The Tampa Bay Rays are a riddle that the Cleveland Indians have been unable to solve dating back to the 2019 season.
The Rays will vie for their 12th straight win over the Indians on Sunday afternoon when the teams conclude their four-game series in Cleveland. Should Tampa Bay emerge victoriousin the finale, it would match the club record for the longest win streak vs. one opponent -- a feat accomplished against the Baltimore Orioles from April 30-Sept. 24, 2008.
The Rays, who are 16-2 in their past 18 meetings with the Indians, have won five in a row overall and 13 of their past 16 to move a season-best 21 games above .500.
"Just an awesome job by everybody," Rays manager Kevin Cash said Saturday after his club's 8-2 victory. "We got an early lead and that helped a lot, and there were a lot of big hits at good points of the game."
Conversely, Cleveland totaled just five hits on Saturday. The Indians have dropped 15 of their past 21 contests and are in danger of dropping below .500 for the first time since May 1.
Ji-Man Choi and former Indians farmhand Joey Wendle each recorded four-hit performances for the Rays on Saturday.
"I had some pretty good at-bats and I put the barrel on the ball," said Choi, who hit a solo homer in the first inning.
Choi also launched a three-run shot to highlight a six-run uprising in the ninth inning of the Rays' 10-5 win on Friday. His seven career homers versus Cleveland are tied for his most against an opponent (Toronto).
Rays left fielder Austin Meadows, who hadn't homered since June 23, belted a pair of two-run shots on Saturday. He is 7-for-21 (.333) with seven RBIs during a five-game hitting streak.
Tampa Bay's Ryan Yarbrough (6-4, 4.59 ERA) will look to rebound from a poor performance when he takes the mound for the series finale.
Yarbrough, 29, yielded six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 6-4 setback against the Orioles on Monday. He had posted a 5-0 record in his previous 12 outings.
"It's the tough part where you feel like you're doing a good job of getting that soft contact," Yarbrough said. "It's just finding a lot of holes, and I feel like that makes it kind of hard to assess some things sometimes. It's just one of the things you kind of realize that it's all going to even out eventually."
Yarbrough owns a 2-0 record with a 2.19 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against the Indians.
Cleveland right-hander Triston McKenzie (1-4, 5.91 ERA) will provide the opposition on Sunday.
McKenzie, 23, allowed five runs on a career-high eight hits -- including two homers by Jose Altuve -- in four-plus innings of a 9-3 setback at Houston on Tuesday.
"I was sticking to the plan, attacking the zone," McKenzie said. "I felt like it backfired against me a little bit with a lot of balls in play."
McKenzie will be making his 22nd major league appearance (19th start) on Sunday. He has yet to face Rays in his young career.
--Field Level Media