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Game Preview; Wednesday (9/28) vs. Cleveland


Rays (66-91) at Cleveland (92-65)
7:05; Jacobs Field
ESPN (US? ESPN?)

PITCHING MATCHUP:

RH Seth "Big Red" McClung (6-11, 7.11)

LH Cliff Lee (18-4, 3.90)

RAYS SWEEP THE INDIANS: WATCH IT HAPPEN

KEYS TO THE GAME:
Hitters-Convert Lee's high G:F into homers
Bullpen: Hold the lead

UPCOMING GAMES:
Thursday-at Cleveland (Fossum)
Friday-vs. Baltimore (Waechter)
Saturday-vs. Baltimore (Hendrickson)

RAYS LINEUP:
SS Lugo
2B Green (Hopefully his last start-EVER)
DH Cantu
1B Perez (In against lefty)
RF Huff (In the field again)
LF Gomes (LF? What the hell?)
3B Gonzalez (At least Lou didn't put Cantu at third)
C Hall
CF Hollins (Last start of season?)
Crawford: Not starting

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!


Rays (66-91) at Cleveland (92-65)
7:05; Jacobs Field
ESPN (US? ESPN?)

Well, needless to say, the Rays made me very happy yesterday. Normally, in a situation like this, when we are playing a team I like in the midst of a hard playoff race, I would advocate lying down for them, especially if they had a chance to knock the Yankees or Red Sox out of the playoffs. Hell, even knocking the White Sox out.

But as it is, I have $25 riding on a series sweep. Funny how money changes your line of thought, eh? Anyways, the Devil Rays played an exemplary game in all facets yesterday, except for the bullpen. Scott Kazmir surendered only one run over six innings, though he did almost give up a few more based on walks, and notched the Rays' all-time single season strikeout record. By the way, congratulations Scotty! The bullpen almost blew it, by that you can immediatly tell that Trever Miller pitched, and Danys Baez allowed one run to score, and runner to get to the corners with one out in the ninth, before a game ending double play sealed the 5-4 victory.

On the offensive side of the board, as I mentioned in yesterday's game preview, Elarton was killed by the long ball, as Julio Lugo hit a three run shot and Alex Gonzalez hit what turned out to be a key solo shot to give the Rays a 5-1 lead. Nonetheless, the Rays have got to understand that they will not be recieving many four run leads in the late innings in this  series, it will be much closer, and without Chad Orvella, it is even more imperative for the Rays to step up. Cliff Le is a much more solid pitcher, and the bullpen will likely have to hold a much closer lead, if one at  all.

PITCHING MATCHUP:

RH Seth "Big Red" McClung (6-11, 7.11)

LH Cliff Lee (18-4, 3.90)

BREAKDOWN: Which Seth McClung will we see today? The one who has an 8.08 road ERA and gave up seven runs in two innings last time out? Or the one who utilizes his great stuff and has shut the Indians down in two previous starts this year, surendering four runs in 12.1 innings? Seth McClung has been a prime example of an up and down pitcher. He could shut out a team over seven innings one start, and then get knocked out after two innings the next.

Well, because this is Seth's final start of the season, and he was awful in his last start against Boston, if the trends hold true, several Indians could be repairing holes in their bats at the end of this one. Hell, if Seth throws a complete game shutout, I will give him every single penny of the $25 if I win. I'm sure against the backdrop of a six figure sum, that will mean all the difference in the world, but just some added motivation, Big Red!

Meanwhile, the Indians send Cliff Lee on a trek to the mound on the other end. Lee has been much more conisistent, and much more successful this year for the Indians. There is a thought spreading around the Indians' circles that he may start once on three or four days' rest over the weekend to try to notch his 20th win should he beat the Rays today. Well, looks like he can rest up for the playoffs or golf, because he ain't gonna win today.

But looking at Lee's stats, I've got to figure that this guy has his own personal leprechaun, because you cannot find a luckier person. A 3.90 ERA and 18 wins do not tradiotionally go hand in hand, neither does 3.90 and only four losses. Then again, neither does Mark Hendrickson's 6.06 ERA and 11-7 record.

Nonetheless, Lee has been integral to the Indians' success this year, eating more innings than C.C Sabathia does hot dogs, and that's saying something. If Lee does well enough tonight, he could eclipse the 200 inning barrier, as he is six frames away. But we know that he'll be lucky to get to 197, right?

Lee struggled last time out against Kansas City, which, by definition, can only be good news for us, giving up six runs on 10 hits over 6.2 innings. The bad news is, Lee has not been too shabby against us this year. Let's just forget about him shutting us out over eight innings on August 14th, and focus on his last  start against the Rays, in which he gave up four runs (three earned) over six innings. Hopefully, the third time is the charm and the Rays can rock Lee's boat in what might be his final regular season start.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The bottom line is, reading this makes me sound like more of a homer than Hawk Harrelson. And you know what? I don't care. You want unbiased reporting, go read the liberal media. I'm here to report from a Devil Rays perspective. Though I will admit, a Jackson and a Lincoln certainly play a role.

Anwyays, what oh what can the Rays do to win today's game? Looking at Cliff Lee's peripherals, he seems to have a good grasp on most all areas that you look for in a pitcher. And while 22 home runs isn't Scott Elarton-awful, it isn't great either. He has allowed a .297 opponent's OBP, so you aren't going to get many free passes, but following up on the home run thing, he does have a pretty bad G:F ratio of 0.62. Hopefully those line drives can find their way over the fence today.

As for Big Red, he is not too strong in any peripherals, and while it is tempting to say 'just pitch well', that is not what I am here for. So instead, we will turn to the bullpen. Whether Big Red does well or not, as you all know, is a crapshoot, but the bullpen has got to hold the lead. Again, that might seem simple, but this is as important as anything to the Rays' success in the game.

The Rays got lucky last night, but you just don't take too many 5-1 leads into the late innings against Cleveland, you just don't. Therefore, it is integral that the bullpen pitch better for us to win. I said it before, and I'll say it again, if we are to win this, it will probably be close, and giving up even two or three runs will likely doom us.

RAYS SWEEP THE INDIANS: WATCH IT HAPPEN

KEYS TO THE GAME:
Hitters-Convert Lee's high G:F into homers
Bullpen: Hold the lead

UPCOMING GAMES:
Thursday-at Cleveland (Fossum)
Friday-vs. Baltimore (Waechter)
Saturday-vs. Baltimore (Hendrickson)

RAYS LINEUP:
SS Lugo
2B Green (Hopefully his last start-EVER)
DH Cantu
1B Perez (In against lefty)
RF Huff (In the field again)
LF Gomes (LF? What the hell?)
3B Gonzalez (At least Lou didn't put Cantu at third)
C Hall
CF Hollins (Last start of season?)
Crawford: Not starting

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!