Any road trip that includes a four-game losing streak usually won’t be a good one, but a .500 mark on their trek is still a possibility for the Cleveland Indians.
After notching a rare win at Fenway Park, the Indians seek a second straight and a split of this four-game series against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
The Indians started the trip in impressive fashion, taking three of four in Texas and capping that series with a 17-7 rout. But they followed with consecutive losses to Kansas City and dropped the first two games of this set before rebounding for a 3-2 victory Saturday.
Jason Kipnis had three hits and Cleveland (34-35) rallied with two runs in the seventh inning to win for only the eighth time in 28 games at Fenway. The Indians have been outscored 38-18 while posting a 6.70 ERA during a 1-5 stretch in Boston.
Runs have been hard to come by lately for the Indians, with their clutch hitting the most obvious deficiency. They have nine runs in the past four games and dropped to 4 for 29 with runners in scoring position after going hitless in 11 tries and stranding 13 baserunners Saturday.
”We’re going to have to win some games like that,” manager Terry Francona said.
Doing more than their share lately, though, are Michael Brantley and Kipnis. Brantley is batting .545 (12 for 22) over six games while Kipnis, a lifetime .362 hitter in Boston, is 16 for 47 (.340) with nine RBIs in his past 11.
Saturday’s loss ended a seven-game home win streak for the Red Sox (31-37), who went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position after they were 7 for 16 en route to a season-high 10 runs Friday.
Daniel Nava figures to be back in Boston’s lineup after he flied out as a pinch-hitter Saturday. Nava’s .438 average against the Indians is the best among active players and he’s 3 for 6 against scheduled starter Corey Kluber.
The Red Sox try to return to .500 at home behind Brandon Workman (1-0, 2.86 ERA), who comes of the best game of his career.
He allowed one single over 6 2-3 innings, walked one and struck out four in a 1-0 victory at Baltimore on Tuesday. It was the right-hander’s first win as a starter since July and he had to overcome two rain delays, both in the second inning.
”He was outstanding, especially in light of the two different rain delays,” manager John Farrell said.
Workman wasn’t nearly as sharp at Cleveland in his previous start, going five-plus innings while giving up three runs and four hits in a 12-inning loss.
Kluber (6-4, 3.35) will oppose Workman for the second time in three starts. The right-hander had his worst start in over a month June 4 against Boston, allowing four runs and five hits over 6 1-3 innings before leaving without a decision in a 7-4 victory.
He had been 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA in his previous six starts, striking out 60 in 43 innings.
"I think if you start worrying about your record in May, you’re kind of fighting an uphill battle," Kluber told the team’s official website.
Kluber was saddled with his first loss since April 29 on Tuesday, yielding six runs – three earned – over five innings in a 9-5 defeat at Kansas City.
He is 0-1 with a 6.06 ERA in three career starts against the Red Sox, but gave up one run over 6 2-3 innings in his only appearance at Fenway on May 26, 2013.