Indians Look To Expand AL Central Lead With Sweep of Devil Rays Print
Sunday, 19 August 2007 06:15
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Playing against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays should help the Cleveland Indians increase their AL Central lead.

The Indians look to continue their recent dominance over the Devil Rays on Sunday when the teams complete a three-game series at Tropicana Field.

Cleveland has won seven straight against Tampa Bay by a combined 39-17 score, and is 14-1 in the past 15 meetings. A win Sunday would give the Indians their first series sweep since winning four straight against Tampa Bay from June 29-July 2. Cleveland hasn't swept a three-game set on the road since May 25-27 at Detroit.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Cleveland -155 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland -155 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Jake Westbrook allowed one run in seven innings and Asdrubal Cabrera hit his first major league home run Saturday in Cleveland's 8-1 victory.

Grady Sizemore also homered and Casey Blake knocked in two runs for the Indians (68-54), winners of three straight after losing four in a row. With the win, Cleveland extended its lead in the Central to 1 1/2 games over Detroit, which lost 5-2 to the New York Yankees.

"We're getting close to September, so now every win counts,'' Westbrook said. "Every win is big right now and hopefully we can do everything we can to kind of separate ourselves from Detroit.''

Tampa Bay (46-76), limited to three hits off Westbrook and two relievers, has gone 13-36 since June 25 to drop a season-worst 30 games under .500. The Devil Rays have not homered in eight straight games, scoring 17 runs over the stretch.

"It just ain't happening right now,'' left fielder Carl Crawford said. "It's late August. ... Probably a little tired. That's the only thing I can think of. We'll start swinging again.''

The Indians' eight runs was their biggest total since a 10-4 win over Minnesota on July 27. They averaged 3.4 runs in the previous 23 games.

Cabrera's three-run drive off starter Jason Hammel in the second inning opened the scoring for the Indians. The 21-year-old rookie is 5-for-19 (.263) with four RBIs in six games this season.

"That's a big three-run homer,'' Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "That is what got it started, and the guys just added on from there.''

C.C. Sabathia (14-6, 3.48 ERA) looks to tie for the major league lead in wins when he faces the Devil Rays for the third time this season. The Cleveland ace had another strong performance against Detroit on Tuesday, allowing two runs and seven hits in seven innings with one walk and eight strikeouts. He did not receive a decision in the Indians' 6-2 loss in 10 innings.

Sabathia is only 1-2 in his last five starts despite a 2.08 ERA in that span. The Indians have scored only 12 total runs in those games.

The right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 10 career starts against Tampa Bay, including 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two outings this season.

James Shields (9-8, 4.22) tries to continue his run of solid outings for the Devil Rays. Since allowing a career-high 10 runs in a loss to the Yankees on July 22, the right-hander is 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA in his past four starts. In those five outings over 24 2-3 innings, Shields has walked four and struck out 27.

He was a tough-luck 3-0 loser at Boston on Monday, giving up one run and five hits in six innings with no walks and five strikeouts.

Shields is 0-1 with a 2.51 ERA in two starts this season against the Indians.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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