The Indians had a bad taste in their mouths last weekend after taking it squarely on the chin in a desultory three-game gagging in Baltimore.
Somebody was gonna pay, and it turned out to be the Rays’ bats.
The Rays got their first hit in the first inning on an infield single by Joey Butler, so there was no perfect game or no-hitter drama to be had today. In fact, the Rays actually tagged Corey Kluber (8 INN/7 H/4 R (3 ER)/14 SO/1 BB) pretty good in the first. The Rays shot out to a quick 2-0 lead after the first, which was their first (and only) lead of the entire series. And for a short while, it looked like it would be plenty for a returning Matt Moore (4.2 INN/6 H/4 ER/4 SO/2 BB), who was making his first start since missing over a year from injury.
But it didn’t take long for the Klubot to become the Terminator. He kicked it into hyperdrive after the rough first inning, making the Rays look as nearly as helpless as they did the night before against Carlos Carrasco.
Our old friends, Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera would even things up in the sixth inning, but it just felt like if the Indians could just hold the fort, things would be just fine. Bryan Shaw worked a perfect ninth and (what else?) struck out two.
And it was. The first pitch of the tenth put the Indians up for good when Mike Aviles launched a solo shot to left off of Xavier Cedeno, and Cody Allen finished off the sweep in the only proper way: striking out the side in order.
The Rays struck out 32 times in less than 24 hours. If the Indians are going to get back into the playoff conversation as we creep up on the official midway point of the season, the rotation is going to be the key. And what a showing it was in St. Pete.
W: Bryan Shaw (-1); L: Xavier Cedeno (1-1); S: Cody Allen (15)