Bruce, Clevinger propel Indians over sputtering Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jay Bruce is quickly making his presence felt with his new team.
Bruce had the Cleveland Indians’ only RBIs in their second straight shutout, a 3-0 win over the slumping Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
Bruce had an RBI bloop double in the first inning and an RBI single in the sixth, accounting for the only RBIs for the Indians (62-52).
“He’s got a presence about him in the batter’s box,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of his new outfielder. “He watches and you can see him make adjustments. His production, not just the last two days, for the rest of the way out is going to be really welcome.”
Tampa Bay (59-59) dropped to .500 for the first time since June 16, and the Rays were shut out for the second straight night and the fifth time in eight games. They’ve scored just eight runs in those eight games, the lowest-scoring eight-game stretch in the franchise’s 20-year history.
Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger (6-4) held the Rays to four hits in seven innings, striking out nine batters while walking only one. His gem came a night after Carlos Carrasco took a no-hitter into the seventh inning as part of a shutout win.
“He worked ahead so much,” Francona said of Clevinger. “I think we’ve set the bar high for him, but that was so encouraging. We get three, but it makes it look like it’s enough because of the way he pitched.”
Bruce had been 2-for-5 before the game since being acquired from the New York Mets this week, but Saturday marked his first RBIs since the trade.
Cody Allen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 20th save of the season.
Rays pitcher Chris Archer (8-7) struck out eight batters but continues to build up a pitch count quickly, lasting only 5 1/3 innings before leaving with 111 pitches. He has just one win in six starts since he was selected to the All-Star Game, and the Rays are 2-4 in those starts.
“Frustrated about the loss more than anything,” said Archer, who had gone at least six innings in his previous 15 starts. “All we can do is our best. We feel like we’re doing that. It’s not going to be seven shutout every single night, but we feel like for the most part we’re giving our team a chance to win. That’s all we can do.”
The eight runs in eight games trumps the nine runs scored in an eight-game stretch during Tampa Bay’s first season in July 1998.
The Rays failed to score a run for the fifth time on the nine-game homestand with Clevinger in control early.
“Hopefully, we can turn the page (Sunday),” Archer said. “Baseball’s beautiful. There’s opportunity every day to do something special and hopefully we can do that tomorrow.”
Cleveland jumped ahead in the first inning. Archer issued a two-out walk to Jose Ramirez and gave up an infield single to Edwin Encarnacion. Bruce’s bloop to left field dropped between third baseman Trevor Plouffe and left fielder Corey Dickerson, allowing a run to score on what ended up an RBI double.
The Indians added a run in the third. Francisco Lindor ripped a double down the right-field line, advanced to third on a groundout and scored with two outs on a wild pitch by Archer, just beating the tag after the return throw to the plate.
Clevinger pitched well -- he induced a double play after a leadoff single in the first and struck out the side after a leadoff single in the second. He had retired nine straight when Brad Miller doubled to lead off the fifth but then was thrown out by catcher Roberto Perez with one out trying to steal third.
The Indians added a run in the sixth inning when Ramirez doubled and scored on an RBI single by Bruce to make it 3-0.
The Rays played without third baseman Evan Longoria, who left Friday’s game with a left thumb contusion. X-rays were negative, but he was not in the starting lineup.
NOTES: Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier, out two months with a hip injury, was scheduled to be designated hitter in a rehab game Saturday and again Sunday for Class A Charlotte, his first rehab appearance since July 28. ... Rays RHP Matt Andriese, also recovering from a hip injury, starts Sunday for Charlotte, his first rehab appearance since he was injured June 10. ... Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco took a no-hitter into the seventh against the Rays on Friday night.