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  • 22 Apr
    David Price is still looking to get his first postseason win as a starter, while Corey Kluber could give the Cleveland Indians a critical 2-0 advantage over the Boston Red Sox if he proves hes healthy and ready to roll. Who has the edge in their American League Division Series Game 2 showdown?Go inside the numbers and matchups that will decide tonights game, and then vote for which team will win at the bottom of the page.Inside the pitching matchupWhen?Price is on the mound: You cant ignore the big story here: Price is 0-7 with a 5.27 ERA in eight career postseason starts (he had two wins, both in relief). On one level, he has pitched better than that with 49 strikeouts and eight walks in 54? IP. He has, however, allowed 10 home runs. Seven of those were solo shots, so that doesnt explain the high ERA by itself. Indeed, he has allowed a .333 average with runners in scoring position.Prices game in recent years has been to pound the strike zone. That efficiency allows him to pitch deep into games -- he led the AL in innings for the second time in three years -- but also leads to hits and home runs. His season splits were odd: He had a 4.34 ERA in the first half, 3.58 in the second, even though he had a much lower strikeout rate after the All-Star break. He used to rely on a 95-plus fastball, throwing it 70 percent of the time, but added a cutter/slider hybrid this year that he threw about 20 percent of the time to go with a changeup and curveball. The cutter wasnt necessarily all that effective as batters hit .307/.349/.464, but offered a secondary pitch in the 88-mph range to counter his 92- to 94-mph fastball.Price will throw his fastball with command to both sides of the plate. Against righties, he likes to spot the changeup away, although he does pitch up in the zone, which explains the home run issues (30 this year). He used to be death on lefties, but they actually had a higher OPS against him this year. -- David SchoenfieldWhen?Kluber is on the mound: Its all about health for the 2014 Cy Young winner (and 2016 Cy Young contender) after leaving his final start on Sept. 26 with a right quad strain. Trevor Bauer drew the Game 1 start to give Kluber an additional day of rest.Klubers best pitch is one of the most dominant in baseball: A curveball (some call it a slider) that held batters to an .099 average and recorded a strikeout rate of 52.8 percent. He buries it low and away from righties, and over the past three seasons, batters have hit .106 against it with just five home runs. With two strikes, he throws it about a third of the time, so batters cant really sit. Along with his fastball he throws a cutter and an occasional changeup.One thing to watch: Kluber has always pitched much better from the windup than with runners on base. The splits werent as drastic this year, but he held batters to a .587 OPS with nobody on versus .715 with runners on and .735 with runners in scoring position. Batters also hit .339 and slugged .578 when putting the first pitch in play, so look for the Red Sox to be aggressive on first-pitch fastballs. -- SchoenfieldPlayer in the spotlightMookie Betts:?-- Speaking of fastballs, the potential AL MVP hit .328/.379/.581 against them, increasing his OPS 167 points from 2015. Betts had a big home/road split, with 49 extra-base hits at Fenway versus 29 on the road (although only three more home runs at home). Cleveland did play as a good home run park in 2016, so keep that in mind.?--?SchoenfieldWhat will decide tonights gameThe Indians success will likely hinge on one of the best pitches in baseball -- Corey Klubers curveball. Opponents hit .099 against his curve this season, the second-lowest opponents batting average against that pitch among starters who qualified for the ERA title. The pitch had the third-highest run value per 100 pitches (a stat charted on FanGraphs.com) of any pitch thrown regularly by anyone with at least 100 innings pitched last season (behind John Lackeys and Clayton Kershaws sliders).Klubers success with the pitch is predicated on getting hitters to chase it -- hes generated a 47 percent chase rate, best among starters. The two best hitters in the Red Sox lineup -- David Ortiz and Mookie Betts -- happen to be least likely among their regulars to chase a curveball from a righty. Betts fared well against Kluber this season (4-for-7 with a homer). Ortiz is 1-for-5 against Kluber this season, but does have two home runs in 16 at-bats against him.?--?ESPN Stats & InfoChoosing sides: Who will win?The Red Sox. Given David Prices postseason track record (0-7, 5.28 ERA in eight starts), Bostons starter doesnt inspire much confidence. But it was pretty clear in Game 1 that the Indians cant win if they dont use relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. After both threw 40 pitches Thursday night, its unclear how available they will be given the quick turnaround for Game 2. Short of a complete game from starter Corey Kluber, the Indians might not have the horses to get to Boston with a 2-0 series lead. -- Scott LauberThe Red Sox will take Game 2 after eventually forcing Corey Kluber to be removed and taking advantage of the Indians depleted bullpen to tie the series at one game each. The Red Sox could probably still win the series even with a loss Friday, but the Indians have been difficult to beat in three consecutive games all season; Boston would be wise to take care of business on Friday.?-- Andrew MarchandWhere the series standsTerry Francona may have used relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen for 40 pitches apiece in Game 1 -- season highs for both -- but he still has Bryan Shaw for Game 2, plus Dan Otero, who posted a 1.53 ERA this year. Even Miller should be available for a few batters, or at least to face David Ortiz in a big moment. Most importantly, the Indians are up in the series and hope to ride their ace to take the commanding lead.?