CLEVELAND: When the loudest ovations at Progressive Field are reserved for the grounds crew removing the tarp from the infield, you know it hasn’t been a productive night for the Indians.
If nothing else, Friday was a strange night at the ballpark, as the Tribe lost 9-2 to the Rays.
Three rain delays – one before the first pitch and two in the early innings -- added up to 4 hours, 49 minutes of waiting for the 29,603 who bought tickets to a game, Dollar Dog Night and the usual Friday night fireworks show, which was canceled.
Except that few customers stuck around for the bulk of the game, which ended at 2:53 in the morning. In all of that time, the Tribe managed to eke out one hit.
Probably only 3,000 fans remained in the grandstand when the game resumed for the final time at 12:13 a.m. today. And it didn’t take long before they must have begun to wonder whether the rain delay was most entertaining part of the evening.
Scott Barnes took over for starter Corey Kluber, who pitched two hitless innings, striking out three and allowing a walk. Kluber obviously was not coming out to pitch the third after the longest delay of the night, 2 hours, 39 minutes.
The Rays were ready for the third inning, Barnes was not. After retiring one batter, he gave up an infield single to Yunel Escobar but struck out Ben Zobrist. Matt Joyce followed with a 411-foot home run for the Rays’ first two runs, and Barnes walked Kelly Johnson.
Evan Longoria drove in the next run with a double, and Longoria trotted home on James Loney’s home run over the right field wall to extend the lead to 5-0.
The Indians had seven innings to respond, but unfortunately for them, they didn’t get their first and only hit until the fifth inning.
It appeared that the Tribe had caught a break because of the interruptions in play. The rain took Rays starter Matt Moore out of the game after one inning, which meant the Indians didn’t have to challenge a pitcher who came into the game with an 8-0 record and 2.21 ERA, a pitcher who had beaten them early in the season.
But Tampa Bay discovered quickly it didn’t need Moore to keep the Tribe at bay. Jamey Wright, who pitched briefly in Cleveland, worked three innings, allowing two unearned runs, no hits and one walk, while striking out four.
The Indians rallied in the fifth, when Wright walked leadoff batter Nick Swisher, and Mark Reynolds reached on an error by Longoria at third. Wright gave way to Josh Lueke, whose wild pitch put runners at second and third.
Consequently, when he retired Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes on balls to the outfield, Gomes produced the first Tribe run with a sacrifice fly. Ryan Raburn followed with a double that scored Reynolds.
Lueke delivered two strong innings of relief, and Cesar Ramos pitched the last three innings, giving up one walk.
The Rays padded their lead late in the game. In the eighth, Bryan gave up a second home run to Loney with nobody on base. In the ninth, Rich Hill gave up three runs on five hits.