07/24/10 11:45 PM ET
Worth another look: Cleveland skid over
With replay's help, Progressive Field losing streak ends at 18
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Almost five years had passed since the Rays last defeated the Indians in Cleveland. During that period that saw the Rays take 18 consecutive losses, Jacobs Field became Progressive Field, George W. Bush gave way to Barack Obama in the White House, Lou Piniella left his post as manager of the Devil Rays -- who became the Rays -- and all the players, save for Carl Crawford, are gone from the team that took a 1-0 win over the Indians in Cleveland on Sept. 29, 2005.
So, yeah, Saturday night's 6-3 win felt somewhat historic for the Rays, who were beginning to wonder what they had to do to win a game in Cleveland. The answer finally came in a quality pitching performance by David Price and some much-needed timely hitting.
"That's a tough streak to have in baseball," Price said. "It doesn't matter what team you're playing, that's tough. So I guess for us to lose that many games here it's kind of amazing."
The Rays moved to 20 games over .500 at 58-38. Combined with the Yankees' loss, the Rays moved to three games back of the American League East leaders.
The Rays are 32-18 on the road and 4-4 on the current road trip that ends Sunday afternoon.
The Rays showed heart, erasing a 3-0 lead to storm to the victory despite a familiar face reappearing and seeming bent on making them regret they let him get away from them.
Former Rays prospect Mitch Talbot started for the Indians and enjoyed an auspicious beginning by retiring the first eight batters, including a streak of six consecutive strikeouts, which tied an Indians record shared by Bob Feller, Bartolo Colon and Chuck Finley.
Meanwhile, Price got off to a shaky start, allowing an RBI double to Shin-Soo Choo in the first and a two-run homer to Shelley Duncan in the second as the Indians took a 3-0 lead.
Price did not give in and held the deficit to three runs as the Rays batted in the fifth. That's when Ben Zobrist tied the game at 3 with a three-run homer to left field off Talbot with two outs.
Zobrist's hit ricocheted onto the field and initially was ruled a triple. But Rays manager Joe Maddon rushed onto the field to ask the umpires to review the play. After the men in blue watched Zobrist's hit land just above the yellow line, they quickly returned to the field to rule a home run, Zobrist's first since June 9, a span of 123 at-bats.
"I haven't driven many balls in that direction," Zobrist said. "I hit a ball well the other night and thought it was over a guy's head and it didn't get over his head. So I just wanted to see it hit the wall, something, to score some runs. I just assumed when he came back onto the field it was off the wall or something."
Carlos Pena gave the Rays a 4-3 lead with his 21st home run of the season in the sixth. B.J. Upton added an RBI double in the sixth, and Carl Crawford hit an RBI double in the seventh to put the Rays ahead, 6-3.
"I was very impressed with him [Talbot] actually," Pena said. "And not surprising at all because I remember when he was here he was highly talked about. So it didn't surprise me that he came out and pitched great those first few innings before we were finally able to get him."
Price put up all zeros after the second, leaving the game with no outs in the eighth and his 13th win of the season -- tied for tops in the American League -- close at hand after allowing just three earned runs on three hits and four walks.
"He's in the mid-to-high 90s, and when he mixes his offspeed stuff he becomes very tough," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's one of the elite guys in the league. We scored three early runs and thought maybe we could get more, but he put up five zeros."
The 24-year-old left-hander said the third inning proved to be the turning point for him.
"I came out and gave up runs in the first and the second, and I had to put a stop to it at some point -- if they keep scoring every inning we're probably going to lose," Price said. "I felt like the third inning was where I kind of found myself, and I was able to ride it into the seventh."
Place Saturday night's win in the feel-good category for the Rays.
"You just imagine we come into this game with all this stuff going on, we had not played well here, they get off to an early lead against David, who is throwing the ball 99 mph, and Choo rips one down the left-field line. ... All those little things you look at were going against us, then [Zobrist] turned it with the homer," Maddon said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.