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Game Preview (8/23) vs. Cleveland

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Cleveland (68-56) at RAYS (51-73)
7:15; Tropicana Field
PAX (Rays TV)

Hey Devil Rays fans, Patrick Kennedy here! The Rays start a four game home set vs. Cleveland tomorrow, their last look at the Tribe this year. The Rays come into the series having swept the series the last time these two clubs met on Lake Erie last weekend. Hopefully we can keep that trend going, as the Rays have won eight of their last nine, and have the second best record in the bigs since the All-Star Break. Tomorrow's pitching matchup is:

CLE-RH Kevin Millwood (6-10, 3.11)
RAYS-RH Doug Waechter (4-8, 4.98)

BREAKDOWN: The Rays don't have a lucky draw tomorrow in Cleveland righty Kevin Millwood, who is the Tribe's best performing pitcher this year and has turned out to be the move of the offseason for Indians GM Mark Shapiro. The good news is that a Millwood start traditionally tails a line of shitty run support, as evidenced by his ten losses. Millwood has gone at least seven strong in each of his last three starts, including two stints of eight inning baseball. Millwood has had his unlucky years, a no-hitter, and two strong years which people seem to define his career by. It looks like this will be a third, but if I did my math right, it looks like Millwood is having a fluke year and is due for a collapse any moment. Using RaysBaseball's method of calculating DIPS ERA, I have found that Millwood's DIPS is 4.30, if I did my math right. That is 1.19 over his ERA, and you know what that means. So Millwood is having a good year, but all the signs are aligning for a collapse. He has not faced the Rays this year, and hasn't seen this team since 2001, when he was with Atlanta.

Taking the mound for the Rays is Dou Waechter, who is coming off argubly his finest start since his debut vs. Seattle. Dougie went nine innings vs. the Yankees last Tuesday, becoming the first Rays pitcher to do so since Rob Bell last October. But believe it or not, that wasn't a complete game. Yet still, it wasn't even a win for the Northeast High product. He gave up nine hits in the eventual win, but only one earned run and no runs in the last several frames. Making his 18th start of the year, Waechter does so with a sub-5 ERA, as his last start lowered it to 4.98. Same keys for Dougie as always, keep the ball down, don't allow the longball, yet don't be a pansy and not challenge hitters.

Two righthanded starters again. The Rays are facing a righty today, and since Toby hasn't gotten a game day off since Saturday the 13th in Cleveland, and has thus played in seven of the last eight days, expect to see the Canuck Pete LaForest behind the plate for the Rays. The outfield/DH should consist of some combo of Crawford-Gathright-Huff-Gomes, and on the infield should be Lee-Cantu-Lugo-Gonzalez, probably in that order.

BOTTOM LINE: The Rays are hotter than hell recently, and with Doug Waechetr on the upswing and Kevin Millwood due for a fluke, I like our chances vs. the Tribe. Once again, I reserve the right to take back my prediction when Corcoran blows up, but I was humbled yesterday, and will not underestimate our offense again. In the best case, the Rays open up an early 10-0 lead, Lou can put Corcoran in later on and allow him to get the rust out of his system without blowing the game, and all members of the pen are okay, providing that Colome too gets some work. But we don't live in perfect, so I'll settle for a closer outcome.

PREDICTION: Rays 7, Cleveland 3