Hello. I am Matt. I love italics. You are Reader. You love italics. Lets preview a series.
- You may recall the city of Cleveland from Drew Carey's TV show. But, contrary to what you may have heard, it's still there. (What would this series preview be without a Cleveland joke?)
- Somehow LeBron taking his talents (and a few other sundries) to Miami didn't crater the local nine's chances in the AL Central. Back at the dawn of time before Series Previews were created, the Indians beat the snot out of the Red Sox in the second series of the season. The Sox regained some standing in the ultra-bitter rivalry that is Boston/Cleveland by winning two of three in late May. Therefore the Indians are holders of a 4-2 lead in games. This four game series that you are currently previewing represents the final time the teams will meet in the REGULAR (wink!!) SEASON (wink wink wink!!). Unless of course the 'find' feature on my computer is busted.
- At 53-52, 2.5 games behind Detroit, the Indians are in the midst of a close AL Central race.
- Of the nineteen teams the Red Sox have played this season, they have losing records versus six.
- Through the oddity that was the Colorado Rockies starting a pitcher on deadline day whom they had a high probability of trading, the Red Sox are not currently scheduled to face new ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
- Due to newest Red Sox Erik Bedard's prove-you-aren't-hurt-and-don't-suck start this past Friday for the Mariners, one which only succeeded in proving he wasn't hurt, he likely won't face the Indians. Sadly this robs us all of a good Canada vs. Dominican Republic rivalry showdown super extreme mega-explosion ultra-match-up exploding game thing.
- The Red Sox just finished their first 20 win month since May of 2007. Their previous 20 win month? August of 2004. That's called a theme, people.
- New acquisition Erik Bedard's xFIP (via FanGraphs) is 3.39. For context, Jon Lester's xFIP is 3.38.
- After a hot start the Indians offense has fallen back to earth. Earth being ninth place in fWAR in the American League. Two questions: How can we dance when our world is turning? How do we sleep while the beds are burning? Indeed.
- The Red Sox are first in offense (fWAR, bWAR, turdsWAR) in all of baseball. You can shut them down, but it ain't easy. To overly contextualize this, again by fWAR, the Red Sox offense has generated almost three times as much production as their Indian counterparts (29.5 to 10.8).
Individual game notes after the jump!
Game One Notes
- In my mind The John Lackey is like the Garfoose. He's a mythical and somewhat silly-looking creature who appears sporadically for our collective amusement. One difference though, I think the Garfoose's strikeout rate is higher.
- Josh Tomlin does not issue many walks (an amazing low 16 in 134.2 IP on the year) which is good because he is not a strikeout pitcher (only 73). The total package amounts to roughly league average production (95 ERA+ where 100 is average).
- Despite the above, Tomlin has been the second best starter for the Indians this season. Suddenly the Ubaldo Jimenez deal makes a bit more sense, eh?
- The Muddy Chicken hit .411/.465/.723 in the month of July.
Game Two Notes
- David Huff has two things going for him. Well, three if you include his delicious pies. But I don't. So just two.
- The first is he's left handed. Usually this is a good thing, but it's not been particularly helpful against the Red Sox this season. The party line is the Red Sox can be defeated by a lefty because their lineup is so lefty-heavy, but in fact they have almost exactly the same OPS as a team versus lefties as they do against righties (.812 vs. righties; .814 vs. lefties).
- The second thing is Huff's performance so far this season. He has an ERA+ of 553. So, 433% above average. This would be the greatest season in baseball since Old Hoss Radbourn's opium and goat's blood elixir fueled 1,053 OPS+ back in 1885.
Game Three Notes
- Carlos Carrasco came to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee deal. Both of their first names start with the letter "C" and they are both ostensibly pitchers. That is the entire List of Things That Make Carlos Carrasco Like Cliff Lee.
- Tim Wakefield is sitting on 199 career victories. Get up, Timmy! They're not going to be able to breath!
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .261/.327/.464. Yes, he's slugging .464. Did I mention he's 26 and makes peanuts? Looking back at the trade that brought him over from Texas, the Rangers are probably watching the Full House: The Complete Series DVD set but there's no way they were able to eat all those pudding cups before they went bad. I'm calling the deal a win for the Sox.
Thursday, Aug 4, 2011, 7:10 PM EDT
It will hail, rain, snow, and sleet. Or not. But it will be cloudy. Unless it isn't. The winds will blow to left field at 5-10 m.p.h unless they blow to right at 8-12 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 85.26. Guaranteed.
Game Four Notes
- Remember Olde Friend Justin Masterson? He's the gift that keeps on giving, because while Victor Martinez has taken his talents to Detroit, Masterson has kept his in Cleveland.
- Don't remember him, huh? Maybe his 1.25 lifetime ERA vs. Boston will jog your memory. Masterson's fiendish anger at worms continues unabated this season as 54% of the balls put into play are of the ground variety.
- Jon Lester's strikeout rate is dropping for the third consecutive season. He's gone from 10.0 to 9.7 to 8.7 this season. Of course there is still time to send more guys back to the dugout unhappy and 8.7 is still well above average, but it bares watching. Or it watches bears, which ever.