The Indians will be going to St. Petersburg for the first time this season coming off a tough series loss to the Blue Jays. The loss dropped the Indians behind Detroit for the first time in a long time and puts them 4 games behind Chicago for the lead in the AL Central. It isn't exactly what the Indians wanted, but it also wasn't big enough to make a big deal of. The Blue Jays did throw out a left handed starter in each of the games they won, continuing on with a trend it looked like the Indians had at least slowed down. The Rays will have two lefties going in the four game series, one of which is the currently unbeatable David Price.
July 16, 7:10 PM EDT: Zach McAllister, RHP, 3-1, 3.40 ERA vs Alex Cobb, RHP, 4-5, 4.89 ERA
McAllister had one of his better starts this year in his last time out, even though the results wouldn't show that. Errors lead to four unearned runs, but outside of that he struck out 8 and didn't allow an earned run. During the game he pushed his ERA to a season low. He continues to impress in just his second Major League season.
Alex Cobb has also been impressive in his second MLB season, although less so. His last game out was a win against the Indians in the series before the All-Star break, but the win was mostly due to a large outpouring of run support. The Indians did manage to score three of the right hander on six hits in six innings.
July 17, 7:10 PM EDT: Josh Tomlin, RHP, 5-5, 5.45 ERA vs Matt Moore, LHP, 5-6, 4.42 ERA
Tomlin has earned wins in each of his last two starts, the last of which came against these Rays. He now has decisions in 7 of his last 8 starts, a testament to him staying in late in the game or getting blown out early. He will need to keep things close late in this game as the Rays will be throwing one of their top starters out there and a left hander to boot.
The Indians did beat Moore in his last outing, scoring 5 runs in less than 5 innings against the lefty, giving some reassurance that they had gotten over their south paw issue. Since this theory has been thoroughly eradicated during the Toronto series, look out.
July 18, 7:10 PM EDT: Justin Masterson, RHP, 6-8, 4.14 ERA vs Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, 4-6, 3.48 ERA
Looking into the second half it was obvious that the Indians #1 and #2 starting pitchers would need to step up. One did and the other fell backwards. Hard. Masterson was great in his performance to begin the second half. Masterson threw 7 shut out innings, a great reponse to his last bad start against Tampa. He will face Tampa again and they know what to expect, so he will need to bring his A game. Last time out he walked four and gave up two home runs in route to the rout. In order to avoid that he will need to throw more quality strikes, by getting his sinker ball to sink and keeping it low in the zone.
Hellickson has lost four consecutive starts and all of his last six decisions after starting the season 4-0. He has seen some bad luck in his last couple as he did throw 6 innings in each but lost 3-1 in both games against the Indians and Red Sox. He will look to get back in the win column, but it should be hard as the Indians have their ace going and the left handed batters should be ready to go after taking a day off and expecting another day off after this game.
July 19, 12:10 PM EDT: Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 8-8, 5.09 ERA vs David Price, LHP, 12-4, 2.80 ERA
I could write a paragraph here about how the Indians should just forfeit this game rather than be made to look silly, but then I may be the one to look silly when Jimenez throws 7 shut out innings. Ubaldo has become impossible to predict and the fact that almost every hitter on the Tribe has now had some success against left handers means you can't predict any one game anymore. That being said, the odds are stacked against the Indians in the series finale.