The Cleveland Indians led the American League's Central Division for much of this season, but they've hit some tough times recently, and now are just trying to stay in contention. Thursday night the Tribe will be looking to salvage a split of a four-game series in Boston against the AL East-leading Red Sox (7:10 pm Eastern).
Cleveland won the opener of this series Monday night 9-6, but Boston has taken the next two games by scores of 3-2 and 4-3, both on ninth-inning hits by Jacoby Ellsbury.
So the Indians, who have lost 15 of their last 22 games, sit in second place in the AL Central, four games back of division-leading Detroit.
Boston, meanwhile, which has won 23 of its last 30, leads the AL East by one game over the second-place Yankees.
Justin Masterson (8-7, 2.56) hits the hill for the Tribe Thursday against newly acquired Erik Bedard (4-7, 3.45) for the Sox. As of Thursday morning 5Dimes.com is listing Boston as a -166 favorite, with an over/under of nine.
Masterson continues along with a solid season. Over his last three starts Masterson has allowed just three earned runs on 17 hits in 22 2/3 innings pitched, walking two and striking out 17. Cleveland is 12-10 in Masterson's starts this year, with the over/unders going 8-14.
Masterson has started one game vs. the Red Sox this year and two last year, holding them to three ER on 10 hits in 21 2/3 IP. Cleveland won all three of those games.
Bedard is making his first start for Boston after coming over in a trade with Seattle last week. In his first start since spending time on the disabled list because of a sprained knee last Friday Bedard got bopped for five ER in an inning and a third vs. Tampa Bay. But before that he had been going pretty good; in his three previous starts Bedard had allowed just three ER on 10 hits in 20 IP. The Mariners, a team that's 14 games under .500 overall, went 8-8 in Bedard's starts this season, with the O/Us going 7-8.
Bedard has started once vs. the Indians this year, and got clipped for six ER on 10 hits in just four IP.
Boston is 35-20 at home this season, while Cleveland is 25-30 on the road.
The Tribe leads the season series with the Sox five games to four, and six of those nine games have played under the posted totals.
Over/unders are 51-51 in Indians games this season, 52-49 in Sox games, and 31-20 in games played at Fenway Park.
As for Thursday's game, while Cleveland has struggled a bit lately we like the way Masterson has kept his composure and continued his solid season. And his numbers vs. Boston are very good. So we'll go with the Indians and the underdog price.