The Tampa Bay Rays seek a sweep this afternoon at the Trop, having already beaten the Indians by scores of 4-0 and 9-6. That’s not what the Indians need at this point in the season. They could have gotten closer to the Twins yesterday but couldn’t take advantage. The Tigers helped the Indians out with a rare win Saturday.
Both teams drew losses, so everything remains the same in the AL Central. Cleveland have a hole to get out of in AL Central if they want to defend their divisional championships. The Indians have won the AL Central the last three seasons, but a fourth is in serious doubt currently.
Between today and the end of the month, the Indians must make up 4.5 games, which would get them into a tie with the Twins. The way that the Twins swing the bats it’s going to be tough. And if they get hot this month, it’s lights out on the Indians. However, they can still play in the Wild Card Game if they can beat out the Rays and Athletics.
The Rays were the better team the last couple of days. They won with their pitching Friday and then the offense carried the load yesterday. Zach Plesac of the Indians was smacked around for 4 earned runs in 5 innings of play. The bullpen couldn’t stop the bleeding, as Tyler Clippard and Hunter Wood each allowed 2 runs.
It was a bad day for what has typically been a reliable bullpen for the Indians this year. But the way baseball has gone in 2019, any bullpen is susceptible to getting touched up. The Tribe are 1st in the majors with an ERA of 3.37 from their relievers, but it didn’t matter in Tampa on Saturday. Adam Plutko and Charlie Morton are expected to get the starts in this one. Head below for our free Indians vs. Rays pick.
Cleveland Indians vs. Tampa Bay Rays Pick:
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The Indians will give it another go Sunday in an attempt to avoid getting swept in Tampa. They were in a good position with homefield in the Wild Card Game in their possession going into the weekend, but they’ve made it more difficult on themselves given the last two days. The Indians might have gotten a little too relaxed after sweeping the Tigers before heading to Florida.
Cleveland also played the Royals prior to that series, so they weren’t tested since August 22nd against the Mets, a game in which they lost. After meeting a formidable opponent, the last two days, the Indians haven’t looked great. That said, a win today would still be big for the Tribe.
They get Charlie Morton coming off a terrible outing against the Astros. He was smoked for 6 earned runs in 4 innings. Entering Sunday, he owns an ERA of 5.06 in his last three contests. I wouldn’t be too worried about him if I were a Rays’ fan, though. He is likely going to see more of a desperate Cleveland squad than we saw the last two days. Adam Plutko has been pitching well recently, with a 3.06 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in his last three outings.
Plutko has been consistent since around late July. He’s allowed more than 3 runs just once in his last seven starts. Also note that all three of his previous starts have been on the road, so he’s looked fine as a visiting pitcher. Despite the two losses this weekend, the Indians have typically been a good team in Tampa.
They were 11-4 against the Rays on the road before sliding on Friday and Saturday. This should be a close series finale Sunday afternoon. There is just way too much juice to lay on the Rays here to win. The value appears to be on the road team to win or keep the final score within a run.