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Following the freezing temperatures in Baltimore, the Rays came home to welcome in the Cleveland Indians who have had about as odd a start to their season as any team in baseball, having played just four games due to weather up in Ohio. With the postponed game against the Orioles on Saturday, the Rays had to shuffle their rotation a bit pushing off Drew Smyly’s start from Saturday to Wednesday v the Indians and moving the inevitable need for a fifth starter to the weekend series against the White Sox.
After splitting the opening series of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rays looked to get back over the .500 mark at Tropicana Field on this brief six-game home stand against the AL Central.
Rays 5 Indians 1
It was the Moore/Kluber Show for most of the ballgame. A matchup of the 2014 AL Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber, with a man just a year removed from recovering from Tommy John surgery in Matt Moore. Despite a solo home run to lead off the 4th inning off the bat of Indian’s 22-year old short stop, Francisco Lindor, Moore dominated through seven full innings giving up just five hits and striking out five and throwing 104 pitches. Kluber was equally as dominate until the seventh inning when Desmond Jennings finally broke the scoreboard and tied the game with an RBI single scoring Kevin Kiermaier who’d just stole second base after being hit by a pitch. The Rays would break out the lumber in the eighth and finally chase Kluber after Logan Forsythe crushed a 2-run home run over the right field wall to put the Rays ahead 3-1. Evan Longoria added his second bomb of the season two batters later after a walk to Logan Morrison for a final score of 5-1. Tampa’s bullpen continued their hot start as Xavier Cedeno and Alex Colome would close out the final two innings with Cedeno picking up his first win of the season.
WP: Cedeno (1-0) LP: Kluber (0-2)
Indians 4 Rays 1
While, once again, the Rays got on the board late after a second-consecutive dominant performance by their starter – it wasn’t enough as Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was just a bit better than Rays lefty Drew Smyly. It was also, once again, the “one inning” bug that bit the Rays as three of the four runs scored by Cleveland were in the top of the fourth inning thanks to a failed double play and an error by Logan Forsythe. Erasmo Ramirez would give up a solo home run to Jason Kipnis in the eighth inning to make it a 4-0 ballgame before Curt Casali’s double in the bottom of the inning finally scored Kevin Kiermaier and got the Rays on the board too little too late. Smyly would set a career high in strikeouts, fanning 11 Indian hitters over seven strong innings for the Rays.
WP: Carrasco (1-0) LP: Smyly (0-2) SV: Allen (2)
Indians 6 Rays 0
It was a game that didn’t quite have the quick pace of the first couple despite being scoreless into the fifth inning. Rays Chris Archer was looking to snap a winless streak of 8 straight starts going back to last season. Meanwhile, Indians starter, Danny Salazar, was hoping to improve on his already solid start to the 2016 season. Both pitchers would go toe to toe into the middle innings before Cleveland broke the scoreless tie thanks to some erratic defense by the Rays. Fracisco Lindor plated the first run of the game in the top of the fifth on a single to right field. Starting the sixth inning at 97 pitches, Archer gave up a lead off single to Jose Ramirez which was quickly followed up by a 2-run home run by Marlon Byrd to put the Rays in a 3-0 hole. A batter and an out later, Archer’s day was done at 105 pitches to make way for Steve Geltz. After striking out Roberto Perez, Geltz gave up a solo shot into the left field seats off the bat of Rajai Davis to push the score to 4-0 in favor of the Indians. The Tampa Bay bullpen hit a rough patch for the first time this season giving up three more runs after Archer’s departure and the offense was shut out for the first time, as well, and only managed five hits off Cleveland pitching.
WP: Salazar (2-0) LP: Archer (0-3)
The Rays welcome in another AL Central foe in the resurgent Chicago White Sox who are holding steady in first place in the division with a fast start to the 2016 season.
4/15 – Chris Sale (2-0, 3.86) v Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 3.86)
4/16 – John Danks (0-1, 9.00) v TBD
4/17 – Jose Quintana (1-0, 2.31) v Matt Moore (0-0, 3.00)
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