CLEVELAND – Austin Meadows hit two homers with two runs, Ji-Man Choi had three RBIs and the Tampa Bay Rays beat Cleveland 8-2 on Saturday night, extending their winning streak against the Indians to 11 games.
The Rays took first place with Boston in the AL East. You haven’t lost to the Indians since May 24, 2019. The franchise’s longest winning streak against an opponent is 12 against Baltimore in 2008.
Meadows, Choi and Brett Phillips each got homered in the first three innings, helping Tampa Bay build a 4-1 lead over JC Mejia (1-6). Choi also drove in the seventh and ninth runs, and Meadows hit his second shot in two runs in the ninth.
Choi and Joey Wendle each went 4 for 5 for the Rays. They have won a total of five times in a row and share the best record in the AL. Choi doubled twice and scored three runs.
Louis Head (1-0), a 31-year-old rookie, took his maiden Major League victory with more than two innings of relief. The right-handed player spent nine seasons in the minors – the first seven in the Indian organization – before making his Rays debut on April 25.
Drew Rasmussen started the first three innings for Tampa Bay and allowed Bobby Bradley to make a solo homer. Cleveland scored its second run in run six when César Hernández faced Heads error and came home with Franmil Reyes’ groundout.
Mejia worked a season high with six innings that allowed for five runs but remained without a win in nine starts. His only win was relief on May 24th in Detroit.
Bradley Zimmer had two of the Indians’ five hits and made a jumping catch in the middle to possibly save a run.
Nelson Cruz went 0 for 5 in his second game with the Rays after being acquired in a four-player deal with Minnesota.
Indian manager Terry Francona was sent home by the team’s medical staff ahead of the game as he battled a persistent cold. Bank coach DeMarlo Hale took over his duties.
Ray’s SS Taylor Walls was voted Triple-A Durham to add RHP Sean Poppen to the roster. The 25-year-old Walls shone on the field in 39 games but found himself in a 1 to 17 slump, bringing his average to 0.212.
“Taylor was incredibly impressive on the defensive, but we’re in a bit of a roster crisis and we need some pitching,” said manager Kevin Cash. “He’s a major league player and we know he can help us when he comes back.”
Rays: RHP Tommy Hunter (lower back pain), acquired by the Mets in exchange for LHP Rich Hill, wasn’t ruled out for the season by general manager Erik Neander. Hunter has been on the 60-day injured list since June 11th.
Indian: OF Jordan Luplow (left ankle sprain) hits .300 with two homers and four RBI through four games on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus. Luplow was injured in Detroit on May 24th and is on the 60-day IL.
Rays: LHP Ryan Yarbrough (6-4, 4.59 ERA) is slated to make his 15th start in the four-game series finals for the time being, but Cash hasn’t ruled out an opener.
Indians: RHP Triston McKenzie (1-4, 5.91 ERA) is in a winless run with seven starts and has a 0-3 record of 6.67 ERA since winning in Kansas City on May 6.