Rays-Indians Preview

The Associated Press

Fewer than 12 hours after the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians completed their series opener, both hope the weather will cooperate when they take the field again.

The visiting Rays look for a season-high seventh consecutive victory Saturday against the Indians.

After three rain delays totaling 4 hours, 49 minutes, Tampa Bay (30-24) recorded the final out of its 9-2 victory over Cleveland at 2:53 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday.

With the forecast for this 1:05 p.m. start as well as Sunday's contest calling for more heavy rain, the umpires felt the Friday contest would provide the best chance of completing at least one game in the set.

"It's a very awkward way to do this," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But if you're going to stick around that long you might as well win.''

James Loney homered twice, Matt Joyce added a two-run shot and four pitchers combined on a one-hitter for the Rays, who have won 16 of 22 and went an AL-best 18-10 in May.

Tampa Bay has averaged 7.0 runs during the six-game winning streak.

Joyce has homered in back-to-back games and is batting .359 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 11. Loney, hitting .331, has three of his seven home runs in the last two contests.

Chris Archer will make his season debut Saturday for the Rays against the team that selected him in the 2006 draft. The right-hander never pitched for the Indians and was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2008, then to Tampa Bay as part of the Matt Garza deal in 2011.

"This does add a little extra, but it's not super over-the-top or anything," Archer told the Rays' official website of facing Cleveland. "I know there are some coaches in the Indians organization who always want to see me succeed and do well, so to come up here and play in front of them is going to be pretty cool."

Archer made his major league debut last season when he went 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA in six games - four starts - for the Rays. He was 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 10 starts for Triple-A Durham this year.

"It really comes down to throwing your fastball for a strike," Maddon said. "He has a really good breaking ball, slider, a really good changeup. Physically, he can compete here. Mentally, he can compete here. His pitch ability needs to increase a little bit."

He'll face a Cleveland team that has lost eight of 11 and managed only Ryan Raburn's RBI double Friday. The Indians (29-25) totaled 12 runs and 20 hits in two straight home wins over Cincinnati.

Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3, 5.57 ERA) has gone 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in his last three starts, but has allowed two runs each time in two of those. The most recent time was Monday, when he gave up four hits in seven innings and didn't get a decision in a 4-2 road loss to the Reds.

"I was trying to go after hitters and that's what I did,'' said Jimenez, who allowed a leadoff homer to former teammate Shin-Soo Choo.

The right-hander has gone 2-1 with a 3.93 ERA in three starts against the Rays.

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