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News » Indians-Rays Preview 2009-05-14

Indians-Rays Preview 2009-05-14

Indians-Rays Preview 2009-05-14
The Tampa Bay Rays hope Carl Crawford makes a quick recovery from a shoulder injury. Their next opponent, though, may make it easier for them to rest their star outfielder.

With Crawford banged up and having struggled in recent years against the Cleveland Indians, the Rays may put somebody else in the No. 2 spot in their lineup in the opener of a four-game series Thursday night.

Tampa Bay (16-19) could begin an eight-game homestand without Crawford, who left after 4 1/2 innings with a bruised right shoulder in an 8-6 win over Baltimore on Wednesday night.

Crawford, who leads the majors with 22 stolen bases, hurt himself making a diving catch of a sinking liner to end the fourth. He was replaced in left field by Ben Zobrist and is day to day.

Crawford went hitless in three at-bats Wednesday, and past performances suggest he'd be better off sitting out against Cleveland (13-22). He's batting .136 (6 for 44) in his last 11 games versus the Indians.

Rays designated hitter Pat Burrell, who's played only five games against Cleveland because he spent his first nine seasons in the NL, has missed two straight games due to a sore neck. The 32-year-old slugger, hitting .250 with one home run and 17 RBIs in 30 games, is uncertain for Thursday.

While Burrell has struggled after signing a two-year, $16 million contract in January, usually light-hitting shortstop Jason Bartlett has given Tampa Bay some surprising production. Bartlett matched a career high with his fifth homer of the season in the series finale against the Orioles.

"He is hitting the ball with more authority than we had anticipated," manager Joe Maddon said.

Bartlett is batting .526 (10 for 19) in his last five games, and had three hits in the last game James Shields (3-3, 4.02 ERA) started.

Shields will take the mound Thursday after a poor performance in his last outing, as he allowed five runs and a season-high 10 hits in six innings of Tampa Bay's 7-3 loss to Boston on Friday night.

The right-hander is 0-2 with a 3.76 ERA in four starts against the Indians.

Cleveland will counter with Fausto Carmona (1-4, 5.57), who continues to have problems with his control, issuing 23 walks in 42 innings. The right-hander walked a season-high six in his last outing but pitched well otherwise, giving up two runs in 6 2-3 innings as Cleveland lost 4-0 to Detroit on Saturday night.

Carmona is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance versus the Rays.

Victor Martinez, likely to be Carmona's batterymate, went 3 for 4 with a homer in Cleveland's 4-0 win over Chicago on Wednesday.

The Indians took two of three from the White Sox for their second series win of the year.

"You're not going to win 20 games in a row," Cleveland first baseman Ryan Garko told the team's official Web site. "But we can win a bunch of series in a row."

Cleveland, last in the AL Central, is opening a 10-game, 11-day road trip - its longest of the season. The Indians lost two of three at Tampa last year but won the season series 5-2.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 14, 2009

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