Weather Will Be No Issue as Indians Play Rays
Bob Toth | On 12, Apr 2016
If one thing feels certain about Cleveland’s series in Tampa Bay against the Rays the next three days, it is that the Indians should actually be able to get a full series in for the first time in three tries this season.
Expecting some sort of disaster to interfere with more Tribe games this week? Maybe the Tropicana Field roof tears apart? Massive plumbing related issue? Sudden hurricane? Those catwalks overhead become a safety risk to the fans and players below?
If those thoughts have crossed your mind at all, congratulations, that’s the Clevelander in you.
The Indians (2-2) split their opening series against the Boston Red Sox last week, with one game left to be made up at a date to be determined. They brought the bad weather with them to Chicago and saw a repeat performance against the White Sox, where they played two games in suspect weather and saw the cancellation of the rubber match. The two clubs split the pair, with the Indians spoiling the White Sox’s home opener, 7-1, while Chicago won the middle game by a 7-3 final as the Indians bullpen blew a late lead.
After splitting a four-game series with Toronto to start the season, the Rays (2-4) visited their division rival Orioles at their home in Baltimore for a three-game series. The middle game was postponed like so many others this season, but they did play a pair against the O’s and dropped 6-1 and 5-3 finals in the bookend games.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Tuesday, 4/12, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (0-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. LHP Matt Moore (0-0, 5.40)
Wednesday, 4/13, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-0, 7.20) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (0-1, 6.75)
Thursday, 4/14, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Danny Salazar (1-0, 1.69) vs. RHP Chris Archer (0-2, 7.20)
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all games); Fox Sports Sun (Tuesday and Wednesday)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WDAE 620 AM/95.3 FM (Tampa)
The Indians have been the master of the Rays’ domain over the years, owning a 38-31 record in Tampa in addition to a 46-23 mark when playing in Cleveland for an all-time 84-54 advantage.
The scales have evened over the last half dozen years, but the Indians still took five of seven from the Rays last season. After dropping two of three at Progressive Field in mid-June, they bounced back and swept the club at the end of the month and the first two days of July, outscoring them 26-8 while flirting three times with no-hitters.
Michael Brantley (LF) – 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 25) – recovery from right shoulder surgery; beginning rehab assignment
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 28) – left wrist impingement; on rehab assignment
Tommy Hunter (RP) – 15-day disabled list (April 4) – recovery from offseason core muscle surgery; on rehab assignment
Josh Martin (RP) – returned the Rule 5 selection to Cleveland; will report to Columbus
James Ramsey (OF) – traded to Los Angeles Dodgers for cash considerations April 10
Giovanni Soto (RP) – traded to Chicago Cubs for cash considerations April 11
Zach Walters (OF) – traded to Los Angeles Dodgers for cash considerations April 10
Brad Boxberger (CL) – 15-day disabled list – recovery from March 2016 groin surgery
Alex Cobb (SP) – 15-day disabled list – recovery from May 2015 Tommy John surgery
Chase Whitley (P) – 60-day disabled list – recovery from May 2015 Tommy John surgery
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Corey Dickerson has been the shining star of the new additions to the St. Petersburg area through the first week of the season. He is tied for the team lead with three homers, which have accounted for all three of his RBI. Steve Pearce is hitting .273 in four games after coming over from Baltimore.
Hank Conger, Brad Miller, and Logan Morrison have not looked good in their initial opportunities with the Rays. Conger is hugging the Mendoza line, hitting .200 with two singles and a walk to his credit in six games. Miller has played in five games and has just a double and two walks and is hitting .059. Morrison slots in even lower than his former Mariners teammate Miller, hitting .056 (1-for-18) with a single, a walk, and eight strikeouts.
The Rays are operating with a four-man rotation to begin the season with their schedule and unexpected off day this past Saturday in Baltimore. In addition to the three pitchers Tampa is throwing this week against the Tribe, they have also used Jake Odorizzi twice and he has looked the best of the four thus far. The rotation so far is 0-4 in six starts with a 5.67 ERA, .289 batting average against, and 1.47 WHIP. Their 42 strikeouts from starters is the top mark in the American League, with seven per start and 11.34 per nine innings. By comparison, the Indians rotation is 1-1 with a 4.57 ERA, .270 average against, and 1.48 WHIP in four starts and has struck out 19 batters in 21 2/3 innings.
Tampa’s bullpen has picked up the slack, posting the second-best ERA in the AL with a 1.45 mark and a league-best 0.75 WHIP in six games.
Right fielder Steven Souza Jr. is off to a good start in his second season with the Rays. He is hitting .381 through the first week of play with a double, three homers, and five RBI. On the plus side for the Indians hard-throwing, typically-high strikeout pitching staff, he has also struck out eight times in his first 21 at bats.
HOLDING ALL THE CARDS
While Archer has elevated his status to one of the top pitchers in the AL, he has had no luck against the Indians, who drafted him in the fifth round in the 2006 draft. In three starts, he has been dealt the loss in all three with a 5.40 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. His 6.5 strikeout/nine rate is the third fewest of the 21 opponents he has faced in his career. Moore and Smyly are each 2-1, but have ERAs over four, in their respective lifetime efforts.
FIGHTING THE COLD
Several Indians have refused to let the awful weather get in the way of hot starts to their season. Jose Ramirez leads the club with a .385 average in three games with a double, four singles, and an RBI. Francisco Lindor has played in all four games and has five singles in 15 at bats (.333) and has drawn a pair of walks. Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana are each 4-for-14 (.286). Kipnis has three singles, a double, two walks, two runs, and two RBI to his credit. Santana has two singles, two walks, a double, a homer, two runs scored, and five RBI to his.
RETURNING TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
Carrasco’s start on Wednesday will be his first against Tampa since his near no-no on July 1st last season, when he came within one strike of delivering the Indians their first no-hitter since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981. The Tribe right-hander gave up a single that just cleared the glove of a fully extended Kipnis at second base to Joey Butler, now a member of Cleveland’s 40-man roster and current farmhand at Triple-A Columbus.
RIDE THE WINNING STREAK
The Indians have won five straight contests against the Rays dating back to June 21st of last season. They have won five straight at Tropicana Field as well, dating back to May 11th of 2014.
The Indians will return home to better weather as they play their first Interleague series of the season against the reigning National League champion New York Mets on Friday from Progressive Field. The Rays will continue their six-game homestand as they host the Chicago White Sox.
Photo: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara