There has been a perception with the Red Sox this season that they have only beat average-to-bad teams and not any of the top teams that baseball has to offer. In reality, this is a misconception as 10 of the first 15 series’ Boston has played this season have been against teams with winning records. In fact, in those games against teams with below-.500 records they are only 10-7, compared to 17-12 against teams with above-.500 records.
In 12 games against first or second place teams in the American League, the Red Sox are 6-6, being outscored 55-58 in those games, but those numbers include a three-game sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers, in which they were outscored 16-4. Things haven’t been much different at the plate for the Sox against top competition when compared to cellar-dwellars as in those 12 games they are hitting .256, compared to .262 overall this year.
Boston has a chance to further its campaign as an AL buzz saw beginning Thursday when it welcomes the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians to Fenway Park for a four-game set. Although much of the talk will be surrounding the return of Indians manager Terry Francona to Boston, this is a big series for the teams on the field. With the start of the Red Sox series the Indians begin a brutal stretch with eight of their next nine series’ against first or second place teams.
The series will provide Sox hurlers with a chance to prove themselves against one of the best hitting teams in the American League. Going into Wednesday the Indians are second in the AL in runs per game with 4.98 and lead all of baseball with 60 home runs. It will be a good test for the backend of the Sox' rotation as aside from Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz starters have a combined 5.40 ERA in their last six outings.
Follow Metro Red Sox writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84