There are two questions that beg asking for a Tampa Bay baseball fan today:
How are the Tampa Bay Rays near first place?
How are the Cleveland Indians five games under .500?
Fans could ask as the teams sped in different directions Wednesday night. Led by pitcher Carlos Carrasco, the Indians smothered the Rays’ offense once again. Carrasco was one pitch away from a no-hitter, finishing with an easy 8-1 victory over the slumping Rays.
Carrasco struck out 13 and gave up 10 ground balls in his effortless win, the best performance of an excellent pitching week for the Indians. Cleveland has won a three-hitter, a two-hitter and a one-hitter in the three games, and each time, they have had a perfect game through at least five innings. The Rays have had a perfect game thrown against them for at least five innings in four of their last seven games.
For the Rays, Joey Butler hit an 0-2 pitch with two outs into right field to break up the no-hitter.
The Indians have not had a no-hitter since Len Barker in 1981. The Rays have had five thrown against them.
Even before Wednesday night, there had been conversations as to whether this was the worst of all the Rays’ offenses. Tampa Bay has hit less than .250 as a team in five of the last six seasons.
Today, Matt Moore finally returns to the mound after missing 14 months for Tampa Bay. He faces last year’s Cy Young Award winner in Corey Kluber.
Despite three straight pitching gems, the Indians remain in fourth place, nine games behind the Orioles. The Rays have fallen into a tie for third.