The Boston Red Sox are in Cleveland for game four of a four game series against the Indians. Or should I say what is left of the Cleveland Indians? The Indians send a much-depleted roster to the field tonight to try and salvage a split in the four-game series. Cleveland took game one of the series in come from behind fashion. Trailing 4-3 late, the Indians tied the game up in the bottom of the eight on an Edwin Encarnacion single and then walked it off in the bottom of the ninth on a bunt and botched throw from Brock Holt.
The Red Sox then came back and won both of the next two games in dominating fashion, 9-1 and 6-1 respectively. Including handing Indians ace Corey Kluber a rare loss last night. It wasn’t that Kluber was that bad, he was actually quite good, going 7.2 innings, giving up just two earned runs and striking out twelve, but the Red Sox are just that good right now.
Tonight’s matchup features a couple of pitchers both having career years. First up is the probable Cy Young award winner in the American League this year, Chris Sale (14-5 2.62 ERA). Sale has been everything the Red Sox had dreamed of when they signed him to a mega-deal in the offseason. Sale leads the league in ERA, WHIP, strike outs, and wins, he has been dominant. The one team that has given him a little trouble in his career though? The Cleveland Indians.
Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
Chris Sale (14-5, 2.62 ERA) vs. Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.50 ERA)
Lifetime against Cleveland, Sale is a very pedestrian 5-7 with a 4.44 ERA. In his last start against these Indians on August 1st, Sale had his worst outing of the season. He got rocked for seven earned runs in just five innings of work. However, this isn’t the same Indians team anymore. They are all kinds of banged up. Injuries to Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, and Lonnie Chisenhall have depleted their line up and the loss of one of the best bullpen arms in all of baseball, Andrew Miller, is hurting their pitching staff.
The Indians will send Trevor Bauer (12-8 4.50 ERA) to the mound to try and rally a suddenly struggling Cleveland squad. Bauer is having a career year and has won his last five decisions. In his last starts against the Kansas City Royals, he was especially sharp, going 6.1 shutout innings and striking out nine in the win. He is going to need a similar effort tonight if the Indians stand a chance against Chris Sale and the high-powered Boston offense.
When you take a deeper dive at how each of these teams is playing right now, it seems Boston is the easy pick here. Sale has been on a near historic tear through the American League this season. He has given up one run or less in five out of his last seven starts, and his team is red hot. Boston has gone 15-4 in August and is starting to run away with the American League East title and have a very real shot to catch Houston for the best record and home field advantage in the American League.
In the 18 games that the Red Sox have won with Sale on the mound this year they have covered the run line in 16 of them. When Sale pitches the Sox like to score. If I were to ask you what team has the lowest batting average in the entire league in August who would you guess? The Tampa Bay Rays and their anemic offense? Maybe the San Diego Padres or the San Francisco Giants? Well, you’re wrong, it’s the Cleveland Indians. Shocker, right? This Indians team is struggling in a bad way right now even if their 12-9 record in August says that they aren’t.
This pick just comes down to the math. You have the best pitcher in the American League this season, sorry Corey Kluber, facing a team that is last in the Majors in batting average this month. Almost doesn’t seem fair, right? And to top it off this is the lowest line I have seen on Boston for a Chris Sale start in ages. Generally, you are going to have to lay -200 or more on a Chris Sale start. Not tonight. The line is just -150 right now and has dropped since opening at -160. The public likes Cleveland in this one, don’t be like the public.
For tonight’s game four I am backing the Boston Red Sox and in a big way. I like Sale to be his usual dominant self and expect that high octane Red Sox offense to do what it always does when Sale starts, score lots of runs. Bauer might be able to get them 6-7 decent innings, but once the Sox get into that depleted Indians bullpen, you can expect the runs to start pouring in. I am getting dog money on a Chris Sale run line! That literally never happens and probably won’t happen again this year so make sure to take advantage of it. Give me the Red Sox on the run line at +105 tonight in Cleveland.
PICK: Red Sox -1.5 runs at +105