Year after year, the Tampa Bay Rays seem to find themselves with a light payroll, a young and overproducing roster, and a fight for a playoff berth. This season is no different, as despite a heavily contested battle atop the American League East, the Rays are lurking in the shadows of the American League’s Wild Card picture.
The Indians (60-51) will head to the Trop in St. Pete to take on the perennial playoff challenger, one who stood in the way for Cleveland in 2013, for a four-game series beginning Thursday night. The Tribe’s offense has stumbled in the last few games and the team found itself in a bit of a predicament at the plate, but, despite the woes, they were able to pick off a game during their two-game series split with the Colorado Rockies during the week to wrap up a 3-3 homestand. They split a four-game set with the New York Yankees last weekend.
The Rays (58-57) continue to fight for their Wild Card lives in a packed race in the American League. Tampa Bay enters the series with the Tribe one game in back of the second spot, trailing the New York Yankees (60-52) by three and a half games and the Seattle Mariners (59-56) by one game. They dropped both games in their short series this week with the Boston Red Sox to fall further off of the pace and are now 4-4 in the month of August.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Thursday, 8/10, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Danny Salazar (4-5, 4.32 ERA) vs. LHP Blake Snell (0-6, 4.98)
Salazar has been just what the Indians needed since returning from the disabled list for his start on July 22 against Toronto, nearly two months after making his previous start. Despite taking a pair of no-decisions, he did his part to keep the Indians in the game, allowing three runs and eight hits combined over his 20 innings of work. In his last start against the Yankees on August 5, he allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings of work while striking out a season-high 12 batters. He has faced the Rays in each of the last three seasons, earning two wins and a loss. His last start on May 16 of this season was his worst of the three as he allowed five runs on six hits with two walks and nine strikeouts in five innings of work.
Snell has not earned a win this season, but has just one loss since returning to the Rays rotation. He has allowed three runs in each of his last four starts, but longer outings have evaded him as in three of his last four starts he has failed to get out of the sixth inning. He has faced the Indians once in his career, taking a loss last season in a quality start when he allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits in six and two thirds innings.
Friday, 8/11, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (10-5, 4.06) vs. RHP Jacob Faria (5-2, 2.81)
Carrasco looks to end a five-start winless streak on the mound for the Indians after being one of the most reliable arms in the rotation for much of the first half of the season. The results of his last outing were a bit deceiving as the final line varied greatly from his efforts for much of the contest. After looking unhittable at times early against the Yankees on August 6, he got hit late, ultimately giving up five runs on six hits with six strikeouts in five and two-thirds innings. His last win came over a month ago, when he won his fifth straight decision on the mound, a season-high. He is 3-3 in his career against the Rays with a 3.23 ERA. He lasted just three and two-thirds innings in a no-decision against them back in May.
Faria has burst onto the scene with a solid debut showing for the Rays since being called up to make his Major League debut on June 7. After a strong June, he went 2-1 in July but had a couple of shorter starts to his credit. His last time out against Milwaukee on August 4, he worked six innings and gave up just one run on four hits while striking out nine, but took a tough-luck loss to the Brewers. The 24-year-old has yet to face the Indians in his career.
Saturday, 8/12, 6:10 PM ET – RHP Mike Clevinger (5-4, 4.00) vs. RHP Chris Archer (8-6, 3.80)
Clevinger for a stretch was making the notion of sending him back to the minors to make room for Salazar’s return from the disabled list to a crowded rotation an impossible thought to digest. While several arms in the rotation have stepped up since, Clevinger has had a tough time in each of his last two starts, coming at the end of July. He took the loss in Boston on July 31, giving up five runs on seven hits with four walks in just three innings. He allowed six runs in his previous four and one-third innings against the club that drafted him, the Angels. With off days in the schedule, he had been in the bullpen, but he will return to the rotation for Saturday’s start. He has not started against the Rays in his brief big league career, but faced them once in relief, striking out the only batter that he faced.
