April 25, 2014

Elyria
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Tribe loses 9-2 to Rays in wee hours of Saturday morning

CLEVELAND — Nearly five hours worth of rain delays didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Indians fans on Friday night.

Tribe reliever Scott Barnes, however, managed to throw a wet blanket on the crowd once play resumed.

Barnes allowed five runs in the third inning, including two-out homers to Matt Joyce and James Loney, as the Tampa Bay Rays broke open a scoreless game and handed Cleveland a 9-2 loss.

The game started at 9:02 p.m. Friday and was delayed three times for a total of 4 hours, 49 minutes. Play resumed for good at 12:13 a.m. Saturday, while the final pitch was thrown at 2:53 a.m.

“After going through that long wait (in the middle of the second), that inning really took the wind out of our sails,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We were hoping to get some length from Scott to get us into the mid-part of the game, but it didn’t work out that way.

“It was a rough inning and a rough night.”

It could have been even rougher as the Tribe came perilously close to being no-hit by Rays pitchers Matt Moore, Jamey Wright, Josh Lueke and Cesar Ramos.

Ryan Raburn’s fifth-inning double off the wall was Cleveland’s lone hit — and it could have been caught by Tampa Bay right fielder Joyce, whose badly mistimed leap was borderline comical.

The only other Indians to reach base safely were Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs, who drew walks after Moore and Wright carried a perfect game into the fifth.

“Their pitchers were good, but we swung at a lot of their pitches, instead of waiting for ours,” said Tribe third baseman Mark Reynolds, who went 0-for-3. “It was a weird night, but that’s part of baseball.

“I would much rather have played it tonight than have a doubleheader later in the year. Since Tampa Bay doesn’t come back here and we’re done playing there, that was the only other option.”

Moore and Cleveland starter Corey Kluber both exited when play was halted for the second time after 1 1/2 innings. The scenario appeared to favor the Indians as Moore has been the best pitcher in the American League with an 8-0 record and 2.18 ERA.

It didn’t turn out that way as Barnes (0-1, 7.27 ERA) was shelled for four hits, one walk and five runs in his lone inning of work. The Rays’ other four runs — topped by Loney’s second homer — came in the final two innings off Bryan Shaw and Rich Hill.

“I know my role, which is to pick up three innings if needed, but it didn’t work out today,” Barnes said. “I left a few pitches up and I had to pay for it. It was my bad.”

Wright (1-1, 3.12 ERA) followed Moore and pitched into the fifth inning. He struck out four and allowed two runs, both of which were unearned because of an error by Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria and a wild pitch by Lueke.

Yan Gomes drove home Swisher with the Indians’ first run on a sacrifice fly, while Raburn’s double scored Reynolds.

Ramos entered in the seventh with the Rays leading 6-2 and went three innings for his first MLB save.

The Tribe used six pitchers as Matt Albers and Nick Hagadone went two scoreless innings apiece after Barnes’ implosion.

“If you’re going to stick around for that long, you might as well win,” said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who added that Moore could start Sunday in the three-game series finale.

Longoria agreed, going on his Twitter account immediately after the game to salute the approximately 3,000 fans that were around at the end. There were 29,603 in attendance at the scheduled first pitch of 7:05 p.m.

“A sincere thanks to each and every fan that stuck around to watch that game,” Longoria said. “You all made it fun. Cleveland rocks.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.