The Cleveland Indians had to settle for a split of their six-game West Coast swing, but they have every reason to believe a return to Progressive Field will get them back on track.
The Tampa Bay Rays have no reason to think a trip to Cleveland - or anywhere, for that matter - will slow them down.
A win Tuesday night would give the Indians their first 14-game home winning streak in nearly 16 years, but that won’t be easy against a Rays team looking to extend the longest string of road victories in franchise history to nine.
Since giving up 23 runs while losing its first two games at Progressive Field, Cleveland (22-11) has surrendered a total of 32 while going 13-0 at home. The Indians are looking to post the best home start in franchise history and match their third-longest home winning streak at 14, last achieved Aug. 18-Sept. 10, 1995.
They haven’t been able to carry that success to the road, going 5-9 since a 4-0 start. Cleveland wasted a good chance at a winning West Coast trip Sunday by blowing a pair of leads in a 6-5 loss to the Angels.
Both losses in Anaheim came by one run.
“It’s bittersweet,” third baseman Adam Everett(notes) told the team’s official website after his error led to three runs Sunday. “We felt like we could have squeaked out another win, maybe two. That’s just part of the game. I felt like we didn’t play as well as we could play in some of those games, but we had a chance to win, and that’s encouraging.”
The Rays (20-14) have had the opposite problem of the Indians. Just 9-10 at home, Tampa Bay has the majors’ best road winning percentage with an 11-4 record.
It was 3-4 away from Tropicana Field just a little over two weeks ago, but eight straight road wins - and 19 of 25 overall - have allowed manager Joe Maddon’s club to put a 1-8 start in the rear-view mirror. The Rays wrapped up a sweep at Baltimore with a 5-3 victory Sunday and are in a virtual tie atop the AL East with the New York Yankees.
“We’re playing good baseball right now,” Ben Zobrist(notes) told the league’s official website. “We’re hitting the ball really well, scoring some runs, which is nice. … Everybody gets excited when you’re scoring a lot of runs.”
Zobrist is batting .421 during a 14-game hitting streak for the Rays, who have averaged 7.0 runs during their road streak. The defense and pitching have played just as big a role in that stretch, committing one error and posting a 2.13 ERA.
Northeast Ohio native Andy Sonnanstine(notes) (0-0, 2.19 ERA) tries to keep it going in his first start as he fills in for injured right-hander Jeff Niemann(notes). Sonnanstine has been effective out of the bullpen in six appearances, but he’s made only four starts since September 2009.
His starts in Cleveland have been a disaster. He’s 0-3 with a 10.67 ERA, surrendering five homers and 25 hits in 14 1-3 innings. Journeyman third baseman Jack Hannahan(notes) is 4 for 10 with two homers off Sonnanstine.
Josh Tomlin(notes) (4-1, 2.43), who has never faced the Rays, will be looking to bounce back from his first loss. Tomlin only gave up three hits over 7 2-3 innings Wednesday at Oakland, but two left the park in a 3-1 loss - much to the chagrin of manager Manny Acta.
“I thought Tomlin was fantastic,” Acta said.
The Indians won 18 straight at home against Tampa Bay before concluding last season’s series with a pair of losses.
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