Red Sox-Indians series preview

June 02, 2014 - 7:27 am
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The red-hot Red Sox look to inch closer to the .500 mark as they kick off a nine-game road trip on Monday against the Indians. With the 10-game skid far behind them, the Red Sox continue to play well on both sides of the ball, doing it with hitting and pitching during what has become a seven-game win streak. With the surge, the Sox have pulled to just two games under .500 with a 27-29 record. They remain in fourth place in the division but have moved within six games of the AL East-leading Blue Jays. It was the young guys who made the biggest impact for the Red Sox over the weekend, with Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts getting it done at the top of the lineup while Rubby De La Rosa turned in a stellar performance on the mound and Brandon Workman held the Rays offense in check. For the first time since 1975, two Red Sox made their major league debuts on the same day and collected their first hits, when Alex Hassan and Garin Cecchini made appearances in Sunday'€™s contest. The Red Sox have relied on organizational depth plenty this season thanks to an abundance of injuries, particularly to infielders. The Sox are running out of first basemen, with Mike Carp the latest to succumb to the injury bug, hitting the DL with a fractured foot. But the Red Sox will get another boost to their lineup and infield on Monday as Stephen Drew rejoins the club. He went 5-for-21 between two levels during his brief minor league stint. Injuries have been an issue recently for the Indians as well, with Terry Francona'€™s squad losing Nick Swisher (knee), Carlos Santana (concussion) and Zach McAllister (back) within the last couple of weeks. The Indians managed to go 15-13 in May but maintain a losing record at 27-30 and have slipped to fourth place in the AL Central. But the club is in the midst of a three-game winning streak, with their most recent victory coming on a walkoff win against the Rockies on Sunday. For the most part, it'€™s been the pitching that has left something to be desired, with Cleveland's starters posting a 4.59 ERA, third-worst in the American League. Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game set. Monday: John Lackey (6-3, 3.27) vs. Justin Masterson (2-4, 5.21) Tuesday: Jake Peavy (1-2, 4.50) vs. T.J. House (0-1, 4.05) Wednesday: Brandon Workman (0-0, 3.24) vs. Corey Kluber (6-3, 3.04) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX -- It appears that Holt has won a roster spot with his outstanding play over the past couple of weeks. The 25-year-old reinforced the benefits of his presence on the roster on Sunday, going 4-for-4 with four doubles on the afternoon while drawing a walk. Since being recalled for his second major league stint this season, Holt is hitting .333/.368/.524 with nine doubles and a home run. Holt played his first professional game at first base on Sunday and likely will see more playing time there thanks to the Red Sox'€™ shortage of healthy first basemen. He'€™s also been working in the outfield. -- A.J. Pierzynski was the hero on Friday night when his 10th-inning triple propelled the Red Sox to victory over the Rays. He comes to Cleveland in the midst of a very hot streak, getting hits in 10 straight games (including four two-hit games in a row) and batting .409/.422/.591 with five extra-base hits and seven RBIs over that span. Pierzynski now owns the second-best batting average on the club at .288 this season, behind just Bogaerts. -- Though he had a particularly ugly day at the plate on Sunday (0-for-5, three strikeouts), Bogaerts has continued to be one of the hottest hitters in the lineup. The 21-year-old has hit .375/.444/.569 in his last 18 contests with eight doubles and two home runs. With a .389 mark on the season, Bogaerts leads all American League shortstops in OBP and is second in the majors, trailing just Troy Tulowitzki (.450). WHO'S HOT: INDIANS -- One of the bigger surprises for the Indians this season has been Lonnie Chisenhall, who leads the team in many offensive categories, including batting average (.361), OBP (.412) slugging percentage (.541) and doubles (15). The third baseman has played especially well as of late, going 18-for-48 in his last 14 games with three home runs and 12 RBIs. -- Outfielder Michael Brantley has been productive all season long, but he has stepped up his game recently. Brantley is hitting .379 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs and 10 RBIs over his last 14 games. He'€™s also drawn five walks and swiped four bases in as many chances over that span. Brantley is hitting .307/.370/.505 on the season, and has drawn almost as many walks (19) as he has strikeouts (20). -- Kluber has proven to be the ace of the Indians€™ staff. The 28-year-old has been a strikeout machine, and he is tied with Jon Lester for the most strikeouts in the majors with 95. He'€™s fanning an average of 10.7 batters per nine innings while issuing just two walks per nine innings. He was stellar in May, going 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA in six starts. WHO'S NOT: RED SOX -- With just one hit in the series with Tampa Bay, it looks like David Ortiz is in a funk. The slugging designated hitter is batting just .148/.299/.204 with one extra-base hit (a home run) in his last 15 games. He'€™s walked more times (11, six intentional) than he has hits. Ortiz'€™s line has fallen to .262/.368/.487 on the year. -- After going hitless in 10 at-bats upon being recalled from Triple-A, Daniel Nava was optioned back to Pawtucket on Sunday to make room on the roster for De La Rosa. The demotion didn't last long, and Nava was added back to the 25-man roster due to Carp'€™s injury. He should see some time at first base, but he'€™s batting just .130/.221/.234 in 86 plate appearances this season. -- David Ross was one of the only members of the Red Sox lineup who went hitless on Sunday, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Though he'€™s not known for offensive capabilities, Ross has had an ugly stretch at the plate, going 6-for-his-last-38 while striking out 16 times. WHO'S NOT: INDIANS -- Jason Kipnis missed some time with an abdominal injury and was just recently activated from the DL. He'€™s had a disappointing season thus far, batting .226 with a .341 OBP and just nine extra-base hits in 31 games. He'€™s 2-for-12 since returning to the Indians lineup. -- Masterson, the former Red Sox right-hander, has had an off year and has been getting hit hard. Though he gave up just one run in his last outing (one that was cut short by a rain delay), he had previously given up a total of 17 earned runs over just 15 1/3 innings while issuing more walks (11) than strikeouts (seven). He comes into the series with a 5.21 ERA in 12 starts. -- Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is going through a rough patch, with just three hits in his last 28 at-bats. Cabrera is hitting .242/.320/.374 in 54 games this season, clubbing 12 doubles, a triple and four home runs while driving in 16 runs.

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