The Cleveland Indians are about where the Red Sox are. The Sox are 38-30, Cleveland is 37-30. The Indians are also in the midst of a very succesful home stand. They swept both Colorodo and Arizona. They've won their last 9 games in a row, and 12 of their last 13.
The Indians do not have as potent an offense as we do. We have scored 362 runs (5.32 a game) and they have scored 288 (4.30 a game). However, they have allowed fewer runs. The Red Sox have allowed 328 runs (4.82 a game) and Cleveland has given up a mere 258 runs (3.85 a game).
The pitching matchups look like this:
Game 1 - CC Sabathia vs. David Wells
Sabathia is having his typical average year. He is 5-3 with a 3.91 ERA. Opponents are batting .256 against him. He is stirking out about 6 batters per every 9 innings. He is throwing just over 101 pitches a start. His WHIP is an unspectacular 1.28. In 12 starts he's allowed only 6 homers. In his last start against Colorodo, he got rocked (pun intended). He went 3.1 innings allowing 6 runs off of 8 hits. The start before that, however, he pitched a gem. He went 8 against the Giants allowing only 2 runs. Overrall, the Red Sox hitters are 25/87 against Sabathia. That's .287, which isn't that bad. They've got 5 homers in those 87 at-bats which is solid. The big matchup against Sabathia is Ramirez. Hopefully he'll be healthy because he owns Sabathia. He is 6 for 11 against him with 3 HRs. If those numbers were multiplied to reflect a season's worth of At-Bats (500), Manny would have 136 Homers. Unfortunately, Damon is a mere 2 for 11 against Sabathia and Ortiz is 2 for 12. Olerud is 5 for 15 and Millar is 3 for 7 so I think Millar should play first unless he has to play the outfield for Manny.
Wells is also having an average year. 5-4 with a 4.54 ERA and a nice WHIP of 1.16. Wells has gotten into trouble because of the homerun ball. He has allowed 9 in only 72 innings. Lately though, he's been amazing. In his last start he went 7 scoreless, 1 hit innings. In his start before that, he went 8 scoreless. Before that he allowed 4 runs, but still went 7. In fact, he's pitched into the 7th inning in each of his last 5 starts. Some members of the Indians have seen alot of David. Overrall the Indians are 33 for 111 (.297) against him. However, only 8 of their hitters have faced him. Gonzalez is 18 for 63 (.286) against Wells with 5 HRs. Coco Crisp is 4 for 7, Johnny Peralta is 3 for 5. Casey Blake is 2 for 10, and Ben Broussard is 2 for 9.
Both teams have had a decent amount of success at the plate against the pitcher they will be facing. This game should have a decent amount of offense. My prediction is the sox will win it 7-5.
Game 2 - Kevin Millwood vs. Bronson Arroyo
Millwood appears to be having both a good season and a bad one. His ERA is a nice 2.95 but his record is 2-4. He allows about a hit per inning and a walk every 4 innings. He hasn't given up too many HRs. In his last start, he was coming off the DL with a groin injury and pitched only 5 innings. He didn't allow a run though. He threw only 85 pitches but should be on a count of about 100 for this start. Renteria has some nice numbers against this guy. Edgar is 12 for 31 (.387). He's got 2 doubles and 2 homers against Millwood. Millar is 7 for 22, Mueller is 4 for 18. Varitek is 3 for 9 and Nixon is 0 for 8.
Bronson's overrall numbers have the appearance of mediocrity but that is because it is a combination of brilliant starts and starts that were not so brilliant. Arroyo is 5-3 with a 4.26 ERA. His WHIP is a decent 1.24. He had been going through a tough stretch until his last start when he started using the fastball as more of a feature pitch. He went 7, striking out 8 and allowing a mere run. His three losses came out of the 4 starts before his last one. When he is on, he is literally unbeatable this year. The Indians have very little experience against him. They are 6 for 21 off Arroyo.
