CLEVELAND INDIANS (60-52)
at TAMPA BAY RAYS (59-57)
First pitch: Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET
Line: Cleveland -130, Tampa Bay +110, Total: 8.0
The Indians will be trying to avoid a fifth loss in six games when they face the Rays on Friday.
Cleveland is not playing well right now, as the team has now lost four of its past five games. The Indians had a pretty comfortable lead in the AL Central as of last week, but their recent struggles and a three-game winning streak by the Twins have complicated things. Minnesota is now only 3.5 games back in the division, and the Indians know they need to get it going soon. As for the Rays, a victory on Friday night would also be huge for them. Tampa Bay is currently tied for the second AL wild card spot, and the team must continue to win games in order to make it back to the postseason. The starters in this huge Friday night matchup are set to be RHP Carlos Carrasco (10-5, 4.06 ERA, 142 K) for Cleveland and RHP Jacob Faria (5-2, 2.81 ERA, 67 K) for Tampa Bay. Carrasco has been an excellent pitcher throughout his career, but this has been a bit of a rough season for him. Faria, meanwhile, has been excellent since the Rays gave him a shot to start games. It should be an interesting matchup on the hill.
The Indians are trying to get back on track and Carlos Carrasco is definitely a good guy to have on the mound here. Carrasco has not been as good as usual this season, but it’s only a matter of time before he turns things around. His last two starts have been complete disasters, as he has allowed 10 earned runs in 7.1 innings of work. He has, however, bounced back before. Carrasco is not a guy you want to count out, as he has been as consistent as any pitcher in baseball over the past four seasons. On offense, two guys to watch out for in this game are 3B Jose Ramirez (.312 BA, 18 HR, 57 RBI) and OF Jay Bruce (.256 BA, 29 HR, 75 RBI). Ramirez has been a monster for Cleveland this season, and there have been no signs of him slowing down. He should be able to keep it up moving forward. As for Bruce, this will be only his second game with the Indians. He is, however, a lefty hitter going up against a young righty in this one. It wouldn’t be shocking if he makes him pay by taking him yard here.
The Rays are battling for a wild card spot this season, and this series against the Indians is definitely important. Tampa Bay needs to take advantage of all of its remaining home games this season, so this one is no different. The starter in this Friday night game is 24-year-old Jacob Faria, who allowed just one run in 6.0 innings of work against the Brewers on Aug. 4. He struck out nine batters in that game, and another performance like that should mean that the Rays walk away with a victory here. Tampa Bay lost 2-0 in his last start, but one would assume the offense would be a little better here. One guy that just might provide an unlikely spark in this game is 2B Brad Miller (.203 BA, 5 HR, 26 RBI). It has been a rough season for Miller, but the 27-year-old is 3-for-5 with an RBI against Carrasco in his career. He might have a little bit of extra confidence here, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he has a solid game at the plate.