CLEVELAND – The streak survives.
With a rain-shortened 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay in the series opener Friday night at Progressive Field, the Indians beat the Rays for the 18th consecutive time at home.
The last time Tampa won on Cleveland’s turf was Sept. 28, 2005. Since then, the Indians have swept four straight series from the American League East contenders.
“It’s kind of strange,” said Indians manager Manny Acta of his club’s dominance of the Rays at home. “I don’t believe in luck and I don’t believe in curses, but it’s still kind of significant.
“We both have different ballclubs now. We are the one in a rebuilding mode and they’ve got a pretty good ballclub over there. It’s still remarkable that it’s been 18 games.”
Much of the credit for Cleveland’s latest conquest of the Rays goes to starting pitcher Fausto Carmona, who was en route to another quality outing when the game was delayed for the first time (90 minutes) prior to the start of the sixth inning. It was delayed again after 36 minutes of play got the teams one batter into the bottom of the seventh, and halted at 11:57 p.m. after a one hour and 14 minute delay.
The first delay prevented both Carmona and Tampa Bay starter Jeff Niemann from continuing, but Carmona still got the win, allowing just one unearned run on one hit, while striking out seven over five innings.
It was the third straight win for Carmona and his sixth victory in his last eight starts. He retired 15 of the 17 batters he faced, with Reid Brignac producing the Rays’ lone hit – a single in the third – and Carlos Pena drawing a walk in the fourth.
“Fausto was fantastic,” Acta said. “He had very good movement and pitched ahead.”
The Indians scored first in the opening inning, with Michael Brantley coming home on a fielder’s choice ground out from Carlos Santana, who hit cleanup for the first time in his career after batting third in his first 35 games for Cleveland.
Tampa Bay answered with a run in the second, thanks to some shoddy fielding from the Indians.
Pena reached on an error by second baseman Jason Donald, whose throw to first baseman Matt LaPorta was off the mark. Pena stole second base and advanced to third on the Indians’ second error of the inning – a wide throw from Santana that got by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and into the outfield.
Pena scored on a grounder to second from John Jaso.
The Indians forged ahead for good in the third inning, Brantley leading off with a single and Cabrera following with a double. A grounder to second from Shin-Soo Choo scored Brantley.
Choo was activated from the disabled list prior to the game and it took him just four pitches to test his body when the first batter, Ben Zobrist, sent a deep drive to right field. Choo raced to the warning track and made the catch before crashing into the wall and winding up on his back.
Trevor Crowe’s second home run of the season, a solo shot into the Rays’ bullpen in right field, capped the scoring.
Tony Sipp pitched two innings in relief of Carmona, allowing just one baserunner on a walk to Evan Longoria to earn his first career big league save. The left-hander struck out three.
With the win, Cleveland’s seventh in eight games and 10th in 12 games at Progressive Field, the Indians moved into a tie with Kansas City at the bottom of the Central Division.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or email@example.com.