, in the last 30 days, is hitting .328/.374/.582 with seven home runs, 19 runs batted in and 23 runs scored. In that same time, Benintendi is hitting .327/.392/.575 with five home runs, 22 runs batted in and 18 runs scored.
Indians Try For Division Lead
It seemed like just recently that the Twins were running away with the AL Central division. Fast forward to today, and the Indians now share the division lead with their rival. The Indians have won eight of their last 10 games and look to stay hot as they host Boston.
On the mound for the Indians will be Zach Plesac. In 13 starts, Plesac is 6-3 with a 3.13 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and opponents are hitting just .215 against him. In 72 innings, he has allowed 56 hits, 25 earned runs, 11 home runs and has struck out 54 versus 27 walks. This will be the second time he has faced the Red Sox after going 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball in his major league debut.
On the offensive side, the Indians are happy to finally see the real Jose Ramirez show up. After struggling most of the season, he has hit very well over the last 30 days. In that time, he is hitting .322/.350/.687 with nine home runs, 29 runs batted in and 21 runs scored.
Throw on top of that the fact that Francisco Lindor has been hitting .320/.368/.566 with six home runs, 16 runs batted in and 22 runs scored in that same time, and their offensive stalwarts finally are producing as their reputations would suggest.
Indians Take Game One
Eduardo Rodriguez has certainly pitched well this season; in fact, he may be one of the best pitchers that the Red Sox have deployed, at least from a consistency perspective. Still, I have a hard time trusting the Red Sox right now with the up-and-down season they have had. The Indians seem to be surging at the right time, so I am going with the Indians in this one. It helps that they are being seen as the underdogs despite playing at home. For my money, I will take the Indians at +103.