Series Preview #25: Cleveland Indians (33-41) at Tampa Bay Rays (42-35)

This weekend could be the precursor to a very difficult road trip.

The Cleveland Indians (33-41) were bashed this weekend, had to deal with a rainout Saturday, got into Tampa Bay much later in the night than anticipated because of the need for the second game Sunday, and on shorter rest and jetlagged, will get to play on turf for the first time this season against the first place Tampa Bay Rays. If that were not bad enough, they will deal with the Rays for four straight before heading to Pittsburgh for three more over the holiday weekend against the second place Pirates, who are nine games above .500 entering play Monday night.

A really famous guy once said, “In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned.” The Indians are going to have to work really, really hard to earn some wins over the next week.

The Indians were disassembled over the weekend and hopefully have hit rock bottom, as frustrations mounted from the players to ejected manager Terry Francona. The O’s needed just three pitches to three batters from reliever Marc Rzepczynski in the bottom of the eighth to break up a 3-3 tie in a 4-3 win. Baltimore used three long balls to defeat the Indians, 4-0, in the first of two games on Sunday. A six-run fourth inning gave the Orioles plenty of cushion in the nightcap as the team rolled to a sweep with an 8-0 victory.

The Rays (42-35) lost two of three to the last place Boston Red Sox in three close games. Boston won 4-3 in ten innings on Friday night at St. Pete, getting the game-winning hit from Brock Holt off of reliever Steve Geltz. Tampa won the middle game, 4-1, as three home runs pushed all four runs across for the Rays on the afternoon. Chris Archer was tagged for five runs on five hits in six innings, despite striking out ten, as three long balls helped to power the Red Sox past the likely All-Star team member, who the Indians will once again manage to avoid in a series this year.


Monday, 6/29, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Cody Anderson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Nate Karns (4-3, 3.28)

It will be the second start in Anderson’s career and his second straight against the Rays. He was rained out of his previously scheduled start on Saturday against Baltimore. Karns earned the win earlier this month against Cleveland, allowing one run on six hits in five and one-third innings.

Tuesday, 6/30, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Danny Salazar (6-3, 4.06) vs. RHP Erasmo Ramirez (6-2, 4.23)

Tuesday will mark the first time in his career that Salazar has faced the Rays in the regular season. He is just 1-2 in four June starts with a 4.70 ERA. Ramirez is 3-1 with a 2.65 ERA in nine games at Tropicana Field this season, including five games as a starter. He left his last start, also against the Indians, with tightness in his right groin. He had held Cleveland to two hits and had struck out three in the first three innings.

Wednesday, 7/1, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (9-6, 4.16) vs. RHP Alex Colome (3-3, 4.50)

Carrasco is 1-3 in his career with a 3.33 ERA in five games, including four starts, against the Rays. Despite the bad record, his ERA against Tampa is his fourth-best against any American League opponent. He has limited the Rays biggest offensive weapon, Evan Longoria, to two hits in 13 plate appearances with five strikeouts. One of the two hits was a home run. Colome will look to continue his impressive run over the Indians. He took a perfect game late into his last start against them and gave up just one hit in seven innings in a no-decision. He walked a season-high five in his most recent start.

Thursday, 7/2, 12:10 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (3-9, 3.66) vs. LHP Matt Moore (season debut)

Kluber was dealt a loss by the Rays for the first time in his career in his start against them two weeks ago. He won his lone start at Tropicana Field in his career, striking out nine batters in six and one-third innings of work. Moore, who recently celebrated his 26th birthday, is scheduled to be activated from the 60-day disabled list after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last April.


The series will be aired on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Sun Sports. STO will broadcast all four games, while Sun Sports will show just the first three games of the series. Radio calls will be available on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Rays Radio Network.


TEAM                    W-L        PCT        GB          WCGB   STREAK
Kansas City         44-28     .611         –               –           W4
Minnesota          40-35     .533        5.5            0.5           L1
Detroit                 39-36     .520        6.5           1.5         W2
Cleveland            33-41     .446        12.0          7.0        L3
Chicago                32-42     .432       13.0         8.0         L2


Cleveland holds the second-best record against Tampa of all American League opponents. The Indians are 80-54 in 134 contests all-time, including a 34-31 record on the Rays home field.

