Game 44: Indians at Red Sox - Boston bats look to solve Salazar

Ben Whitehead
Contributing writer

Mookie Betts homered twice, including a grand slam, and the Boston Red Sox evened their series with the Cleveland Indians setting up the rubber game today. The two clubs also split the opening series that was shortened due to weather, so today's winner will have the leg up to take the season series later in the year when they complete the finale in Cleveland.

Rick Porcello toes the rubber in the rubber game today for Boston (26-17). Porcello was roughed up in his last start for four runs on eight hits in five innings in a loss at Kansas City. For the season, Porcello is 6-2 with a 3.51 ERA. In May, however, Porcello is 1-2 with a 4.82 ERA and he's raised his overall era from 2.76 to 3.51 during the month. For his career, Porcello is 9-4 with a 3.36 ERA against the Indians.

Danny Salazar gets the start for Cleveland (22-18). Salazar has been one of the better pitchers in MLB this year, sporting a 4-2 record with a 1.80 ERA. He's allowed three runs or less in all of his starts and has seven or more strikeouts in seven of the eight outings. Salazar is 2-1 in four starts in May, having gone 27.0 innings and allowed 16 hits, four runs, 10 walks and 35 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .172 against him this month.

Here is the lineup for the Red Sox this afternoon (first pitch 1:35 pm EDT):

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Xander Bogaerts, SS
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Hanley Ramirez, 1B
6. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
7. Travis Shaw, 3B
8. Blake Swihart, LF
9. Christian Vazquez, C

P Rick Porcello (6-2, 3.51 ERA)

RSL Notes

JBJ Watch

With his controversial infield single, Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 26 games. He's batting .411 (39-95) with seven doubles, three triples and all eight of his home runs and 29 of his 33 RBI since the streak began on April 24. Bradley has been intentionally walked three times, all within the last three games including twice Saturday against Cleveland.

Mookie heats up
Since dropping his average to .246 on May 9, Mookie Betts has been on a torrid pace. In the 11 games since then, Betts is batting .360 with a .780 slugging percentage and 1.187 OPS. He has seven multi-hit games in that span with four doubles, a triple, five homers and 15 RBI. Betts' average has risen 30 points to .276 and the leadoff hitter is second on the team with nine home runs (David Ortiz has 10).

More numbers to know
The Red Sox have homered in 21 straight games, a franchise record. ... Joe Kelly's stellar start Saturday continued a hot streak for him at Fenway. Kelly is 7-0 with a 2.41 ERA in his last eight home starts. ... Betts has hit safely in each of the past 11 home games, batting .352 with five doubles, four homers and 18 RBI.