Rays overpower Indians, try for sweep Sunday in key series

NFL
Tommy Pham, Roberto Perez

Tampa Bay Rays’ Tommy Pham (29) watches his two-run home run off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Zach Plesac during the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Catching for Cleveland is Roberto Perez. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tommy Pham helped the Tampa Bay Rays turn on the juice Saturday night — first with a blender, and then with his bat.

Pham and Avisail Garcia hit two-run homers, Ji-Man Choi and Travis d’Arnaud had solo shots, and the Rays beat the Cleveland Indians 9-6.

“I made a smoothie for me and (d’Arnaud) today, and he said, ‘If we both hit homers, you’ve got to keep making them,'” Pham said. “And we won. There’s a few guys want in.

“I might charge some guys,” Pham added with a laugh. “It gave us some exit velocity today.”

The Rays have won the first two games of the three-game set to tighten the AL wild-card race. Cleveland holds a half-game lead over Tampa Bay and Oakland for the first wild card.

“We’re talented,” Pham said. “It’s just a matter of us still working and putting everything together.”

Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor hit two-run homers for the Indians, who are also 4 1/2 games in back of AL Central-leading Minnesota.

Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis left in the seventh with right wrist discomfort.

“I’m not worried,” Kipnis said. “It’s been going on for a few weeks. It hurts when I swing, that’s pretty much all it is. I don’t see it to be anything that’ll keep me out, but we’ll see how it feels tomorrow morning.”

Indians left fielder Tyler Naquin was placed on the 10-day injured list before the game with a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee after getting hurt Friday, the second big blow to Cleveland’s lineup in a week after José Ramírez broke his hand.

Choi homered in the second and Pham connected in the third off Zach Plesac (7-5) as the Rays went up 3-2.

Pham reached 20 homers for the third consecutive year.

Plesac was pulled after walking d’Arnaud to start a three-run sixth that included Garcia’s blast off Tyler Clippard. Plesac gave up four runs and six hits in five-plus innings.

“It seemed like every mistake we made tonight, they made us pay for it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

D’Arnaud hit his solo blast during a three-run seventh, his 15th of the season.

“Certainly impressed with the at-bats,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Big hits.”

Santana drove his 31st homer off opener Diego Castillo in the first. The slugger had a one-out, third-inning double against Jalen Beeks (6-3), but Lindor was thrown out trying to score from first.

After Lindor hit his 26st homer in the eighth, Greg Allen cut the deficit to 9-6 on a two-run double in the ninth off Ricardo Pinto.

Beeks, the second of seven Tampa Bay pitchers, allowed four hits over three scoreless innings. Emilio Pagan retired both batters he faced in the ninth to get his 16th save.

STORM WATCH

The Rays and Baltimore will play a doubleheader Tuesday due to Hurricane Dorian. Wednesday’s finale of a three-game series was moved up one day. It’s the second doubleheader at Tropicana Field as the result of a hurricane. The Rays and Detroit split a pair on Sept. 30, 2004 following Hurricane Frances.

IN MEMORY

The Indians announced that former Cleveland catcher Hal Naragon died Saturday. He was 90. Naragon played parts of the seven seasons with the Indians, including with the 1954 AL champions.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since late May when he was diagnosed with leukemia, will be reinstated from the 60-day IL Sunday.

Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier (bruised left rib cage) went 0 for 3 with a walk after missing the previous four games. … RHP Tyler Glasnow (right forearm strain) could return in an opener/reliever role late next week. … LHP Brendan McKay (left shoulder fatigue) struck out eight and allowed one hit in three scoreless innings for Triple-A Durham.

UP NEXT

Indians RHP Adam Plutko (6-3) and Rays RHP Charlie Morton (13-6) are Sunday’s starters.

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