Of the Cleveland Indians’ 19 losses this season, 11 have come via bullpen collapses.
The Indians and their beleaguered bullpen hope to begin putting a brutal six-week stretch behind them when they open a three-game series with the visiting Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
After losing five in a row, the Indians took two of three from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park this week, with the bullpen finally holding on to a big lead in Wednesday’s 6-4 victory.
Staked to a 6-2 advantage through six innings thanks to a strong performance from starter Cliff Lee, the Indians came away with the victory despite another near meltdown. After David Riske and Rick White tossed a scoreless inning each, closer Rafael Betancourt gave up two runs in the ninth before striking out Mark Bellhorn to end the threat.
“Raffie got himself in some trouble in the ninth, but he worked himself out of it,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “The bottom line is: we won the ballgame. … This is a step for us.”
Riske insists he and the rest of the Indians’ relievers are ready to bounce back from their dismal start.
“I’m the No. 1 guy to blame in this bullpen,” Riske said. “Whatever happens in the future, happens. I’m going to tell myself this is a turning point.”
Owners of the worst record in the majors, the Devil Rays snapped a season-high seven-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over Texas on Thursday. Carl Crawford had three hits, including a tiebreaking RBI single in the sixth as Tampa Bay put on a show for its new ownership group, led by New York investor Stuart Sternberg.
“We got a new ownership group and they got their first win. They must think this is easy,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said.
“This is a real good day for Devil Rays baseball. This man is going to bring a lot to the party, and everybody’s delighted.”
Tampa Bay suffered a three-game sweep during its lone visit to Cleveland last season, and has lost 13 of its last 15 at Jacobs Field.