ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.: There was no late rally Saturday, as the Indians’ strategy of waiting out the Tampa Bay Rays’ starting pitcher then making up time against the bullpen didn’t work for a second consecutive night at Tropicana Field.
The Tribe’s offense gave it a half-hearted go by loading the bases against Grant Balfour in the ninth with no outs, but only mustered a Ryan Raburn sacrifice fly that broke up the Rays’ shutout bid in a 7-1 loss.
It might not have mattered had the hitters been a little more productive early in the game as the Tribe’s streak of solid performances from its starting pitchers came to a screeching halt. In a 4⅓-inning dud, right-hander Zach McAllister gave up five runs on eight hits over that span.
Right-handed reliever C.C. Lee slowed the Rays’ bats down for 1⅔ innings — including three strikeouts — in relief of McAllister. But left-hander Josh Outman couldn’t continue the trend, allowing two runs in one-third of an inning as the Rays pushed their lead to seven unanswered runs.
By the time former starter-turned-reliever Carlos Carrasco came on and cleaned up for the Indians, the damage had already been done. The Tribe’s offense wasn’t much help, as Rays left-hander Erik Bedard limited the Indians to a career-best one hit over six shutout innings.
Unlike the previous night in the series opener when the Indians waited out the Rays’ starter, then jumped all over the Tampa bullpen for six runs, Rays right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo contributed two scoreless innings before Balfour capped the night by limiting the damage with a run in the ninth.
Earlier in the game, McAllister breezed through the first two innings before starting to show a crack in the armor in the third inning. Desmond Jennings led off with a single and later scored on David DeJesus’ two-out single before McAllister coaxed Ben Zobrist to fly out to limit the damage.
But the Indians missed a good opportunity to even the score in the next inning. Nick Swisher and Michael Brantley led off with back-to-back walks, but Bedard rebounded to retire the Tribe’s next three batters to get out of the jam unscathed.
Meanwhile, the Rays’ hitters got back to business against McAllister in the bottom half of the inning, tagging him for two runs off three hits and a walk to push the host’s lead to three unanswered runs.
But two more runs in the fifth ended McAllister’s night early as the Rays cruised to victory.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.