The Tampa Bay Rays return home after going 1-4 on their recent road trip to some potential severe weather, but the club has been accustomed to plenty of difficulties over the last week.
With Tropical Storm Elsa looming off the Gulf Coast and threatening landfall in the Tampa area, the Rays come home to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a three-game series starting Monday night against the Cleveland Indians.
The Rays ended a nasty five-game losing streak Sunday afternoon with a 5-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo. Starter Ryan Yarbrough was solid over five innings of one-run ball, and reliever Collin McHugh fired three scoreless innings that featured six strikeouts.
Over May, June and the start of July, McHugh has allowed just one run in 28 1/3 innings, struck out 45 and lowered his ERA to 1.87.
“He’s been such a bright spot for our team,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “He couldn’t have been more efficient doing (what he did).”
After being outscored 37-18 in the five road contests, the Rays will start 41-year-old Rich Hill (6-3, 3.70 ERA) to get the home series off on the right foot, and the left-hander himself will be looking to correct recent results.
In his last outing Wednesday — a 4-3 loss in Washington to the Nationals — the Boston native gave up all four runs and eight hits in six innings.
It marked the third time in five June starts in which he has yielded four earned runs, with only Wednesday’s effort saddling him with a loss.
In 10 career appearances against the Indians — just three starts — Hill holds a 1-1 record and a 4.82 ERA. Cleveland hitters own a .246 batting average and two homers against him over 18 2/3 innings pitched.
After a bout of tendinitis in his right wrist that put him on the injured list, rookie shortstop Taylor Walls started Sunday for the first time since June 22 and popped an insurance RBI double in the skid-snapping victory.
Meanwhile, Cleveland lost 4-3 in 10 innings against visiting Houston on Sunday — the Astros’ first sweep of the Indians — on pitcher Emmanuel Clase’s 10th-inning fielding error.
In attempting to halt its season-long six-game skid, Cleveland will send out left-hander Logan Allen (1-5, 8.38), who will make his seventh start and first against the Rays.
Allen, who has decisions in all six starts, has struggled after tossing five innings in each of his first two outings. Since April 11, he didn’t pitch more than 3 2/3 innings in the next four starts — missing all of May and not returning until June 30 after being sent to Triple-A Columbus in late April.
The Indians were without third baseman Jose Ramirez — Cleveland’s top slugger with 18 home runs — for the fourth time in five games. The 28-year-old Ramirez (left elbow bone bruise) is having trouble extending his full swing after diving for a ball Thursday.
“Jose is minimally better,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said Saturday. “Not good enough to play.”
However, the Indians welcomed back catcher Roberto Perez (fractured finger) on Sunday after he last played on May 3. The backstop was hitless in three at-bats in his return.
Three games over .500 at the halfway mark, the Indians have one win in their past nine games.
–Field Level Media