Chris Sale has yet to lose back-to-back starts and he’ll need to beat the team that was responsible for his worst outing of the season to keep that streak intact. Sale looks to atone for a rocky performance versus Cleveland on Aug. 1 when he takes the mound for the Boston Red Sox in Thursday’s finale of a four-game set against the host Indians.
A 14-game winner in his first year with Boston, Sale normally takes top billing for the Red Sox, although he will have to share the stage with newcomer Rajai Davis. Boston acquired the outfielder from Oakland on Wednesday, just hours after learning that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. suffered a sprained ligament in his left thumb in Tuesday’s game. The Red Sox own a 4 1/2-game lead in the American League East — the same margin Cleveland enjoys atop the AL Central despite being outscored 15-2 in the last two games of the series. The Indians will look to right-hander Trevor Bauer for a solid outing to help a patchwork lineup, minus four injured starters, that managed only three hits in Wednesday’s 6-1 setback
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, NESN (Boston), SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Chris Sale (14-5, 2.62 ERA) vs. Indians RH Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.50)
Sale, who allowed four runs in a loss to the Yankees last time out, was roughed up for a season-high seven runs over five innings in a no-decision versus the Indians earlier this month. Prior to the loss versus New York, he was 3-0 and registered 63 strikeouts in six starts since the All-Star break. Francisco Lindor is 9-for-19 and Edwin Encarnacion 6-for-16 against Sale, who is 5-7 with a 4.44 ERA against Cleveland.
Bauer improved to 5-0 over his last seven appearances (six starts) by tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings at Kansas City, which came two days after he was used for two-thirds of an inning in relief. He beat Boston at Fenway Park on Aug. 14, giving up three runs on three solo homers while striking out 11 batters. That win left Bauer with a 1-2 record and 8.79 ERA in four appearances (three starts) versus Boston.
1. Encarnacion has four homers against Boston this season.
2. Red Sox 3B Eduardo Nunez is 4-for-9 with two homers and seven RBIs in the past two games.
3. The Indians placed 2B Jason Kipnis on the disabled list but are hopeful 1B Carlos Santana can rejoin the lineup Thursday.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 5, Indians 3