Inside the Wigwam

By: T.J. Zuppe

Tampa Bay Rays (57-37) vs. Cleveland Indians (40-55)

Pitching Probables

Friday: RHP Jeff Niemann (8-2 – 2.92) vs. RHP Fausto Carmona (9-7 – 3.65)

Saturday: LHP David Price (12-5 – 2.84) vs. RHP Mitch Talbot (8-8 – 3.89)

Sunday: RHP Wade Davis (7-9 – 4.41) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (3-8 – 5.25)

Inside the Wigwam News

Shut Down and Out: The Indians were shutout by the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday afternoon by a final score of 6-0. That marked the eighth time this season the Tribe has been held scoreless this season. That is the most by any team in the American League.

Indians Pitcher Aaron Laffey

No Laffey Matter: The Indians on Friday placed left-handed starter Aaron Laffey (2-3 – 4.62 ERA) on the 15-day disabled list, after he had been battling a period of dead arm fatigue that is common in spring training. Laffey started the year in the Tribe bullpen, but after being sent to Class-AAA Columbus to lengthen his innings, he was recalled and placed into the Indians rotation replacing left-hander David Huff. Since then, Laffey has been trying to get back into starter-shape, but has been struggling with arm-fatigue ever since.

The Indians will finagle the rotation, which will allow them to play with an extra position player until Tuesday, when the team will have to recall a starter. Right-hander Justin Masterson will take Laffey’s turn on normal rest, and the list of replacements include Jeanmar Gomez (who made his big-league debut last week in victory), Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin and Huff.

The good news in the situation is, with the open roster spot, the Indians activated outfield Shin-Soo Choo from the disabled-list. Choo suffered a right-thumb sprain just a few short weeks ago, but has recovered more quickly than expected.

Home Is Where the Wins Are: The Indians are on an absolute tear at Progressive Field, and are very anxious to return home to the friendly confines. In the last 11 games, the Tribe is a remarkable 9-2 on their home turf of downtown Cleveland. Partially to blame for the late success is the pitching staff, who over that period is staking claim to a 1.76 ERA in 102 innings of work. That streak is not just recent, as the Indians staff overall this year at Progressive Field has an ERA of 3.78 at home, compared to 5.11 on the road. It is safe to say that Progressive Field has turned into a nice little pitchers park. Another reason the Tribe is excited to return home is their late dominance of the Rays in Cleveland. The Indians have won their last 17 games over the Rays, dating back to the end of the 2005 season. All-time against the Rays at Jacobs / Progressive Field, the Indians are 38-12 for a winning percentage of .760.

LaPowerful LaPorta: First-baseman Matt LaPorta has been outstanding since being recalled from Class-AAA Columbus on June 27th. He has a modest six-game hitting streak, and since his return to Cleveland, is batting .353 (24-68) with four doubles, one triple, four homeruns, 12 runs batted in and 12 runs scored in 19 games. In those games, LaPorta is getting on base at a .421 clip, and his slugging percentage is .618. Those numbers combine for a 1.039 OPS number. LaPorta will hit seventh at first-base on Friday night at Progressive Field.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe

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