Red Sox-Indians Preview

The Boston Red Sox have overcome their worst start in 66 years
to return to the thick of the pennant race, but they still haven’t
figured out how to beat the 2011 Cleveland Indians.

The visiting Red Sox will be without Dustin Pedroia when they
take their fifth crack this season at defeating the major
league-best Indians on Tuesday night.

Getting swept in Cleveland from April 5-7 sent Boston to its
first 0-6 start since 1945, but the Red Sox (25-22) have rebounded
to win 23 of 35 since mid-April and pull within one-half game of
Tampa Bay and New York for first place in a crowded AL East.

They missed an opportunity to claim the division lead with a 3-2
defeat in Monday’s three-game series opener, made worse by the
sight of Pedroia limping off the field in the eighth inning with a
left foot injury.

Pedroia got his feet tangled up as he rounded second base on an
Adrian Gonzalez single. Manager Terry Francona said his All-Star
second baseman, who had a screw surgically inserted into his left
foot last year, will sit out Tuesday.

“It’s kind of like a stinger,” Pedroia said. “It took a little
while to get the feeling back in my leg. It stinks, man.”

With Pedroia out, the Red Sox will hope a red-hot Josh Beckett
(3-1, 1.73 ERA) is fully healed. The right-hander has a 0.39 ERA in
four starts this month but his most recent one got cut short by
tightness in his neck.

He dealt with the ailment for much of his six-inning stint
against Detroit on Thursday. Francona decided not to risk further
injury, pulling Beckett after 83 pitches in a 4-3 win.

The next day, Beckett told MLB.com he was sore but feeling
better. He hasn’t generally felt good in Cleveland during the
regular season, going 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA in three starts there
including his lone defeat of this season, a 3-1 loss April 5 in
which he allowed three runs, five hits and four walks in five
innings.

Beckett earned his only win at Progressive Field during the 2007
AL championship series.

Cooling off Asdrubal Cabrera might be the key to earning a
victory Tuesday. The Indians shortstop is batting .364 with 20 RBIs
in his last 24 games and is 8 for 9 with seven RBIs in his last
two.

He had three hits Monday, including the tiebreaking double in
the eighth inning, and is 4 for 10 lifetime versus Beckett.

The series-opening win was the fourth in a row overall for the
Indians (30-15) and fifth straight at home, where they are a major
league-best 19-4. It was also their sixth consecutive victory at
Progressive Field over Boston.

“We’re just going out and winning ballgames,” Monday’s starter
Justin Masterson said. “It’s a different person every night. It’s
been a lot of fun.”

Probable Tuesday starter Fausto Carmona (3-4, 4.76) gave up
eight runs in five innings of a loss to the Chicago White Sox on
Thursday, but he has a 1.69 ERA his last four starts against
Boston.

The right-hander, winless in his last three outings overall,
allowed two hits to the Red Sox over seven innings April 7 but
didn’t get a decision in a 1-0 victory. Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez
went 0 for 3 with a walk in that game but is 11 for 18 in his last
four contests.

The Red Sox haven’t dropped seven in a row in Cleveland since a
12-game skid Aug. 23, 1931-Sept. 15, 1932.