Considering Cleveland's lack of experience against Arroyo and how Bronson has pitched when he "has it," I think the Red Sox should win this one. I don't think they'll really get to Millwood all that much. I think we shall win by a score of 4-2 or something along those lines.
Game 3 - Cliff Lee vs. Wade Miller
Cliff Lee is a 27 year old lefty. Already, I'm worried about this game. Lee is 8-3 this season with an ERA of 3.33. He has given up 9 homeruns but his WHIP is exactly the same as Arroyo's. his last start was unimpressive. He went 5, allowing 4 runs but he still got the win. his starts appear to vary from either being 7 innings allowing only 2 runs or so, to being 5 innings allowing 3+ runs. The Sox haven't seen much of him. Manny is 2 for 6 off him with a pair of doubles. Lee has a good variety of pitches. He throws a 4 seam fastball, a cut fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. His fastball is usually 90-92 MPH but can be faster or slower. The Red Sox will probably be taking alot of pitches because he does have control trouble from time to time and he gets his pitch count up.
Wade Miller has been struggling this year. He is 2-2 with an ERA of 5.16. his WHIP is 1.39 and he's walked 19 men in just over 45 innings. That isn't very good. Miller went 6 in his last start, allowing the Pirates to get 4. His start before was a 7 inning, 5 ER outing against the Cubs. miller's been able to go deeper into games now but he is still allowing a good amount of runs. The Indians have 70 ABs against Miller but only from 4 players. Jose Hernandez is 6 for 23 off Wade. Aaron F. Boone is 8 for 18 off him with a pair of HRs. Ronnie Belliard is 4 for 16. Alex Cora is 2 for 10 and Juan Gonzalez is 1 for 3.
The Indians should win this game. Their pitcher is a young lefty who will keep Damon and Nixon from hitting. He's also shut down Ortiz in limited at-bats. Jay Payton should definately start this game. Francona might also consider starting Mirabelli at DH because he eats lefthanded pitching for breakfast. I still don't see how we win this game unless we get Lee's pitch count up and we can get to the bullpen. I think we lose this game 5-2.
Bullpen vs. Bullpen
Getting to the bullpen against Cleveland won't be as fun as getting to the bullpen against Kansas City or Tampa Bay. They've actually got some really good pitchers out there. Their closer is Bob Wickman who is 20 for 23 in save opportunities. His ERA is 2.67. Setting him up is veteran lefty Arthur Rhodes who has an ERA of 0.95 with 11 holds and a WHIP of 0.88. In 28.1 IP, he's struck out 27 batters. Apart from Manny, the Red Sox haven't succeeded much against him. Setting up Wickman with Rhodes is Bob Howry with 9 holds and an ERA of 3.03 (why can't we get guys like this?) There's also lefty Scott Saurbeck (3.26 ERA), righty Rafael Betencourt (2.56 ERA), and righty Matt Miller (1.35 ERA).
We all know about the Red Sox bullpen. Foulke has been doing well as of late. Timlin has been solid all year as a set-up man. Myers has been a great situational lefty. Apart from them, there is no dependable arm out there. If any team has any late inning heroics at the plate, it will be the Indians.
What's wrong with this picture? Well, normally on a Formula 1 starting grid there are about 20 cars waiting to start. If you hadn't heard, 14 of the 20 cars at the United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis didn't start the race because their Michelin tires were deemed unsafe. So the 140,000 fans in attendance and the millions watching on TV around the world were treated with 74 laps of practice for Bridgestone tires. I thought it was a shame because Formula 1 racing is a nice sport and is above any American auto racing in term of technology, skill, and international prestige. Michael Schumacher, last year's champion, made about $60M last year from racing and endorsements. He recently outbid both Brad Pitt and George Clooney for a lakeside house. Schumacher won this race in his Ferrari but the big loser of the day was Formula 1 who aggravated some of their few American fans. I think this guy's got it right: