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Indians Indians Archive Indians vs. Rays Preview: Tribe Looks to Hit All-Star Break on a High Note
Written by Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore

2012 07 indians raysThe Cleveland Indians welcome Tampa Bay to Progressive Field Thursday night for a four-game series to close out the first-half of the season.

This will be the first meeting in 2012 between the Tribe and Rays; the Indians dropped four-of-six to Tampa Bay last season. The Tribe leads the all-time series, 69-42, with a 40-16 mark in Cleveland.

The Tribe does catch a break in that they will miss Tampa’s No. 1 starter, David Price, who is 11-4 with a 2.82 ERA and 105 strikeouts on the year.

The Indians (42-39) enter the season having won five of their last seven to sit in second place, two games behind the Chicago White Sox, in the American League Central Division. The Tribe has picked up a game-and-a-half on the White Sox since falling a season-high three-and-a-half games back after last Friday’s loss to the Baltimore.

Over their last nine games, the Indians are hitting .325 and averaging 6.8 runs per game as the offense heated up with the weather last week against Baltimore and, with the exception of Monday night’s shutout loss to Los Angeles, hasn’t cooled off since.

Among the hottest Indians has been Shin-Soo Choo, who has batted .403 with eight doubles, three home runs and nine RBI over his last 16 games.

The Rays (43-39) enter the game having lost 10 of their past 15 games and are in third place, six-and-a-half games out of first place, in the American League East. They are just 4-12 against the AL Central this year.

In Thursday’s series opener, Josh Tomlin (4-5) will take on Jeremy Hellickson (4-4), last year’s American League Rookie of the Year. Tomlin is just 2-3 with a 6.89 ERA over his last six starts and is 0-1 lifetime against Tampa in 12 innings of work. Hellickson is 0-4 in his last six starts and will be making his second start since coming off the disabled list. He beat the Indians last year by throwing seven shutout innings, striking out six.

Friday night, Justin Masterson (5-7) takes on Alex Cobb (3-5). Masterson has struggled over the years against the Rays, carrying a career record of 1-6 with a 6.80 ERA in 43.2 innings of work. Lefties are hitting .277 against Cobb and, while he has only given up three home runs, they have all come against left-handed batters. After going 2-1 in May, Cobb is just 1-4 with a 5.56 ERA since the start of June. Jose Lopez is the only Indians batter to ever face Cobb, and Lopez is 0-for-2.

Saturday, Ubaldo Jimenez (7-7) faces Matt Moore (5-5), the only left-handed starter the Indians will see this weekend (Rays manager Joe Maddon must not have gotten the memo). Jimenez faced the Rays in 2009 when he was with Colorado, limiting them to one earned run in 6.2 innings of work, striking out seven. Lefties are hitting .297 against Moore, but he’s 4-0 with an ERA of 3.29 since June 1. He’s never faced the Indians.

In Sunday’s finale, Zach McCallister (3-1) will oppose James Shields (8-5). McCallister has never faced the Rays; while the Indians have had success against Shields, who is just 1-5 in his career against the Tribe, although he has a 3.83 ERA and has struck out 61. Lefties are hitting .265 against Shields, but they have taken him deep 11 times this year. Since June 1, he is 2-2 with a 4.42 ERA.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

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