Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Kluber, Indians try to extend AL Central lead vs. Rays

Corey Kluber and Blake Snell will square off Tuesday night at Progressive Field in what could be a top-notch pitching matchup, even though both are coming off losses. The Indians enter this game leading the American League Central by one game over the Royals.
Kluber had his worst performance of the season on Wednesday when he allowed eight runs on nine hits over five innings in the loss to the Royals. Prior to that, Kluber had allowed two runs or fewer in four of his previous five starts.
Kluber has made six career starts against Tampa Bay. He is 2-2 with a 2.75 ERA. Earlier this season, Kluber went 7 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on four hits in a 5-1 road loss. At the time it was Kluber's second loss during a three-game losing stretch to open the season.
Snell made his second Major League start on Thursday against the Mariners and lasted 3 1/3 innings, the second-shortest start by a Rays pitcher this season. Five runs scored on the rookie southpaw's watch, but only one of the runs was earned.
Snell allowed that he didn't use his fastball as much as he wanted to in his last start.
"I felt like my stuff was good," Snell said. "I just didn't use it the way I should have. But definitely learning from it and getting better."
The Mariners were able to drive up Snell's pitch count. He believes the problem is correctable by throwing strikes.
"Just believe in myself like I've been telling myself," Snell said. "Just have to attack more with the fastball. Make them swing the bats. That's definitely my game plan going into tomorrow and I'm excited about it."
Things to know about this game
• Evan Longoria has homered in nine of his last 15 games.
• It could be interesting if Hank Conger starts at catcher for the Rays on Tuesday. Rajai Davis leads the AL in stolen bases and Conger is throwing out just 15.4 percent of his attempted base stealers this season. On the bright side for the Rays, that is an improvement as Conger was at 2.3 percent in 2015.
• Kluber is 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA at home this season.

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