MLB Baseball: Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians Preview, Prediction & Odds - Aug. 28, 2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH
Where to watch: FS1

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Red Sox -160, Indians +140
FanDuel: NL

Season record (entering Friday)
Red Sox: 73-56 (3rd place, AL East)
Indians: 63-62 (2nd place, AL Central)

Jack Banks went 3-0 in MLB on Thursday night, extending his record with his 3-play MLB packs to 18-6. Jack is involved in one game on Friday, a 10-star MLB Bank Job Mismatch. Check out Jack and other plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.

Red Sox - Indians preview and analysis

Recent form (entering Friday)
Red Sox: 5-5 in last 10
Indians: 7-3 in last 10

That was exactly the kind of offensive night the Boston Red Sox needed on Thursday. Can they string a couple of hot nights together to start cooking with gas?

We’ll have a better answer when the Red Sox face the Cleveland Indians in the second game of their three-game series at Progressive Field on Saturday.

We talked about it Thursday (our preview for Friday’s game) how the Red Sox can be one of the best teams in the league when that offense is clicking. The talent showed in the series finale against the Minnesota Twins. Boston erupted for 12 runs on nine hits to cruise to a 12-2 victory and take two of three in the set.

Rafael Devers went 2-for-5 with three RBI, including a two-run home run for his 30th of the season, but that wasn’t even the storyline of the night; nor was Kyle Schwarber drawing FIVE WALKS. That’s what we call a loaded BB gun.

But it was first baseman Bobby Dalbec having a night to remember from the nine spot; 3-for-4, two homers, seven RBI for a guy who entered Thursday batting .235. He’s still at a pedestrian .235, but Dalbec is batting .395 with five homers and 19 RBI in his last 15 games. To get that kind of production at the bottom of the lineup is a luxury.

To top it off, Chris Sale improved to 3-0 this season in his first three starts since returning from Tommy John surgery. The ace not only allowed only two runs in 5.1 innings, but also put together an immaculate inning for the third time in his career, striking out the side in nine pitches in the top of the third.

“I guess it was good enough,” Sale said. “I would have really liked to have gotten through that sixth inning. But hey, at this point you can’t really complain about it. I want to be better out there next time, I want to finish that inning. But coming back after a game like today, that puts you in a good mood, gets you on a good flight. Gets us off on the right foot for this next series in Cleveland.”

Safe to say it was an all-around perfect day for the Red Sox. Not only did they get the win, but were able to pad their lead for the second American League Wild Card spot. The New York Yankees won their 12th straight game with a 7-6 win over the Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners also dropped their first of a four-game set with the Kansas City Royals, 6-4, at T-Mobile Park.

Boston will turn to No. 2 starter Nathan Eovaldi for Game 2 to follow up Eduardo Rodriguez on Friday. Eovaldi had done stellar with Sale on the IL, but with the Red Sox ace back, the pressure isn’t on him to carry the rotation. Eovaldi is 10-8 with a team-best 3.72 ERA and a WHIP of 1.17.

The top three teams trailing the Red Sox in the playoff race (including the Toronto Blue Jays) all lost on Thursday. The next team after them, the Indians, are eight games back entering this crucial series on Friday.

The Indians can really shake things up with a series win this weekend. Maybe not in the American League Central race -- they still trail the Chicago White Sox by nine games -- but a couple of wins to continue this hot week they’ve been on can make someone who’s claustrophobic feel scared of the crowded AL playoff race.

Cleveland took two of three against the Texas Rangers with a 10-6 victory on Thursday in Cleveland. The Indians struck early with two homers in the bottom of the first from Myles Straw and Bradley Zimmer. Franmil Reyes added an RBI double to give the Indians a quick 4-0 lead.

Despite the Rangers scoring two runs in the second and third to tie the game, Cleveland answered with another four-spot in the bottom of the fourth thanks to RBIs from Andres Gimenez, Amed Rosario, Jose Ramirez, and Reyes for the second time. Reyes finished the day 3-for-4, while Ramirez went 2-for-3. Every player in the Cleveland lineup registered at least one hit. The 3-7 batters each had at least two.

Fresh off his start in the Little League Classic on Sunday, Cal Quantrill will return to the mound Saturday with hopes of replicating that performance in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Quantrill threw seven shutout innings while striking out nine in the 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.


Quantrill has done well at home this season, going 3-0 with a 2.51 ERA. The only blemish is he’s given up more homers (6) at Progressive Field than away (3). If the Red Sox bats come alive, it could be a long day for Quantrill. Something tells me he’ll be able to get something done in this one. I need a more consistent approach from the Boston lineup in order to feel confident picking them in multiple games. Indians win 5-4.

Betting trends

The Red Sox are 24-19 (-4.5 games on the moneyline) when favored between -125 to -175.

As an underdog, the Indians are only 12-19 when the line is between +125 to +175.

Key injuries

Red Sox: None

Indians: SP Triston McKenzie (shoulder, 10-day IL)

Players to watch

Red Sox: Boston is going to need Rafael Devers to keep this production up. Entering Friday, he’s two home runs from tying his career-high, but he also has hits in three of his last four games after going 0-for-15 in his previous four. When talking about the need for offense in Boston’s lineup, the top power hitter is at the top of the list.

Indians: Jose Ramirez is closing in on a 30-homer season, but putting the ball in play will be crucial for the All-Star. After going 0-for-4 Wednesday against Texas, Ramirez went 2-for-3 and drew two walks in the series finale. 

Projected lineup

Red Sox:
Enrique Hernandez (R) SS
Kyle Schwarber (L) DH
J.D. Martinez (R) LF
Rafael Devers (L) 3B
Alex Verdugo (L) RF
Christian Vazquez (R) C
Christian Arroyo (R) 2B
Jarren Duran (L) CF
Bobby Dalbec (R) 1B

Myles Straw (R) CF
Amed Rosario (R) SS
Jose Ramirez (S) 3B
Franmil Reyes (R) DH
Bradley Zimmer (L) RF
Owen Miller (R) 1B
Daniel Johnson (L) LF
Austin Hedges (R) C
Andres Gimenez (L) 2B

Probable starting pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi (BOS) vs. Cal Quantrill (CLE)

Statistical leaders

Red Sox:
Batting average: Xander Bogaerts (.302)
Hits: Xander Bogaerts (133)
Home runs: Rafael Devers (30)
RBI: Rafael Devers (94)
Stolen bases: Christian Vazquez (8)
Wins: Nathan Eovaldi (10)
Saves: Matt Barnes (24)
ERA: Nathan Eovaldi (3.72)

Batting average: Amed Rosario (.287)
Hits: Amed Rosario (128)
Home runs: Jose Ramirez (29)
RBI: Jose Ramirez (80)
Stolen bases: Jose Ramirez (19)
Wins: Aaron Civale (10)
Saves: Emmanuel Clase (18)

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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