Terry Francona's return to Fenway Park has been nothing if not entertaining.
The former Red Sox manager and current skipper of the Indians watched his team come out swinging Thursday, lighting up the scoreboard in a 12-3 win. On Friday, John Farrell's squad reversed the fate, sending the Indians back to their hotel with an 8-1 defeat on a rain-soaked night.
The third round of this heavyweight fight comes Saturday afternoon. The Red Sox enter with a 29-20 record while the Indians are 27-20.
"They've got a very good team," Farrell said. "They've got a very good lineup, they're balanced, they've got good pitching, a very good bullpen."
It's been almost three years since Indians starter Scott Kazmir pitched at Fenway Park, but it's a place he's very familiar with.
The former first-round Draft pick by the Mets and longtime member of the Rays has thrown more innings at Fenway than every park but Tropicana Field. In 83 innings, Kazmir has struck out 79 batters while going 6-5 with a 3.90 ERA.
After spending nearly two full seasons out of the Majors, the 29-year-old lefty is still working his way into midseason form.
He's flashed electric stuff at times, striking out 10 in a game against the A's in early May. However, his last two starts have gone sour. He's allowed nine runs over eight innings while striking out just five.
"The last two just didn't really go my way," Kazmir said. "I never really got into a groove. It's just kind of the way it goes sometimes. You don't have your best stuff pretty much all the time, but you've got to go out there and battle. That's what I tried to do the last couple starts."
After a hot start in April, Jon Lester has been battling his way through the month of May.
The veteran left-hander is coming off his worst start of the season, when he allowed the White Sox six runs (five earned) over six innings on Monday.
Despite inconsistency over his last five starts, Lester is 6-1 this season with a 3.15 ERA while holding opponents to a .211 average.
Indians: Running through the Sox
The Indians stole three bases Friday night, including one from an unexpected thief: Mark Reynolds.
Reynolds stole third base while Michael Brantley stole second on a double steal in the third inning, and Reynolds then ran home for the Indians' only run when the throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia sailed into left field.
It was the third time this season the Indians have stolen three bases in one game.
The Indians might keep running in this series: Saltalamacchia has allowed 22 steals in 25 chances this season, while David Ross has allowed 10 steals in 14 chances.
Red Sox: Injury bug hits
The Red Sox sent a pair of starting position players to the 15-day disabled list Friday.
Shane Victorino, battling left hamstring and lower back ailments, and Will Middlebrooks, dealing with a lower back strain, will be out of action for the near future.
Replacing Victorino in right field is Daniel Nava, who has shown a consistent approach at the plate this season and is being rewarded with a .299 average and an on-base percentage above .400. He took over Victorino's No. 2 spot in the order on Friday. Mike Carp, who homered Friday, should split time with Jonny Gomes in left field.
The newest face in the Red Sox's lineup is 23-year-old defensive wizard Jose Iglesias, who only recently started playing third base at Triple-A Pawtucket and will take over for Middlebrooks. Iglesias was hitting .450 (9-for-20) with the Red Sox before being demoted earlier this season. He hit .202 in the Minors.
• Jacoby Ellsbury stole his 15th base of the season Friday and is tied with Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth for most in the American League. Even while hitting just .249, Ellsbury, who once stole 70 bases in a season, is on pace for about 50 steals.
• Cleveland has hit left-handed pitchers better than any team in the Majors this season, batting .280 with 24 homers and 92 runs scored. No other team has scored more than 74 runs off southpaws.