Rays Score Four in 8th to Win Pitchers’ Duel; Rays 5, Indians 1
Bob Toth | On 12, Apr 2016
The final score may not have looked like it, but a pitchers’ duel at Tropicana Field took place on before Tampa blasted a pair of two-run homers in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 5-1 final from the Tribe on Tuesday night.
A well-pitched game came down to the eighth inning with the game knotted at one run each. Cleveland’s Corey Kluber took the mound for his eighth inning of work and got a fly out from Steven Souza Jr. before a walk of Kevin Kiermaier. Hank Conger went down swinging, but Kiermaier stole second on the play in an attempt that was reviewed by the crew chief but upheld. Kluber quickly got ahead of Logan Forsythe before three straight balls loaded the count. On the decisive pitch, Forsythe hit a no-doubter to left-center to plate a pair and give the Rays a 3-1 lead.
Cody Allen took the mound in relief and walked Logan Morrison on five pitches and went full to Evan Longoria, who took a page out of Forsythe’s book and parked a home run over Jose Ramirez in left to rip the game open, 5-1. Alex Colome closed the door on the Tribe in the top of the ninth, retiring Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli, and Carlos Santana in order to secure the W.
“There was no wiggle room. He got a 3-2 count to Forsythe and tried to throw a four-seamer away and got it up and caught too much of the plate,” said Indians manager Terry Francona of Kluber’s outing. “For seven innings, he made it stand up. That’s a hard way to pitch, but we’ll take that outing.”
The Rays improve to 3-4 on the season, including 3-2 at home. The loss for the Indians drops them to 2-3 on the year and just 1-2 away from Progressive Field.
The final score sullied an otherwise well-pitched game for Kluber, who once again was victimized by the ineffectiveness of his teammates to score runs for him while he is on the mound. He worked seven and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs on four hits, striking out six, and walking a pair. He also hit one batter in his first outing as a 30-year-old.
The Rays’ Matt Moore kept the Indians at bay all day long, working seven innings of one-run baseball. He struck out five, walked one, and gave up five hits on the night.
“He’s got easy velocity. He’s running it up there pretty good and it’s a nice easy motion,” shared Francona postgame. “He’s always had that. And now, he’s back a year removed from that Tommy John and you can see him coming back.”
LINDOR LEAVING THE YARD
The Tribe’s young star Lindor took Moore deep to straightaway center field to lead off the fourth inning for Cleveland. After taking a strike, he cleared the fence at the deepest portion of Tropicana Field for his first homer and RBI of the season.
MORE ON KLUBER
With the exception of a first inning single through a heavily-shifted infield by Longoria, Kluber did not allow another hit by a Rays player until the seventh. With two outs in the inning and again working in a 3-2 count, Corey Dickerson doubled to left and came around to score on a single to left-center from Desmond Jennings to tie the game.
RAKE LIKE A RAY
Forsythe’s homer to give the Rays the lead in the eighth extended their club record to 21 consecutive games with at least one home run. Tampa is 12-9 in those ball games.
A LITTLE SUPPORT NEVER HURTS
All of the Indians’ little offensive support came from the heart of the order. Lindor was 2-for-4 with a single, homer, and scored Cleveland’s only run. Napoli singled after the Lindor homer but was erased on a deep fly out by Santana to left while trying to tag up and move to second on the play. Yan Gomes doubled three pitches later, which may have, at the least, moved Napoli to third if not across home plate. Gomes also singled in the second.
GIVE THE MAN SOME RUNS…
Kluber made 32 starts in 2015. The Indians lost 21 of those games (with Kluber getting the L in 16 of them). In 14 of the 21 lost games, Cleveland scored two runs or less.
The Tribe also scored two runs for Kluber in four of the team’s eleven wins when he started.
“He’s a smart kid. He knows. He can’t hit,” said Francona of Kluber’s lack of run support again. “You start worrying about things like that…you think each game is its own game, and you pitch according to the scoreboards. He does that very well.”
DOWN ON THE FARM
Michael Brantley made his season debut for the Columbus Clippers on Tuesday night to start his rehab assignment. Batting second and starting in left field for the Clippers, Brantley doubled in his first AB of the season on a liner to left. He would score two batters later as Lonnie Chisenhall‘s sacrifice fly would knock him home to tie the game at one.
Brantley popped up in his second at bat to short and was replaced defensively in the top of the fifth by Joey Butler, who would hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the frame to cap a four-run inning and give the game its final 5-1 score.
Chisenhall was 0-for-2 with a walk, strikeout, and the sacrifice fly in his second rehab start of the year.
Left-hander Drew Smyly (0-1, 6.75 ERA) will toe the rubber in the middle game of the three-game series for the Rays on Wednesday night. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (0-0, 7.20 ERA) will oppose for the Indians.
First pitch from the Trop is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photos: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara