Staked to a 2-0 series lead following last night’s walk-off, the (58-49; 1st place in AL East) Boston Red Sox will look to complete the sweep today as they take on the (57-47; 1st place in the AL Central) Cleveland Indians for the last time at Fenway Park in the 2017 regular season (7.08pm ET Wednesday).
In a way, the sweep would represent a sense of poetic justice for Boston. In last year’s ALDS, the Indians made quick work of the Red Sox, taking all three of the games and leading in 26 of the 27 innings contested. The series was never really in doubt for the Indians as they went on from that victory to represent the AL in the World Series.
Coming into this three game set in Boston, the Indians had won nine of their last 10, including a streak of nine in a row which was ended on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox. Since that streak ended, the Indians has lost all three of their games, the most recent two coming against the Red Sox in this series.
There was nothing particularly close about the first game as Boston’s Doug Fister took a shutout into the eighth inning and rookie sensation Rafael Devers went 4-for-4 with an RBI. In just six games so far for Devers, the 20-year-old is hitting .417 with four RBI. For Fister, it was his first win in nearly a year ending a 10-game losing streak. For the Indians, Mike Clevinger gave up five of the six runs and was chased before after the fourth inning. By the seventh, it was 6-0 in favor of the home team. The Indians got on board in the eighth inning thanks to a two-run home run off the bat of Bradley Zimmer, but by then it was too late. Boston won by a final score of 6-2.
The second game of the series started much like the first except this time it was the road team that got off to the early lead. Cleveland scored five runs over the first two innings, only to see that lead evaporate in the bottom half of the frame. Boston batted around, scoring five runs, the highlight of which was a three-run homer courtesy of Mitch Moreland. Cleveland would add two more in the fifth followed by Boston taking their first lead of the game with a four-run spot in the bottom of the sixth.
The Indians chipped away at the lead in the eighth but it wasn’t until the ninth that they scored both the tying and go-ahead runs, thanks to their fourth home run of the game, this one by Francisco Lindor. Not to be outdone however, with the game tied and on their last at-bat, Boston’s Christian Vasquez walked off with a two-run homer. Vasquez went 3-for-5 on the day, adding to an impressive 9-for-17 run he’s been on in the last seven games. The final score was 12-10 Boston with the two teams combining for 22 runs on 28 hits.
Probable Pitchers: (BOS) Rick Porcello vs (CLE) Trevor Bauer
This match-up pits two pitchers against each other whose records and stats haven’t been indicative this season of how good their stuff normally is.
On the one side, for Cleveland, you have Trevor Bauer, who is one of the most intriguing young and up-and-coming pitchers in baseball. The 26-year-old hasn’t had his best season, with an ERA of 5.25, but he is coming off his best start of the year. Bauer went eight innings against the LA Angels and gave up just one run on seven hits. It was the first time in the month of July that Bauer gave up less than three runs and walked less than two batters. While this start is definitely promising, it’s worth noting that over his career, Bauer has given up 11 runs in just 7.2 innings against the Red Sox.
On the other side is last year’s Cy Young award winner, Rick Porcello. Like Bauer, Porcello has not had his best year. The 28-year-old righty who is in his ninth season in baseball, third with Boston, has just a 4.55 ERA, a far cry from the 3.15 he posted last year. Also compared to last year where Porcello won 22 games, this year he’s only won four and has one of the league’s worst winning percentages at a record of 4-14. Much like Bauer, Porcello’s best pitching has come recently. In the month of July, he has a 3.06 ERA and a handful of quality starts. This despite him being on the losing end of all four of his decisions this past month.
Our Preview’s Cleveland Indians vs Boston Red Sox Game 3 Picks & Predictions
On paper, this seems to be a pretty even pitching match-up. Where the differences lie come from the offense as the Indians have the league’s ninth best run scoring unit since the all-star break and Boston is ranked just 21st. The same goes for team batting average as Cleveland is hitting .271 in the last 17 games compared to a clip of just .230 for the Red Sox in their last 18.
But in isolation these numbers only mean so much and as far as the on-field product, it seems that Boston is turning the corner back to where they were prior to the midseason break. The Red Sox were hitting .274 in the first 84 games and averaged five runs compared to the 3.5 they have been averaging since. Over this series however, Boston is averaging nine runs per game, combining to score 18 runs on just 18 hits.
It’s always tough to sweep a team but the Red Sox are at home and have played well this year at Fenway. Not to mention, they seem to be coming out of a slump (were just 7-10 since the all-star break and had lost six of their last eight prior to this series), whereas with three losses in a row, the Indians may be mired in one.
The odds from the best offshore USA online bookmaker websites favor Porcello with a 1.5 runline and 10 runs total. So the predictions and betting picks for this preview are: