Ensured of a losing season following Friday’s loss in Cleveland, and back in a tie for last place in the American League East, the 78-82 Red Sox take the field for the penultimate game of 2015 on Saturday night with Craig Breslow on the mound against Corey Kluber, who has been unable to duplicate last year’s AL Cy Young season.
Breslow (0-3, 4.22 ERA) made his first career start last Saturday against the Orioles, allowing just two hits in four innings as the Sox cruised to an 8-0 victory.
“Now that it’s done and it went pretty well, it was a lot of fun,” the 35-year-old left-hander said. “I don’t know how many guys make 500-some odd career relief appearances and then get a chance to start their first big league game.”
Breslow, who again will be limited to 50-60 pitches Saturday, has not faced the Indians this season. In his career vs. Cleveland, spanning 26 games and 26 innings, he is 1-3 with a 2.42 ERA.
Kluber (8-16, 3.62 ERA) has been struggling of late, going 0-4 with a 5.13 ERA in his last six starts. The 29-year-old right-hander allowed nine home runs in those six games, spanning 33 1/3 innings, after allowing the same number of homers in his previous 18 starts and 136 innings.
Limited to three September starts by a hamstring issue, Kluber is the first pitcher to lose 16 games with at least 230 strikeouts since Nolan Ryan in 1987 (8-16 for the Astros).
“I’ll take him at 80 percent compared to a lot of guys at 100 percent,” teammate Jason Kipnis said. “Corey is out there giving his best because he wants to help this team any way he can.”
Kluber is 0-2 in five career games vs. Boston, including one meeting this season. On Aug. 19 he allowed six runs — including a career-worst four home runs — in six innings as the Tribe dropped a 6-4 decision.
Red Sox vs. Kluber (RHP)
David Ortiz (12 plate appearances): .273 AVG/.333 OBP/.818 SLG, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (12): .182/.250/.273, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Brock Holt (10): .300/.300/.300, 2 RBIs, 1 strikeout
Jackie Bradley Jr. (8): .167/.286/.667, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Ryan Hanigan (8): .250/.250/.625, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 5 strikeouts
Xander Bogaerts is 0-for-2 with a hit-by-pitch.
Rusney Castillo is 1-for-3 with 2 strikeouts.
Pablo Sandoval is 1-for-3 with a double and a strikeout.
Travis Shaw is 1-for-2 with a HR, RBI, walk and strikeout.
Josh Rutledge is 0-for-2.
Indians vs. Breslow (LHP)
Michael Brantley (9 plate appearances): .250 AVG/.333 OBP/.250 SLG, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Mike Aviles (7): .286/.286/.286
Carlos Santana (6): .200/.333/.400, 1 double, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Jason Kipnis is 1-for-4 with a double and a walk.
Lonnie Chisenhall is 0-for-3.
Chris Johnson is 2-for-3 with a double.
Adam Moore is 0-for-2.
Ryan Raburn is 1-for-2.
Yan Gomes is 0-for-1.
Jerry Sands is 0-for-1.