Tribe Versus: Boston Red Sox 4/16-4/18

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Our Wahoo Warriors stormed into battle last weekend against rival Chicago and won the first divisional series of the season, but at what cost? As a major contributor to our offense, losing Michael Bourn for even one game will be felt. The Indians list him as day to day, but reports out of MLB.com say that he's likely out until the five stitches in his right index finger are removed. This could be anywhere from five to seven days. Bourn is hitting .333/.375/.600 and leads the Tribe in hits with 15 which includes four doubles, one triple, and two homeruns. To compensate, look for the skipper to play Drew Stubbs in centerfield with either Nick Swisher or Ryan Raburn taking right, and the trio of Swisher/Giambi/Reynolds at first base during this weeks series against the rosy stockings from Beantown.

Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
At Progressive Field, April 16-18, 2013

Game 1: LHP Felix Doubront (0-0) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (0-1)
        First pitch 7:05PM EST

Game 2: RHP Alfredo Aceves (0-0) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (3-0)
First pitch 7:05PM EST

Game 3: LHP Jon Lester (2-0) vs RHP Zach McAllister (1-1)
First pitch 7:05PM EST

Coming into his second full year, youngster Doubront had a decent spring in the Florida based Grapefruit league, posting a 3.00 ERA with 22 strikeouts and only six walks in 18 innings. The Venezuelan lefty has five pitches in his arsenal, but he leans heavily on his 93 MPH fastball. He tends to use the four-seamer almost 60% of the time whenever batters get ahead in the count and 50% of first pitches. He mixes in an 85 MPH changeup and a sick 76 MPH curveball, mainly in pitcher-friendly counts. Last year, Doubront was 12th in the American League in strikeouts with 167, but his 4.86 ERA and 1.45 WHIP were both over league averages.

Aceves is generally a guy best used out of the bullpen, but due to an injury to John Lackey opened a spot in the BoSox rotation which was granted to Aceves. The righty recorded a no decision on April 11th against the Orioles in which he fired 47 of his 79 pitches for strikes. In that game, Aceves gave up two earned runs on six hits and three walks with four strikeouts. The Mexican native uses four pitches, a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, curveball, changeup, and sick cutter. He's known to be able to mix in all of his pitches evenly with marksmanship-type accuracy.

Lester has looked like the Jon Lester of old so far this season. After a rough 2012 in which the southpaw recorded a career worst 4.82 ERA and 216 hits, Lester seems to have righted the ship and is back on course to being one of the most dominate pitchers of the AL East. In his three starts this year, the hurler has a 1.42 ERA with 18 strikeouts and only three earned runs on 15 hits. The Red Sox are leaning on their ace as they've gone 3-0 in games that Lester has started. The Beantown lefty sports four pitches including a 93 mph fastball and mean cutter. Look for that fastball early in the count as Lester tends to use it heavily on first pitches (70% against left handed batters and 65% against righties) and that cutter once he gets ahead in the count.

The Red Sox are coming into Cleveland red hot with a record of 8-4 and sitting atop of the AL East after sweeping Tampa Bay in a three game series in Boston. The heart of this lineup is proving to people early that they are going to be taken seriously. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia and centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury have 28 hits between them, eight of which are for extra bases. Mike Napoli seems to be enjoying the new scenery at Fenway, who has 11 hits, two homers, and leads the team with 11 RBI. Shane Victorino is hitting a solid .313 batting average with a .358 on base percentage. The Flyin' Hawaiian already has recorded three stolen bases this season and has five hits in his last three games.

The Tribe's offense will have its work cut out for them with Bourn's likely absence. Struggling Jason Kipnis is suffering from a sore elbow which had been bothering him in spring training. Hitting just .125/.171/.219, the Kipper often looks overwhelmed at the plate, as if he's thinking too much. If he can't turn it around here soon, Kippy might find himself in a similar situation Asdrubal Cabrera was in back in 2008. Droobs struggled at the plate early on that year, earning himself a trip to the Indian's minor league team in Buffalo where he could work out the kinks. If Kipster ends up on a bus to C-bus, the Tribe might call up utility guy Cord Phelps who had a monster spring training, hitting .375/.455/.688 with four doubles, one triple, and three homeruns.

You've got to be pleased to see both Masterson and McAllister going up against the BoSox. These two work horses have been lights out in their collective five starts, all being quality starts. Plus Carlos Santana made a brief appearance in Monday night's game against Chicago, so hopefully we can expect his bat back in the lineup full time very soon. Having him preceded by Nick Swisher and immediately followed by Mark Reynolds could be very potentate.

Oh, and here's a non-baseball related joke. Why not?

Knock knock. Who's there? Smell mop...

Say it out loud if you can't get it.

Yes, it's a little immature, but I was struggling to think of a good one. Guess I could have Googled one, but that just seems cheap. Just wait for the infamous "three strings" joke. That'll really put you in stitches.


Justin Johnston is a contributing writer to The Tribe Daily. You can follow him on Twitter @WahooJay.

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