Indians-Rays Preview

The Tampa Bay Rays are on a roll with the All-Star break

approaching. Facing a last-place team they have easily handled at

home over the past few seasons probably won’t slow them down.

The Rays look to continue their dominance of the Cleveland

Indians at Tropicana Field when the teams open a four-game series

Thursday night.

Tampa Bay (51-33) has won five straight and seven of eight,

posting a 6-4 victory Wednesday night to sweep a three-game set

from Boston. The Rays have moved ahead of the Red Sox into second

place in the AL East and are two games behind the Yankees, who have

also won five in a row.

“Obviously a sweep against anybody is big, but when it comes

against a rival, it’s even bigger,” said left-hander David Price,

who pitched into the eighth inning to become the AL’s first 12-game

winner. “… We played good baseball for three days and we got

rewarded for it.”

The Rays will now get to face the Indians, who were swept in a

two-game series in Tampa from May 17-18 and have lost five straight

and eight of 10 at Tropicana Field. Cleveland (33-51) enters this

series having dropped nine of 11 on the road after falling 4-3 to

Texas on Wednesday night.

Jayson Nix homered for the fourth time in three games for the

Indians. Nix, claimed off waivers from the White Sox on June 24,

has five homers and eight RBIs in 12 games with the Indians after

batting .163 with a homer and five RBIs in 24 games for


“Last year, there were a couple times where I maybe played for a

week straight because somebody was hurt,” Nix told the Indians’

official website. “I’ve never had an opportunity like this. It’s a

long season, as everybody knows. It helps to get consistent

at-bats. That makes a huge difference.”

Wade Davis (5-9, 4.86 ERA) will take the mound for Tampa Bay

after not receiving a decision in his last start to end a stretch

of five straight losses. The rookie right-hander allowed four runs

and eight hits over 4 1-3 innings of an 8-6 win at Minnesota on


Davis is 2-8 with a 5.90 ERA over his last 11 starts after

opening 3-1 with a 2.79 ERA. He has never faced Cleveland.

“His last outing was pretty good,” manager Joe Maddon told the

Rays’ official website. “That’s the thing. He’s been pretty good at

times. … So we’ve got to get beyond that moment, but physically

he’s fine. His work is fabulous.”

Jake Westbrook (5-4, 4.59) gets the start for Cleveland after

consecutive strong outings. The right-hander allowed one run over

six innings to beat Toronto 2-1 on June 28 and gave up two earned

runs in six innings of a 5-4, 10-inning win over Oakland on


“It’s just about consistency with me right now,” Westbrook said.

“Hopefully, I can keep pitching well and put us in a position to

win, which is what I always try to do.”

Westbrook has pitched well against Tampa Bay, going 4-0 with a

2.81 ERA in his last six starts – with three of those wins coming

at Tropicana Field.