The Major League Baseball pennant race is coming into focus, and the American League East-leading Red Sox and the AL Central-leading Indians are pulling away from their divisions with enormous leads. Though Boston and Cleveland just lost aces Chris Sale and Trevor Bauer to the disabled list, power sluggers J.D.
The Major League Baseball pennant race is coming into focus, and the American League East-leading Red Sox and the AL Central-leading Indians are pulling away from their divisions with enormous leads. Though Boston and Cleveland just lost aces Chris Sale and Trevor Bauer to the disabled list, power sluggers J.D. Martinez (38 home runs) and Jose Ramirez (37 homers) show no signs of fatigue. These storied franchises met for the first time this season to open a four-game series at Fenway Park on Monday, with Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. ET tilt available to watch for free on MLB.TV.
The four-game set is a potential preview of what the AL Championship Series could look like in October, a memento of many meetings between the kindred spirits. The Red Sox went to Cleveland to start the AL Division Series in 1995, marking the first time the clubs played each other in postseason competition. Boston and Cleveland have met in playoff battle five times in the 50 years of expanded divisional play. But the Indians hold a 14-8 lead against the Red Sox in postseason play, including a three-game sweep in the 2016 ALDS when the two last met in the playoffs.
• Indians-Red Sox: Wednesday's MLB.TV free game of the day
And since the Red Sox and Indians share a remarkable history, we answer the question: Who are the best players to play for both franchises?
1. Manny Ramirez, OF
You can't do much more than what Ramirez did for the cities of Boston and Cleveland. The 12-time All Star played eight seasons for each club, logging more than 7,400 at-bats in that span. Ramirez holds the homer mark among athletes that played for both Boston and Cleveland. In 1,083 games for the Red Sox, Ramirez hit .312 with 274 homers and 868 RBIs -- earning the AL batting title in 2002 and the World Series Most Valuable Player Award in '04. Ramirez batted .313 with 236 homers and 804 RBIs over 967 games for the Indians -- finishing second in voting for the AL Rookie of the Year Award behind Bob Hamelin in 1994. Ramirez left the Indians to sign with the Red Sox as a free agent in December 2000.
2. Cy Young, RHP
Denton True "Cy" Young pitched for five teams during his 22-year MLB career, including seasons with the Red Sox and Indians. Among pitchers who played for both clubs, Young holds the most wins for Boston (192) and ranks 14th in wins for Cleveland (28). The Hall of Famer and Triple Crown winner registered a 2.00 ERA with nine saves over 327 games (2,728 1/3 innings) with the Red Sox. Young went 29-29 with a 2.50 ERA over 63 games (504 innings) with the Indians. Young was traded by the Red Sox to the Cleveland Naps in a three-player deal in 1909.
3. Tris Speaker, OF
The left-handed hitter garnered the eighth-most home runs for Cleveland among players who donned both Indians and Red Sox jerseys. Speaker left his mark on both clubs, slugging 39 homers and swiping 267 bags for Boston in nine seasons -- including 53 doubles and a 1.031 OPS in his 1912 AL MVP Award-winning season. The eventual Hall of Famer was traded by the Red Sox to Cleveland for Sad Sam Jones and Fred Thomas, plus $55,000 in April of 1916.
4. Dennis Eckersley, RHP
Boston: 1978-84, '98
Now NESN's part-time color commentator, Eckersley was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2004, exemplifying success as both a starter and closer. The 1992 AL Cy Young Award winner is one of two players in MLB history to have both a 20-win and a 50-save season in a career. Eck won the AL Rookie of the Year for the Indians in 1975, compiling a 13-7 record and a 2.60 ERA. The Indians traded Eckersly to the Red Sox as a part of a six-player deal in in 1978. Eck won a career-high 20 games in '78 and 17 games in '79, with a 2.99 ERA each year.
5. Luis Tiant, RHP
Tiant finished in the Top 3 in wins among pitchers who played for both the Red Sox and Indians. The right-hander was the AL ERA leader in 1968 and '72 -- earning an ERA title for each club. Tiant was the AL leader in shutouts in '66 and '68 for Cleveland, and once again in '74 for Boston. The Cuban ballplayer became a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997, but was shorted votes in his second bid as a Hall of Fame candidate in 2014.
6. Victor Martinez, DH/1B/C
V-Mart crushed 103 homers over 821 games for the Indians during eight seasons in Cleveland -- the fifth most for the Indians among players who competed for both franchises. Martinez was signed by the Indians as an amateur free agent in 1996, and was named the club's Minor League Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons before debuting as a September callup in 2002. Martinez was sent to Boston at the Trade Deadline in 2009 as part of a three-player deal. His combined totals for the '09 season (for Cleveland and Boston) feature a .303 batting average, 23 homers, 108 RBIs and a career-high 75 walks.
7. Wes Ferrell, RHP/PH
Ferrell holds the most wins for Cleveland (102) among pitchers who played for both franchises. The two-time All-Star's 37 home runs as a batter remain a career record for an MLB pitcher. Ferrell established himself as the Indians' ace, capping his career in Cleveland with 12 saves and a 3.67 ERA over 195 games (1,321 1/3 innings). The Indians traded Ferrell to Boston in 1934, and a year later he compiled league-leading totals with 25 wins and 31 complete games for the Red Sox.
8. Coco Crisp, OF
Cleveland: 2002-05, '16
Covelli Loyce "Coco" Crisp slugged 37 and 21 homers for the Indians and Red Sox, respectively. That's impressive considering Crisp was known for his heroics in center field, magnified by his speed. Crisp swiped 35 bags over his last two seasons for Cleveland, and stole 70 bases in his three years for Boston. Primarily a replacement center fielder and leadoff hitter after Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees in 2006, Crisp held lead Boston to a World Series championship in '07 over the Rockies.
9. Andrew Miller, LHP
The Marlins traded Miller to the Red Sox in 2010 under then-Red Sox manager and current Indians skipper Terry Francona's supervision. In 2012, Miller limited left-handed batters to a .149 average, the lowest average by a Red Sox southpaw since 1974. Boston sent Miller to the Orioles at the Trade Deadline in 2014. After completing the season in Baltimore, the lefty spent the 2015 season with the Yankees. New York traded him to the Indians at the Trade Deadline in 2016, and Miller was instrumental in Cleveland's 2016 postseason run, earning the ALCS MVP Award for his efforts. Still offering relief out of the Indians' bullpen, Miller holds a 1.84 ERA with six saves and 171 strikeouts over 107 games (112 2/3 innings) through his three seasons with the club.
10. Terry Francona, OF/1B/PH/MANAGER
Though Tito never played for the Red Sox, he's the skipper responsible for ending Boston's 86-year World Series championship drought. In '16, as Cleveland's manager, Francona led the Indians to an AL pennant to secure a spot on this list. Before his managerial magic, Francona helped the Expos win the 1981 National League Division Series over the Phillies, pinch-hitting and patrolling left field. Francona was released after the '85 season, becoming a journeyman with the Cubs, Reds and Indians before completing his MLB career with the Brewers. After four seasons as the Phillies' manager from 1997-2000, the Red Sox hired Francona to manage their club in 2004. He led Boston to a pair of World Series titles in 2004 and '07. Tito was hired as the Indians' manager in 2012.
Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.