The Boston Red Sox (27-29) kick off a 9-game road trip with a meeting against Terry Francona's Cleveland Indians (27-30). Both teams are rolling right now. Boston is on a 7-game win streak, while Cleveland is coming off a 3 game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
Not only do the two teams have nearly identical records, they also both currently sit in 4th place in their respective divisions and both trail their division leaders by 6 games.
- John Lackey (6-3, 3.27 ERA) gets the start for the Red Sox. He picked up a win against Atlanta in his last start, throwing 6.1 scoreless innings. Most impressive about the performance is that he struck out 9 without walking a batter. His 4.86 K/BB ratio is the 6th best in the AL.
- Stephen Drew will be activated today to take over the SS position, pushing Xander Bogaerts over to 3B. Drew signed a prorated 1-year, $14 million deal last month when injury and inconsistency from Will Middlebrooks convinced the team they needed more help in the infield. Drew declined the team's qualifying offer last winter, only to find the market had dried up for his services. Teams weren't willing to give him the contract he wanted if it meant forfeiting a draft pick as well.
- There is some concern that Drew's arrival will have a negative impact on Bogaerts, who doesn't seem happy about moving back to 3B. The rookie has shown remarkable poise in his young career, so while he may be disappointed in the short term, hopefully it won't impact his production at the plate. For now, it bears keeping an eye on.
- The bigger concern may be what happens to Brock Holt now. He's been the team's hottest bat lately, hitting .337 in 22 games and serving as the only legitimate option the team has found so far to fill the lead-off spot. The team is trying him out at first base to try to find another way to keep his bat in the lineup, but Mike Napoli will be back soon to provide another roadblock. Having too much depth is a great problem to have, but manager John Farrell will have his hands full trying to juggle this new lineup.
- Former Red Sox prospect Justin Masterson (2-4, 5.21 ERA) starts for Cleveland. Masterson headlined a package that Boston traded away in 2009 to acquire Victor Martinez. He's coming off a breakout season where he posted a 3.45 ERA and struck out 195 batters – 8th most in the AL. He's yet to carry that success over to this season, as his bloated ERA would suggest, but his strikeout rate has declined and his walk rate is up. He won't likely turn things around until he reverses those trends.
- Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has been one of the early surprises of the season, hitting .307/.370/.505 with 9 HRs and 40 RBIs (tied for 7th in the AL). He's only 1 HR shy of equaling the career high he set last season and is already more than halfway to equaling last year's RBI total.
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