When Archer pitches against the club that drafted and developed him before trading him to the Chicago Cubs, he generally has a bad time. He was tagged for seven runs (six earned) on five hits with six walks in five innings back in May in earning his sixth straight loss to the Indians in six career opportunities dating back to 2013. He was an All-Star this season for the second time in three years. He has been able to ease the burden of the Rays bullpen all season long – he has completed six innings on the mound in all but three starts this season and in 15 straight, with the latter dating back to his mid-May start against Cleveland.
Sunday, 8/13, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (10-3, 2.65) vs. RHP Austin Pruitt (6-3, 5.14)
Kluber has been pitching at a level that makes him almost…machine-like…a robot, if you will. Since returning from the disabled list on June 1, he has made 13 starts and posted a 7-1 record with a 1.70 ERA over 95 1/3 innings of work with 142 strikeouts and 15 walks. Opposing hitters are batting .166 against him during this stretch of eleven quality starts in 13 opportunities. While he went just 1-1 in July despite allowing just ten runs in the month, he has been almost unhittable in August. In two starts, he has thrown back-to-back complete games, allowing an identical one run on three hits with both of the runs coming on solo homers. He struck out eleven in each contest and has made 13 consecutive starts with eight strikeouts or more, one of just three pitchers to ever do so.
The 27-year-old Pruitt began the season in the Rays bullpen but has worked as a starter of late. He earned a 5-1 record in relief with one hold and one save before moving into the rotation for each of his last three appearances. Since working as a starter, he has taken two losses in three outings, but the last two in August have been quality efforts. He threw six and one-third innings of five-hit scoreless baseball against Houston on August 2 and followed it up with six innings of one-run baseball against Boston on August 8. He has not faced the Indians through his first 21 big league games.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); Fox Sports Sun (all); MLB Network (8/10, out-of-market only)
Radio (all) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WDAE 620 AM/95.3 FM (Tampa Bay)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NEWS
Cody Anderson (SP) – out for season – right elbow surgery
Michael Brantley (LF) – 10-day disabled list (8/9) – right ankle sprain
Jay Bruce (RF) – acquired in a trade with the New York Mets (8/9)
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (7/9) – right calf strain
Perci Garner (RP) – re-signed to a minor league deal (8/10)
Erik Gonzalez (UTL) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (8/9)
Boone Logan (RP) – 60-day disabled list (7/20) – left lat muscle
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/2) – right knee patellar tendinitis
Daniel Robertson (OF) – designated for assignment (8/10)
Ryder Ryan (MiLB RP) – traded to the New York Mets (8/9)
Josh Tomlin (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/31) – left hamstring
Matt Andriese (P) – 60-day disabled list (6/11) – right hip strain
Xavier Cedeno (RP) – 60-day disabled list (4/18) – left forearm tightness
Alex Cobb (SP) – 10-day disabled list (8/8) – right big toe turf toe
Matt Duffy (3B) – 60-day disabled list (4/1) – recovery from September 2016 left Achilles surgery
Nathan Eovaldi (SP) – 60-day disabled list (3/8) – recovery from August 2016 Tommy John surgery
Kevin Gadea (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – elbow
Kevin Kiermaier (CF) – 60-day disabled list (6/9) – hairline fracture in right hip; on rehab assignment
Jake Odorizzi (SP) – activated from 10-day disabled list (8/9)
Blake Snell (SP) – recalled from Triple-A Durham (8/8)
Ryne Stanek (P) – optioned to Triple-A Durham (8/9)
Shawn Tolleson (RP) – 60-day disabled list (3/31) – recovery from May 2017 Tommy John surgery
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Indians will head back to Boston after the series concludes to play a one-game makeup game with the Red Sox before bouncing halfway across the country for a series against the Minnesota Twins. With their nine-game homestand wrapped up, the Rays will head north of the border to Toronto to play four big games with the Blue Jays before returning home for another six-game homestand with even bigger repercussions as Seattle and Toronto both come to Tropicana Field.
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