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INDIANS-RAYS OPEN 3-GAME SET WITH STRONG PITCHING MATCHUP
Thu, 02 Jun 2011 01:46 PM EDT

CLEVELAND INDIANS (30-17)

at TAMPA BAY RAYS (26-23)

First pitch: Friday, 7:10 p.m. EDT
Line: Tampa Bay -160, Cleveland +150, Total: 7.5

Cleveland looks to avoid a season-long, three-game losing streak when it visits Tampa to begin a three-game series on Friday night. The Rays are also struggling, having lost five of their past six games. Baseball scores.

The Indians have dropped two straight, including a 14-2 loss to Boston on Wednesday. They had won seven of their previous nine contests. Cleveland will send Josh Tomlin (6-1, 2.41 ERA) to the mound on Friday, as the right-hander will look to win his third straight start. He allowed only one run and three hits in seven innings in a 2-1 victory over Cincinnati last Saturday. Tomlin has pitched at least six innings in all nine starts and hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of those games. In his only career start against Tampa Bay, he got a no-decision on May 10, surrendering three runs and six hits in six innings in a 5-4 Indians victory. Tomlin has also been great on the road, going 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA and 0.72 WHIP (16 H, 4 BB in 27.2 IP) in four road starts this season.

OF Grady Sizemore (.282 BA, 6 HR, 11 RBI in 18 games) is expected to return for this series, possibly on Friday night. He has been on the disabled list since bruising his right kneecap on May 10 against the Rays. The offense could sure use him, considering the team is batting .215 in its past eight games and scoring three runs or fewer in six of these contests. Baseball odds.

The Rays offense has been just as bad in their past eight games, with a .213 BA and 59 strikeouts. Tampa Bay ace David Price (5-4, 3.89 ERA) will look to get back on track Friday night. Price has struggled in his past two starts, allowing five runs and six hits in each outing. He allowed two home runs in 6.2 innings in the Rays’ 5-3 loss at Florida last Saturday, and only lasted five innings in his previous start against the Yankees. The left-hander began the season strong by going 5-3 with a 3.12 ERA in his first eight starts. One of those victories came at Cleveland on May 11. Price gave up two runs and struck out seven batters with no walks in eight innings in an 8-2 victory, improving to 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in four lifetime starts against Cleveland. In 24.1 innings versus the Indians, he’s surrendered 16 hits and struck out 23 batters. After going 9-2 with a 1.96 ERA at home last year, Price is just 2-2 with a 3.82 ERA in five starts at Tropicana Field this season.

The two teams met earlier this month, and Tampa Bay won the series 2-1. But the Rays have dropped eight of 12 games since that series. Tampa Bay is 11-13 at home, but has won eight of its past nine contests against the Indians at Tropicana Field.

Price certainly has the ability to pitch another gem versus the struggling Indians lineup, but Tomlin has thrown quality starts in all nine of his outings, leading his Cleveland team to a 7-2 record when he takes the mound. With such a lopsided money line, underdog Cleveland is the pick here.

These two highly-rated FoxSheets trends also like the Indians to win the series opener.

CLEVELAND is 16-3 (84.2%, +15.4 Units) against the money line after 2 or more consecutive home games this season. The average score was CLEVELAND 6.2, OPPONENT 3.4 – (Rating = 4*).

CLEVELAND is 18-7 (72.0%, +13.8 Units) against the money line vs. an AL team with a team batting average of .260 or worse this season. The average score was CLEVELAND 5.1, OPPONENT 3.5 – (Rating = 3*). Baseball spreads.

With two great pitchers on the mound, the FoxSheets provides this three-star trend siding with the Under on Friday.

TAMPA BAY is 17-4 UNDER (81.0%, +12.1 Units) as a home favorite of -110 or higher this season. The average score was TAMPA BAY 3.0, OPPONENT 3.7 – (Rating = 3*).


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