|Seeking spark, Indians visit Red Sox next|
In desperate need of a spark to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since April 3, the Cleveland Indians visit the Boston Red Sox for a Memorial Day matinee in the first contest of a three-game series Monday.
The Indians have lost six of their last seven, scoring more than three runs in just one of those contests, a 6-4 loss to Oakland on May 20. They embark on a seven-game trip through Boston and Chicago after completing their longest homestand of the season at 4-7.
"Quitting is not an option," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You have to keep playing. ... Nobody likes to lose. Guys don't like making outs, guys don't like giving up hits, but you have to play through that. I think that kind of can define who you are at the end of the season is how you fight through frustration."
Right-hander Jefry Rodriguez (1-4, 4.08 ERA) will take the mound against the Red Sox looking to right the ship. Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.45) gets the nod for Boston.
Little went right for the Indians in losing three of four to the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. In Sunday's 6-3 loss, Cleveland mustered all of its runs in the final two innings -- signs of life for a stagnant offense that ranks near the bottom of the American League in most key categories.
"It was a winnable game for us as a team, and we just didn't execute well enough to win it," said losing pitcher Trevor Bauer.
With the defeat, the Indians dropped to 26-26, 10 games back of the surging Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.
Also staring at a sizable division deficit are the Red Sox, who are 6 1/2 games back of the New York Yankees in the AL East. Boston managed to avoid getting swept by the Houston Astros with a 4-1 win Sunday.
Third baseman Rafael Devers led the way with a home run off Justin Verlander and is hitting .368 this month. He has four homers in his last six games.
"The cool thing about it right now is he's taking ownership and he's understanding what he means to our lineup, and he's going to keep getting better," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
Now 10 games into a stretch of 17 without an off day, Boston will count on Porcello going deep to give its beleaguered bullpen a breather. The right-hander has gone at least six innings in each of his last six outings and is 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA in that span.
Last time out, Porcello allowed one run over six innings in a no decision against the Toronto Blue Jays. He is 10-5 with a 3.57 ERA in 24 career starts against the Indians.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, will pitch against the Red Sox for the first time in his career. The 25-year-old took the loss in his shortest start of the season his last turn, allowing five runs (four earned) in four innings against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
The Red Sox are expected to activate utility man Brock Holt for the series opener. Holt has been on the injured list since April 6 with a scratched cornea in his right eye and right shoulder impingement.
--Field Level Media