Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians
Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio
CLEVELAND – The Boston Red Sox had a shot at clinching the best record in baseball and setting a franchise record for wins on Saturday but fell just short with an extra-innings loss. The Red Sox will try to accomplish both feats again when they visit the Cleveland Indians for the rubber match of a three-game set on Sunday.
Boston, which could see the Indians in a potential American League Championship Series, already clinched the AL East but needs one more victory or Houston loss to ensure that it will finish with the top seed in the AL playoffs. The Red Sox suffered a 5-4 loss on Saturday in 11 innings but did get an encouraging sign for the postseason when the middle relief tandem of Brian Johnson and Joe Kelly combined for four scoreless innings. Cleveland was the first team to clinch its division (AL Central) and is trying to get its bullpen in line for the postseason as well but watched left-hander Brad Hand allow an inherited runner to score while getting knocked around in the eighth inning. Both teams figure to go to the bullpen early when swing starters Hector Velazquez of Boston and Adam Plutko of the Indians square off on Sunday.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Hector Velazquez (7-2, 3.18 ERA) vs. Indians RH Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.27)
Velazquez is making his eighth start in his 45th appearance and is 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA in that role. The Mexico native last started at Atlanta on Sept. 5 and allowed two runs on five hits and three walks in four innings without factoring in the decision. Velazquez worked one-third of an inning in relief on Friday for his lone action against Cleveland this season.
Plutko is jumping back into the rotation for a turn as Cleveland spreads out the starters in advance of the playoffs and is hoping for better results. Plutko was ripped for five runs on nine hits – three homers – over 4 2/3 innings at Toronto in his last start on Sept. 8. The 26-year-old, who surrendered three blasts in each of his last two starts, kept the ball in the yard at Boston on Aug. 23 but was knocked around for five runs on as many hits in 4 1/3 innings to suffer a loss.
1. Red Sox RF Mookie Betts (left side) could return to right field on Sunday.
2. Cleveland became the first team in history to have four different pitchers reach 200 strikeouts when RHP Mike Clevinger hit the mark on Saturday.
3. Indians 3B Josh Donaldson is 4-for-10 with a homer and two RBIs in the series.