--?Schoenfield Womens Salomon Shoes Nz . Once again Jordan Cieciwa (@FitCityJordan) and I (@LynchOnSports) go head to head in our picks. Last weekend at UFC Fight Night 32 my #TeamLynch got the best of #TeamJC by a score of 9-6. Let us know which side youre on for UFC 167 use the hashtag #TeamLynch or #TeamJC on Twitter. Salomon Shoes Nz Sale . John Lucas, signed as a mentor for rookie Trey Burke, showed he can score if required, scoring 12 points of his 16 points in the second quarter as Utah built an 18-point lead. http://www.discountsalomonnz.com/ . Traditional contenders Brazil, Greece and Turkey drew the other three spots to complete the 24-team field for this summers tournament in Spain, basketball governing body FIBA announced Saturday at its meeting in Barcelona. Cheap Salomon Shoes Nz . Philadelphia is 2-0 against the Senators this season and scored five goals in each victory. The Flyers recorded a 5-0 win in Ottawa on Nov. 12 and then earned a 5-2 home decision on Nov. 19. The Flyers have claimed three straight and four of the last five encounters with the Sens overall and Philly has won two in a row and three of its past four tests in Canadas capital city. Salomon Shoes Online Nz . -- Jakob Silfverberg is making himself right at home with the Anaheim Ducks, scoring four goals in his first four games. INDIANAPOLIS -- Jimmie Johnson has two victories this year, guaranteeing him a spot in the NASCAR postseason. He remains the only driver to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup in each of its 13 seasons.And yet the six-time Sprint Cup champion could really use a win.He hasnt run well. Thats putting it mildly. He has no top-10s in his past six races. Up next is Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a place where he has won four times, including three in championship seasons.If he ever raced at a track that could help boost his season, Johnson will race at one Sunday afternoon in the Brickyard 400.The magnitude of this race, in the red vest [Lowes paint scheme] car, the chance to tie Jeff [Gordon] as the winningest [driver at the Brickyard]?-- theres a lot of things to look to for motivation, Johnson said. But, man, it can honestly happen anywhere. Even at a road course.Johnson believes it is easier to run the Chase with some momentum but thats not a requirement to have a great Chase. Sometimes the Chase comes down to a simple part breaking, as what happened to Johnson last year at the end of the first round at Dover.So whats the big deal? Johnson said the big deal is the team hasnt had the speed.You could debate those results due to some crashes and stuff, but Im not trying to sugarcoat it at all, Johnson said. Were not where we want to be. Its been a couple of years since weve had the raw speed that we have grown accustomed to.There has been a lot of hard work and change that has gone on over the last three years, and were not stopping.The reason the team has put in so much work points to the realization that the answers arent readily available. The team tried a new short-track car for last week at New Hampshire, and it didnt perform as well as hoped. At least Johnson knows that when he returns there for the Chase.Based on history, we had some stuff weve been interested in trying and were like, Heck with it, lets try it, Johnson said.Unfortunately it didnt yield the success that we wanted. Now we know and we wont come back in the fall Saturday night [the night before the race] making a bad decision [on the setup].That was pretty indicative of how the season has gone for Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports as a whole. Johnson, in ninth, ranks best among Hendrick drivers in the standings this year.Unfortunately were not having the instant change that we would all hoope we would find, Johnson said.dddddddddddd Honestly, it tells us its not one thing. Its a lot of small things.I feel like the Chevrolet body, its the same one that was on the car when the SS started [in 2013] and hopefully we can get a little help there [from NASCAR]. I know the other manufacturers have had multiple changes.Any hopes of Chevrolet body changes wont come until next year. As far as the now, Johnson hopes that having Jeff Gordon substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr. will provide a small benefit in a hugely negative situation.He believes Gordon might not only be able to see what is causing the issues, but also whether they need commitment from management to make some drastic changes, Gordon now can speak from the experience of being inside the car.As connected as he can be in literally living it and going into a management meeting or some kind of office meeting and be able to sit there with all honesty and a fresh opinion and say, Yeah, this is what we need to do, I think is helpful, Johnson said.Johnson compared it to being like Denver Broncos general manager John Elway getting back in the huddle.He is a huge, huge asset in being a former player but its been a while since hes been in the huddle, Johnson said. You look at Gordon evolving into that role potentially at Hendrick Motorsports, and, Oh by the way, I just played one of the biggest games of the year.He comes back in the room and has a fresh perspective.Team owner Rick Hendrick said his shop has become a salvage yard with wrecked cars. He hopes that Gordon can give Johnson and the rest a lift.Ive been doing this long enough that you cant stay on top forever, Hendrick said. You have to work hard to get back. And I think weve made a lot of improvements.I think well see some, hopefully, this weekend.That doesnt mean Johnson wants to see Gordon beat him to the finish line. Johnson needs that win. Hed get into Gordon -- or Earnhardt for that matter -- if he had to for the win.Which driver would Johnson rough up more?Thats a tough one, Johnson said with a laugh. Maybe Id feel bad if I had to put a fender to Junior because he doesnt have a Brickyard yet and Jeff has got five.It would be a little easier to lean on Jeff than Junior. ... Im in trouble either way. ' ' '