American League Division Series
Red Sox vs Indians Game 1
Boston’s David Ortiz makes his last playoff run and starts it against a team managed by Terry Francona, who helped guide Ortiz and the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. Francona must find a way to work around Ortiz with a pitching staff at less-than full strength when the Cleveland Indians host Boston in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday (Enter Contests).
About the Red Sox
The Red Sox had a chance to earn homefield advantage throughout the playoffs but closed with five losses in the last six games to drop into third place and make it necessary to travel to Cleveland for Game 1. “Big Papi” went 3-for-20 with one extra-base hit in those six games while being showered with tributes, but the bigger issue for Boston was closer Craig Kimbrel suffering the loss in two of those games and issuing six walks in two total innings over his three appearances. Ortiz (38 home runs, 127 RBIs), Mookie Betts (31, 113) and Hanley Ramirez (30, 111) became the first trio in franchise history to reach 30 homers and 100 RBIs in the same season. The Red Sox took the season series 4-2, winning two of three in Cleveland.
Rick Porcello emerged as an AL Cy Young candidate in the second half and went 8-1 over his final 11 starts, yielding three or fewer earned runs in each of those outings. The New Jersey native had a string of 11 straight starts completing at least seven innings come to an end in his last two starts as he surrendered a total of six runs and 16 hits in 12 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay and Toronto. Porcello earned a home win over Cleveland on May 22 and is 10-4 with a 3.35 ERA in 22 career starts against the Indians.
About the Indians
The Indians’ pitching issues have more to do with health as Carlos Carrasco (fractured finger) will miss the playoffs, Danny Salazar (forearm) is limited to the bullpen and Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber (quad) starts Game 2 on 10 days’ rest. Shortstop Francisco Lindor batted .233 after Sept. 1 and was 6-for-23 against Boston this season.
Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26) will get the start. He might have slotted fourth in a fully healthy Cleveland rotation. The right-hander struggled down the stretch with a 7.20 ERA in his last five starts. The lone quality start in that bunch came Saturday, when the UCLA product held Kansas City to three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out nine in six innings. Bauer faced Boston twice this season and allowed a total of six runs with 10 hits in six innings of work.