The Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox take the field for Game One of the ALDS tonight at Progressive Field. Here’s what you need to know as the quest for a World Series gets underway.
The wait is over. No more talking (writing), analyzing, or predicting. The Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox will finally begin to decide the American League Division Series on the baseball diamond on Thursday night at Progressive Field.
It’s only been since Sunday that the two teams played their final games of the regular season, but that wait has felt like an eternity for fans on both sides, filled with articles, conjecture, opinion, biases, and statistic after statistic from the industry of writers and talking heads devoted to the national pastime.
It’s time for playoff baseball in Cleveland. Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s matchup.
Tale of the Tape
- 94-67 (AL Central Champion)
- +101 run differential
- Team Offense: .262/.330/.430
- Team Pitching: 3.84 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 122 ERA+
Boston Red Sox
- 93-69 (AL East Champion)
- +184 run differential
- Team Offense: .283/.349/.463
- Team Pitching: 4.00 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 114 ERA+
Season Series: Boston 4-2 (31-18)
On the Bump
Cleveland will send right-hander Trevor Bauer to the mound for his first career postseason start. During the 2016 regular season, the 25-year old went 12-8 with a 4.26 ERA, 3.99 FIP, and 110 ERA+ in 35 appearances that included 28 starts and covered 190 innings.
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Bauer was 0-1 against Boston in two appearances, one start, allowing six runs on 10 hits and four walks in six innings of work, yielding a .357/.438/.643 slash line, two doubles, and two home runs.
The Red Sox will counter with potential AL Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello in his ninth career playoff appearance. The big righty won a league-best 22 games against just four losses in the regular season, with a 3.15 ERA, 3.40 FIP, and an ERA+ of 145, pitching 223 innings in 33 starts.
Porcello allowed two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out five, in 5.2 innings in a May 22nd win against the Indians, his only time facing them in 2016. As a former member of the Detroit Tigers, though, he is no stranger to the Tribe, having gone 10-4 with a 3.35 ERA in 22 career starts.
At the Plate
Cleveland was the second-highest scoring team in the American League during the regular season, averaging just under five runs per game, and placing in the top tier in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, doubles, and runs batted in. The Indians also led the league in baserunning, stolen bases, and extra bases taken.
The Tribe’s offense has been a total team effort, with established players like Mike Napoli, Carlos Santana, and Jason Kipnis setting career-highs in power numbers, and emerging stars Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez placing among the league’s best in hitting.
Ahead of the Tribe in almost every offensive category was Boston, the highest-scoring team in all of Major League Baseball. The Red Sox led the AL in hits, doubles, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS, and were among the top tier in home runs, baserunning, and extra bases taken.
The BoSox are led at the plate and in the clubhouse by David Ortiz, who is enjoying one of the greatest final seasons of a career in the history of the game. Mookie Betts is a leading candidate to take home AL Most Valuable Player honors, and is complemented by emerging young all-stars Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, Jr., as well as veterans Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez.
How to Watch
First pitch of this ALDS Game One is slated for 8:08 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live nationally on TBS and on local Cleveland radio stations WMMS 100.7 FM and WTAM 1100 AM. SportsTime Ohio will also have a live postgame show airing from downtown Cleveland immediately following the conclusion of the game.
Indians fans have waited nine years for a divisional title and the promise of more than just a single game at Progressive Field. Boston is a fairly heavy favorite to win the series, but Tribe fans have watched their team defy the odds all season long. It’s time to play ball.