Rotations bolstered

Two teams that bolstered their starting respective pitching rotations at the trade deadline hook up Monday night when the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox host the Cleveland Indians in the first game of a four-game set. Most offshore sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product opened the Red Sox as $1.65 home favorites with a 10-run total.

Cleveland (53-51) at Boston (65-40), 7:10 p.m. EDT

Both the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox bolstered their starting rotations with deals at the trade deadline to strengthen their playoff chances.

If Josh Tomlin and John Lackey continue their recent pace, both teams may be in pretty good shape.

The right-handers oppose each other Monday night when Cleveland visits Boston to open a four-game set.

The Indians (53-52), 2 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Detroit, traded four minor leaguers – including two of their top pitching prospects – to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez, a deal which became official after Jimenez passed his physical Sunday.

The Red Sox (66-40), leading the East by two games over the New York Yankees, acquired Seattle left-hander Erik Bedard in a three-team trade on Sunday to help make up for the loss of Daisuke Matsuzaka and the injured Clay Buchholz, who hasn’t pitched since June 16.

Lackey (9-8, 6.20 ERA), though, has been solid of late. He’s won his last four starts with a 2.52 ERA, including a 12-5 victory over Kansas City on Wednesday when he allowed four runs in 5 2-3 innings. He’s lowered his ERA more than a full run from the 7.47 mark after a loss to Toronto on July 4.

During his current run, Lackey has benefited from baseball’s best offense while receiving 26 runs of support in 25 innings.

“I don’t think anybody would complain about sitting around and watching guys score runs,” Lackey said after Wednesday’s win.

He hasn’t been as lucky in his last two starts against Cleveland, however. Lackey gave up six runs in 5 1-3 innings in each loss – Aug. 20, 2009, and Aug. 2, 2010 – while Boston scored one run for him in each contest.

Tomlin (11-5, 4.01) will try to make that trend continue as he looks for his second win over Boston this season. He beat the Red Sox 3-1 on April 5, allowing one run and three hits in seven innings.

He’s 4-1 with a 3.81 ERA over his last eight starts, suffering his first defeat since June 12 in possibly his best outing of the season Tuesday. Tomlin gave up two runs and four hits in eight innings of a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

Cleveland’s offense struggled through most of its 2-6 homestand, capped with a 5-3 loss to Kansas City on Sunday. The Indians scored three or less runs in seven games, including getting no-hit by the Angels’ Ervin Santana on Wednesday.

They’ll hit the road for seven games in Boston and Texas, two of the three best offenses in baseball.

“We didn’t swing the bats very well this homestand,” said Travis Hafner, who went 3 for 27 over the eight games. “We’re going to have to score more runs on this trip because we’re playing good offensive teams.”

The Red Sox lead the majors with 586 total runs and have scored 15 over their last two games after beating the Chicago White Sox 5-3 on Sunday. Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run single in the seventh inning to give Boston the lead for good. Pedroia has hit safely in 45 of his last 48 games, batting .386 during that span.

“We’ve been playing good ball. We just have to keep it rolling,” Pedroia said. “We don’t have that big of a lead in the division, so we have to play good baseball.”

Cleveland has won four of the first six meetings this season – all at home – despite being outscored 25-19. The Indians have lost 10 of 13 at Fenway Park.

Speak Your Mind

*