CLEVELAND -- Two teams that have won their respective divisions three years in a row will meet Saturday night at Progressive Field for the second game of a three-game series that could be a potential preview of a postseason series.
The 105-win Boston Red Sox, the American League East champions, will face the 85-win Cleveland Indians, the AL Central champs. The two teams split a four-game series in Boston last month. Boston beat Cleveland 7-5 on Friday night, the Red Sox's 105th win of the season, tying the franchise record set in 1912.
Saturday's pitching matchup will be two right-handers, Boston's Rick Porcello vs. Cleveland's Mike Clevinger.
Porcello (17-7, 4.30 ERA) is coming off a 5-3 win over the New York Mets in his last start, on Sept. 15. In that game, Porcello pitched five innings, giving up three runs and two hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
Porcello's last start against Cleveland came Aug. 20. The Red Sox lost that game and Porcello took the loss, pitching seven innings and allowing five runs and six hits, with six strikeouts and one walk. In his career against the Indians, Porcello has made 23 starts and is 10-5 with a 3.51 ERA.
Clevinger is on a late-season roll. In his last eight starts, he is 5-1 with a 1.85 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .189 batting average.
Those numbers include his last start, a 15-0 win over Detroit on Sept. 15. Clevinger pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, with five strikeouts and three walks.
Clevinger last faced Boston on Aug. 21, 2017, when he got no decision in a 5-4 Cleveland victory. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs and four hits, with four strikeouts, four walks and two home runs allowed.
Boston is not one of Clevinger's preferred opponents. In two starts against the Red Sox last year, his only two career appearances against Boston, he was 0-1 with an 11.05 ERA. In 7 1/3 innings in those two starts, he gave up nine runs, 11 hits and eight walks.
One of the hitters in Boston's potent lineup that Clevinger will have to pay particular attention to is MVP candidate J.D. Martinez, who in his four years with the Detroit Tigers, wore out Cleveland pitching. Martinez is a career .308 hitter vs. Cleveland, and he has more home runs (18) and RBIs (54) against the Indians than against any other opponent in the major leagues.
This year, Martinez is having a career year. He leads the league in RBIs (124) and is second in the AL in hitting (.330) and second in home runs (41).
"Unless you make your pitches to him, he can do some damage," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He can pull it with power, hit it the other way with power. He's taken things to another level this year. He's really dangerous."
A key hitter for the Indians is third baseman Josh Donaldson, who was acquired in a trade with Toronto on Aug. 31, and is trying to get up to speed after spending most of the 2018 season on the disabled list with a strained calf.
Donaldson was used as the designated hitter Friday night, and Francona said he will start at third base on Saturday and Sunday, the first time since joining Cleveland that Donaldson has played three games in a row.
"He's gotten himself in great shape, and it's paying off," Francona said. "We're trying to play him enough without playing too much."