Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Indians

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Indians Up and Down Season Continues

The Indians have been a model of inconsistency this season. On nights they hit, they don’t pitch. On nights they pitch, they don’t hit. This up and down nature has never been more apparent than over the Indians last seven games, seven games in which the Indians have alternated wins and losses. It’s just been that kind of season.

Hopefully the recent promotion of Francisco Lindor can help add a bit of stability to a team that desperately needs it. So far so good on that front as Lindor has shown a great amount of poise over his first handful of big league games and at bats. If his performance continues, it will have made all the hype and all the waiting well worth it.

Jun 14, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians short stop Francisco Lindor (12) at bat in the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, the 2015 season has been a bot of a surprise for the incoming Tampa Bay Rays. Despite losing a franchise cornerstone in David Price and the man that nearly took them to the promised land in Joe Maddon, the Rays are once again at the top of the AL East standings. Sure, once could argue this is due more to the sudden weakening of the division, but the fact remains… the Rays are playing solid baseball.

The Rays enter this weekend’s series with a record of 38-30 and, as mentioned, the top spot in the AL East. They’ve won seven out of their last ten games (including three of four from the Nationals) and have once again proven that they must know something about baseball that no one else knows. How else do you explain this team continuing to win when they trot out a starting lineup that consists of the following names?

  1. Brandon Guyer
  2. Joey Butler
  3. Evan Longoria
  4. Logan Forsythe
  5. Steven Souza, Jr.
  6. Asdrubal Cabrera
  7. Jake Elmore
  8. Nick Franklin
  9. Rene Rivera

To borrow a seen from a famous movie involving the Indians…

Sure, some of the names are recognizable, Asdrubal Cabrera and Logan Forsythe, and one is a bona-fide star, Evan Longoria. But the rest of them? Is this a major league roster or a local police blotter?

It’s once again a testament to what the Rays have done as an organization. The continue to find a way to get every last drop of talent out of every guy they bring in. And while the Indians often bring in castoffs and other teams’ spare parts, they haven’t received nearly the production that the Rays get from the same type of players and with even less money to spend.

They are just better at this than almost anyone else except for the Cardinals. And even then, the Cardinals are apparently breaking into another team’s secret information. It’s impressive to see a team like the Rays utilize every resource made available, with the exception of money, to continually put a competitive team on the field. Kudos to them.

June 2, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) pitches the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend might prove to be the Rays undoing, however. This is an offensively challenged team, ranking at or near the bottom of baseball in nearly every major offensive category. It’s a struggle for them to score runs. They have instead had to rely on a pitching staff that has been better than originally thought, led by Chris Archer, and a solid defense that relies heavily on proper player placement.

With the type of pitching performances we have routinely seen out of the Indians this season, it would not be surprising to see them completely over power and shut down the Rays for three straight games. It also would not surprise me if the Indians pitching staff continued to implode they way it did against the Cubs. That’s why they play the games, folks.

Either way, this weekend offers an interesting matchup between two teams that find themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Rays are your classic overachiever, making the most out of what they have. The Indians are an underachiever struggling to gain a foothold in the standings despite an immense amount of talent. It should be a fun series full of twists and turns along the way.

Next: Wahoo's on the Mic Talks Lindor

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