Monday Night ESPN Baseball Free MLB Picks, Tips and Odds: Cleveland Indians @ Boston Red Sox Favorite, Moneyline, Total and Expert Predictions 8/1/11: A pair of playoff contenders square off Monday night as the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox host the Cleveland Indians in the opener of a crucial four-game series. Both clubs have a lot on the line as the Indians sit just 2.5 games out of first in the AL Central, while the Red Sox cling to a two-game lead over the New York Yankees in their division. Both teams made moves before Sunday’s trade deadline in an attempt to bolster their postseason chances, and Monday’s game marks the unofficial beginning to the stretch run of the 2011 season.

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Offensively, there really is no comparing these two teams. The Red Sox lead the majors in team batting average, runs scored, hits, and rank at or near the top of every other statistical category as well. Meanwhile, the Indians are in the middle of the pack at best in most offensive categories. In terms of runs scored,Bostonholds a 146-run edge overCleveland, heading into Monday’s contest. Led by Adrian Gonzalez – the major-league leader in batting average and RBIs – the Red Sox lineup is without question more productive. 

Not to mention the fact that the two clubs have been polar opposites heading into Monday’s meeting.Bostonhas won seven of its last 10 games, whileClevelandhas struggled to a 2-8 mark during the same stretch. Granted, injuries to outfielders Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo haven’t helped the Tribe, but the rest of the team hasn’t exactly picked up the slack during the recent slump.

That being said, momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher, and on paper, the Indians appear to have the edge on the mound with 11-game winner Josh Tomlin facingBoston’s John Lackey. Tomlin (11-5) brings a 4.01 ERA into the matchup compared to a 6.20 ERA from Lackey (9-8). Tomlin also boasts some of the best control in baseball, walking just 16 batters all year. He has been stingy with baserunners in general in 2011 as his 1.02 WHIP can attest, and he will certainly need to limit baserunners Monday night in order to handleBoston’s loaded lineup.

Lackey on the other hand, has been a mess at times this year. From issues with his control to a drop in velocity, he has seen his ERA balloon over 7.00 as recently as July. Lackey has been pitching better of late, managing an ERA below 3.00 in his last four outings. Whether the recent surge is a trend or merely a fluke remains to be seen. What is know is that he has struggled in two starts against the Indians this season, giving up six runs in each outing and failing to make it out of the sixth. For what it’s worth, Tomlin notched a 3-1 victory in his only start againstBoston. However, that start came in early April when the Red Sox hitters had yet to heat up.

Despite the better starting pitcher in their corner, the Indians are just too overmatched offensively, especially with Boston playing at Fenway Park. Tomlin may have better numbers than Lackey, but his numbers are by no means elite. Top to bottom, theBostonlineup is filled with hitters that can beat opponents with one swing of the bat. The Red Sox will provide more than enough run support for the improving Lackey, who should be able to manage a depletedClevelandlineup. Expect Lackey to go about six or seven innings, giving up three of four runs. Gonzalez and company will take care of the rest.

Free Monday Night ESPN Baseball Tips and Prediction: Boston Red Sox (-1 ½) Cover the Spread

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Cleveland Indians @ Boston Red Sox
Date: 8/1/2011
Time: 7:10 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds -
Favorite: Boston Red Sox(moneyline) -175Total: Over/Under 10 Runs
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