By: Sam Gagliardi
Well, that was fun.
The Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians just concluded their first meeting of the season, a 4 game tilt in Boston with the sides splitting the series; Cleveland taking the first two, and the Sox the last two. What would appear an evenly matched series, should the teams clash again in October, may not be, however.
Lets not pretend this series is the end all be all when it comes to playoff predictions. October is the biggest crap-shoot of any of the sports postseason spectacles, and there is plenty of time for clubs to still acquire players via waivers or lose player because of injury — just ask the Indians about September 2016… Anyways, first and foremost both team’s Cy Young candidates this year, Trevor Bauer and Chris Sale, were sidelined for this series, so let’s call that an even nullification. The Indians do still have the reigning Cy Young award winner, Corey Kluber, and he pitched well to secure the W in the first game. However, David Price countered with an excellent outing on Thursday, with 7 shutout innings to secure the series split, so will call that even as well. The Indians appear to have the bullpen advantage if Andrew Miller pitches like he did in the second game — 1 shutout inning, with 2 strikeouts. Since his return from the DL two weeks ago, Miller’s velocity has come and gone and he's struggled to command his fastball, if he can return to even 80% of the superhuman-MVP he was during October 2016, the Indians are a completely different team, but here is the problem: the Indians need to score runs if they are to take the lead and hand the game over to their bullpen.
The Series was billed as presenting 4 of the top 5 MVP candidates within 1 ballpark, and after concluding the series that has not changed, but it cannot be denied that 2 of those 4 players played like an MVP, while the other 2 surely did not. Unfortunately for the Indians, both of those players wear an Indians uniform, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. The dynamic duo combined for an uninspired 5-31 (.161), with Lindor 3-17, with 3 runs scored and Ramirez 2-14, 1 run scored. The bottom of the Indians lineup, which as not played well over the course of the season, did play well and contributed immensely to the team's two victories, but the Indians play their best, consistent baseball when Lindor and Ramirez are making things go. And to win in October, consistency is key. Flashback to last October, the Indians won the first two ALDS games against the Yankees but lost the last 3 and were consequently eliminated after finishing with the best regular-season record in baseball. The similarities to that series collapse and the most recent Boston series? Lindor and Ramirez combined to go 4-37 (.093), each with 2 hits, 1 HR and 13 (!) strikeouts against the Yankees...
That now appears the formula to beat the Indians. The Indians go as Lindor and Ramirez go.
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