|9:07 AM PT10:07 AM MT11:07 AM CT12:07 PM ET12:07 ET16:07 GMT0:07 9:07 AM MST11:07 AM EST11:37 AM VEN20:07 UAE10:07 AM CT, October 7, 2022
Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio Attendance: 30,741
Rays stumble into postseason against red-hot Guardians
Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Guardians
- Tampa Bay and Cleveland have met once before in the MLB postseason when the Rays scored a 4-0 road win in the 2013 AL Wild Card Game. That game is one of the two times Cleveland has ever been shut out at home in a playoff game (also Game 4 of the 1998 ALCS against the Yankees).
- The Rays have made the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, after making the postseason just four times in franchise history prior to its current streak. Tampa Bay joins Houston and Milwaukee as the only teams founded after 1901 to reach the MLB playoffs in four consecutive seasons.
- Randy Arozarena and Yandy Diaz tied for the club lead with 71 runs each. There were 13 MLB teams without multiple 75-run players this season -- Tampa Bay was the only one to make the playoffs.
- Cleveland is hoping to end its World Series drought, having last won it all in 1948. The only team in MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL with a longer active streak of not winning their league's title is the Arizona Cardinals, whose last NFL Championship came in 1947 as the Chicago Cardinals.
- Jose Ramirez finished the regular season with 124 RBI, 48 more than the Guardian with the next most (Josh Naylor, 76). Only once since RBI have been tracked (1920) has Cleveland's team RBI leader had a larger lead over the player in second place -- In 1998, Manny Ramirez had 145, 49 more than Travis Fryman.
- Shane McClanahan allowed five runs (all earned) in 4.1 innings against Cleveland on July 31 of this season. He has an 8.10 ERA in 10.0 career playoff innings. Shane Bieber is 2-2 with a 3.22 ERA in six starts against Tampa Bay and has one postseason start -- he allowed seven runs (all earned) in 4.2 innings against the Yankees in the 2020 Wild Card round.
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The Cleveland Guardians enter the postseason on quite the roll, winning 24 of their past 30 games to record the second-best 30-game, season-ending stretch in franchise history.
The American League Central champion Guardians (92-70) will look to continue their torrid run on Friday afternoon when they host the Tampa Bay Rays (86-76) in Game 1 of a best-of-three wild-card series. Tampa Bay, in turn, limps into the postseason with losses in nine of its past 11 games.
The Guardians concluded the regular season with a nine-game homestand, while the Rays ended their campaign with a nine-game trek that began in Cleveland on Sept. 27.
Guardians manager Terry Francona took a lighthearted approach when asked if the teams' recent schedules put Cleveland at a distinct advantage heading into the series.
"If they're out of underwear, yeah," Francona said. "Nobody wants to be out of underwear. You get to this point in the season and you kind of just play the game. I'm sure they would rather be on the road than not playing. We're happy to be playing. You just play and see who wins."
Cleveland, which won four of the six meetings against Tampa Bay in the regular season, will send right-hander Shane Bieber (13-8, 2.88 ERA) to the mound on Friday. He will be opposed by Tampa Bay left-hander Shane McClanahan (12-8, 2.54).
Bieber, like his team, finished the season with a flourish. The 2020 AL Cy Young Award recipient improved to 5-0 in his past six outings on Sunday after allowing one earned run in five innings of a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
The lone misstep for Bieber in that stretch was a no-decision against the Rays on Sept. 27. He permitted four runs on six hits in six innings. Overall, Bieber is 2-2 with a 3.22 ERA in six career appearances (all starts) versus Tampa Bay.
Bieber, 27, struggled in his lone career playoff outing in 2020, yielding seven runs on nine hits -- including two homers -- in a wild-card loss to the New York Yankees.
Jose Ramirez led the Guardians in homers (29) and RBIs (126) this season. He had one and six, respectively, against the Rays.
Rookie Steven Kwan, who batted a team-best .298 this season, went 11-for-28 (.393) versus Tampa Bay.
McClanahan, 25, struggled in his lone career outing versus Cleveland, surrendering five runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings of a 5-3 setback on July 31.
McClanahan answered a pair of rough outings with a strong one on Saturday. He allowed two runs on five hits over five innings in a hard-luck 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros.
"Made some big pitches. I feel like I responded really, really well after those last two (outings) I had," McClanahan said after that start, per the Tampa Bay Times.
"To come back out fighting and kicking and competing in the zone and trust the guys behind me, it was good to see. I feel like I'm at a good finishing point this year, and I'm excited for whenever I get the ball next in the postseason."
That comes Friday, when the Rays look to right the ship after a pronounced stretch of porous play.
"I just told them we can stop (stinking) now," Rays manager Kevin Cash said following Wednesday's 6-3 setback to the Boston Red Sox in the season finale for their fifth straight loss. "Let's find ways to win games."
--Field Level Media
Updated October 7, 2022