Rays set to host rare doubleheader vs. Indians

MLB Baseball

The looming presence of Tropical Storm Elsa forced Major League Baseball to postpone the Cleveland Indians’ game on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Instead, the teams will play a doubleheader on Wednesday — with the first seven-inning game scheduled to begin at 12:10 p.m. ET.

The doubleheader will be just the fourth in the history of the domed Tropicana Field. Its most recent was Aug. 8, 2020, when the Rays hosted the New York Yankees after schedule changes impacted several clubs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tampa Bay and the Detroit Tigers played the stadium’s first doubleheader on Sept. 30, 2004, approximately one month after destructive Hurricane Frances made landfall in Florida. The Rays also hosted a scheduled doubleheader against the Oakland Athletics on June 10, 2017.

Rays manager Kevin Cash probably just wants to keep playing after his team posted a 9-8 victory over the Indians in the series opener on Monday.

Tampa Bay squandered an early 4-0 lead, an advantage earned after Brandon Lowe’s first career grand slam. The Rays rallied for two runs in the ninth inning off power pitcher Emmanuel Clase, grabbing the win in walk-off fashion when Yandy Diaz’s high-chopping fielder’s choice scored speedy Randy Arozarena with the bases loaded.

“I had a lot of confidence that Yandy would come through just because he puts the bat on the ball so well,” Cash said of Diaz, who also hit a solo home run and scored twice.

Rookie infielder Wander Franco extended his hitting streak to a seven games with a game-tying RBI single in the ninth inning. Franco, 20, is hitting .310 during the stretch.

Cash will start Michael Wacha (1-2, 5.26 ERA) as an opener in Wednesday’s first contest. Wacha allowed one run on five hits in five innings of a no-decision in his lone career start against the Indians.

The Rays will follow up with left-hander Josh Fleming (6-4, 3.39), who will handle the bulk of the innings in his debut against Cleveland.

Tampa Bay did not announce a starter for the second game.

Indians manager Terry Francona is expected to send out J.C. Mejia (1-3, 6.18) for his seventh straight start (10th appearance) on Wednesday. It will mark his first encounter versus the Rays.

The right-handed Mejia has alternated good start-bad start since being inserted into the Cleveland rotation on June 4. He either allowed four or more runs in a start, or two or fewer in an outing.

Mejia, 24, is part of an extremely youthful Cleveland rotation that includes Monday’s starter Logan Allen (24), Cal Quantrill (26), Eli Morgan (25) and Sam Hentges (24).

Staff standouts Aaron Civale (finger), Shane Bieber (shoulder) and Zach Plesac (thumb) — each 26 years old — currently are injured.

“You can chalk up a lot of stuff to youth, and I think that certainly could be,” Francona said about young pitchers getting in and out of dicey situations. “Again, we try to take every experience we have and get better and try to learn. Let’s make sure we improve and we understand why things happen.”

The left-handed Hentges (1-3, 8.22) is expected to make his eighth start and 15th appearance this season in the nightcap for the Indians. Like Mejia, he will making his first start against the Rays.

A native of Shoreview, Minn., Hentges has been hit hard in his previous two starts — against his home-state Twins on June 27 and at home versus the Houston Astros on Friday.

In those two short outings totaling six innings, Hentges allowed 12 runs on 12 hits — including a pair of homers — and six walks. He took the loss in both games.

–Field Level Media

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