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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, July 18th (All times eastern)
Cleveland Indians (46-44) at Tampa Bay Rays (47-44), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Cleveland - Justin Masterson (6-8, 4.14) Tampa Bay - Jeremy Hellickson (4-6, 3.48)
(Sports Network) - Jeremy Hellickson tries for his first win in nine starts this evening when the Tampa Bay Rays continue a four-game set with the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field.
Hellickson lost his fourth straight start and sixth consecutive decision on Friday against Boston, as he allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, dropping him to 4-6 on the year to go along with a 3.48.
"I thought my stuff was pretty good," Hellickson said after the start. "Made a bad pitch to (David) Ortiz in the first that cost me, but overall, I think my stuff was pretty good."
Run support has been an issue for Hellickson, who has surrendered more than three earned runs just once over the course of his drought. His last win came against the Red Sox back on May 16.
Hellickson lost to Cleveland in his final start before the break and is 1-1 in two starts against them with a 1.38 ERA.
Cleveland, meanwhile, will counter with right-handed sinkerballer Justin Masterson, who is 6-8 with a 4.14 ERA. Masterson rebounded from an awful showing against the Rays on July 6 to beat the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, scattering five hits over seven scoreless innings.
"Masterson was impressive," Indians manager Manny Acta said afterward. "He established his fastball the whole game, was able to throw it to both sides of the plate. He also had a pretty good slider and a pretty good idea of when to add and subtract to his sinker. I thought that he did a magnificent job."
That masterful showing followed up a horrific effort against Tampa that saw him allow eight runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. The Rays have always given Masterson problems, as he is a mere 1-7 lifetime against them with a 7.69 ERA in 12 games (8 starts).
On Tuesday, Carlos Pena hit a two-run homer to pace an early Tampa Bay attack, and the Rays used a solid combined pitching performance from Matt Moore and the bullpen to claim a 4-2 win.
Luke Scott added an RBI triple -- his first since 2010 -- in the three-run first inning, and Moore (6-6) allowed two runs on three hits and five walks in five-plus laborious innings for the Rays, who improved to only 7-15 against the AL Central.
"He's got a great arm, he's a great kid and will keep getting better," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Moore. "He got a win tonight, not bad for a 23- year-old."
Fernando Rodney earned his league-leading 27th save with a scoreless ninth.
Jose Lopez and Jason Kipnis drove in a run apiece for the Indians, who lost for the third time in four games after Josh Tomlin's shaky start. Tomlin (5-6) yielded four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, the sixth time in nine starts he's allowed at least four runs.
"He had below average stuff and pitched behind and got hurt by the first three guys. After that he did a tremendous job and gave us a very good outing," Acta said.
Cleveland has split its six matchups with the Rays this season.
07/18 10:32:59 ET