The Rays won two of three matchups in Cleveland this season, with Karns and Xavier Cedeno pulling wins over Carrasco and Kluber. The Indians won two of three last May against the Rays at Tropicana Field, even though they were outscored in the series, 15-13.


Scott Atchison (RP) – released after clearing waivers (June 28)
Gavin Floyd
(SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right elbow surgery in March
Toru Murata (SP) – recalled as 26th man for doubleheader; returned to Columbus (June 28)
Nick Swisher (DH) – 15-day disabled list (June 13) – left knee inflammation
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 10) – right shoulder surgery

Tampa Bay:
Matt Andriese (SP) – optioned to Triple-A Durham (June 28)
Tim Beckham (2B) – optioned to Triple-A Durham (June 27)
Jeff Beliveau (RP) – 60-day disabled list (April 22) – left shoulder soreness
Andrew Bellatti (P) – 15-day disabled list (June 10) – right shoulder tendinitis
Alex Cobb (SP) – 60-day disabled list (May 9) – recovery from May 2015 Tommy John surgery
John Jaso (C) – 60-day disabled list (April 27) – left wrist contusion
Desmond Jennings (CF) – 60-day disabled list (June 28) – June 2015 left knee surgery
James Loney (1B) – 15-day disabled list (May 25) – fractured left middle finger
Matt Moore (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – recovery from April 2014 Tommy John surgery
Jake Odorizzi (SP) – 15-day disabled list (June 6) – left oblique strain
Erasmo Ramirez (SP) – day-to-day – right groin strain
Grady Sizemore (OF) – recalled from Class-A Charlotte (June 28)
Burch Smith (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 8) – recovery from April 2015 Tommy John surgery
Drew Smyly (SP) – 60-day disabled list (May 13) – torn left labrum


The doubleheader sweep was the first for the Tribe in September of 1975, when the deed was done to them by the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park.

The 20-game hitting streak for Jason Kipnis came to an end in game one of Sunday’s doubleheader. He was held hitless in the nightcap, marking the first time he has gone hitless in consecutive games since April 14th through 17th, when he went three straight games without a hit, and were just the second and third games in the month of June that he has not had at least one hit.

Francisco Lindor and Kipnis each have two hits in three career at bats against Karns.

Giovanny Urshela has now hit in a career-high seven straight games.

The Rays hit four home runs the last time the two clubs met. In addition to a shot from Longoria, former Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had one, as did Steven Souza Jr. and Joey Butler. Butler had three hits in total in the series in ten at bats. He had two singles, two walks, stole a base, and scored twice. He is hitting .315 this season in 48 games.

Logan Forsythe was 6-for-11 in the last series against Cleveland with six singles, yet somehow did not score any of the Rays’ eight runs in the series. He is hitting .297 on the season with eight home runs and 32 RBI, each of which are the second-highest totals for the club this year.


A familiar face made his Rays’ debut on Sunday.

Grady Sizemore, signed June 15th by the Rays after he was cut loose from the Philadelphia Phillies organization on June 1st, was recalled from Class-A Charlotte and was inserted into the Tampa lineup in the second spot while playing designated hitter. He responded with three hits in five trips to the plate, including an RBI-single in the seventh to score Cabrera.

The 32-year-old Sizemore started the season with the Phillies, but was hitting .245 through 39 games and was released as part of Philadelphia’s youth movement. He played 60 games for the club the previous season, hitting .253 with three homers and a dozen RBI in 60 games after starting the year with 52 games for the Boston Red Sox.

He is reunited in Tampa with his former hitting coach in Cleveland, Derek Shelton.

Former Indians bullpen coach and current Rays manager indicated that while he will play Sizemore in the outfield, he will be mostly used as a DH.

“I still feel like I’m recovering from all those lost years and all those injuries,” Sizemore said following Sunday’s game. “And I just want a chance to play. I want to keep playing. And try and get stronger and get better and see what’s left.”


The Indians will head to Pittsburgh to start an interleague series with the Pirates over the Fourth of July weekend. The Rays will head north up the coast to the Big Apple, where they will play the Yankees in three straight over the weekend.

Photo: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

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