Cleveland Indians (27-19) at Boston Red Sox (28-20)
Friday, May 24 - 7:10 PM EST
Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
Now that Terry Francona has been welcomed back to Fenway Park, the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox can continue their four-game set Friday with no major drama. Then again, there may be some uneasiness at Fenway Park if the Sox cannot improve on their performance in the opener, which resulted in a 12-3 Cleveland victory. The Indians recorded 16 hits and drew eight walks in the rout, the Indians' sixth win in seven games.
The loss continued a peculiar trend for Boston. While its 13-11 home record is not a bad one, it is worse than the 15-9 mark on the road. The Sox, historically a dominant unit at Fenway Park, have gone two-plus seasons with a better record away from the comfortable confines and the contrasts have been striking at times in 2013. Boston has dropped six of its last seven at home and has been outscored 24-7 in the last two. It has a 4.42 ERA at Fenway and a 3.45 mark away from home.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), New England Sports Network (Boston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RHP Justin Masterson (7-2, 2.83 ERA) vs. Red Sox RHP John Lackey (2-4, 3.31)
A one-time Red Sox, Masterson has often enjoyed facing his former team. He is 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA in six career starts against Boston, and that includes a rare rough encounter April 17 in Cleveland, where the Sox got to him for four runs and a season-high 11 hits in five frames. That began a four-game stretch where Masterson went 1-2 with a 6.48 ERA, but the big right-hander has recovered to go 3-0 with a 1.17 mark in three outings since. He enters this one with a scoreless streak of 19 innings intact.
Lackey is coming off his best performance of the season Sunday in Minnesota, where he limited the Twins to one hit in six innings, allowing only an unearned run. Lackey has fanned 16 batters and walked just two in his last three games, a sure sign that the biceps issue that troubled him early in the season is a thing of the past. The veteran righty has yielded just two earned runs in 13 frames at Fenway Park this year.
1. Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks left Thursday's game with lower back spasms.
2. Indians OF Nick Swisher is expected to return Friday from paternity leave. He is 10-for-61 with 23 strikeouts against Lackey.
3. Boston RF Shane Victorino missed his third straight game Thursday with a hamstring issue.
PREDICTION: Indians 5, Red Sox 4