The Tampa Bay Rays kick off a three-game set with the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night in a showdown between two of the season's surprising teams in the American League. Game time from Progressive Field in Cleveland is set for 4:05 p.m. (PT) and it will be available on MLB TV.
Weather for this game should be almost perfect with light winds and temperatures in the low 60s. There is a 30 percent chance of a few stray showers, but they should not impact play.
Tampa Bay pulled into a first-place tie with New York in the AL East after sweeping three from the Orioles over the weekend. The Rays have now won seven of their last 10 games to go to 20-14 on the year.
Tampa Bay is just 9-10 at home but is an AL-best 11-4 on the road.
Pitching continues to be the strong suit for Tampa with a 3.23 team ERA. The staff is currently third in AL in fewest earned runs allowed (110). The Rays’ hitting has been decent with a team batting average of .248 and they are averaging a respectable 4.32 runs per game. They have three players with 20 or more RBI led by Ben Zobrist’s 25. He also leads the team in home runs with seven.
Right-hander Andy Sonnanstine is scheduled to make his first start for Tampa Bay this season in place of Jeff Niemann who recently went on the 15-day disabled list. Sonnanstine has appeared in six previous games out of the bullpen and has a 2.19 ERA in 12 1/3 innings of work.
Sonnastine’s longest outing was on April 10 against the White Sox when he pitched 5 1/3 innings; giving up three hits and one earned run. He is 3-3 lifetime against the Indians with a 9.51 ERA.
Cleveland’s strong start this season has continued into May with a 7-3 record in the last 10 games, but the Tribe did drop two of three games to Los Angeles this past weekend, including a 6-5 loss as a 138 road underdog on Sunday.
The Indians lead the AL with a 22-11 record, going 9-9 on the road but an impressive 13-2 at home.
One of the main reasons for the early turnaround from last season is a pitching staff that has an ERA of just 3.25. Cleveland is third in the AL allowing just 3.55 runs per game.
Indians bats have also been productive with a .266 team batting average and 165 runs scored. Asdrubal Cabrera is leading the way with 37 hits, 22 RBI and five home runs.
Josh Tomlin is scheduled to be on the mound for Cleveland. He is 4-1 in six previous starts with an ERA of 2.43. His last time out he gave up three hits, two of which were solo home runs in 7 2/3 innings of work in a loss to the A’s. This will be Tomlin's first career start against the Rays.
Tampa Bay is 11-10 as a favorite this season but 9-4 as an underdog. The total has stayed ‘under’ in four of its last six games and in 22 of its 34 games overall.
Cleveland is 9-3 as a favorite and 13-8 as an underdog. The total has stayed ‘under’ in five of its last eight games and is 16-15-2 overall.
Head-to-head, the Rays won seven of nine games last season but went 1-2 at Progressive Field. The total stayed ‘under’ in six of the nine meetings. This time around the Indians should open as a mild favorite at home. Stick with Cleveland to take Game 1 of this series as it remains tough to beat on its home field.