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Corey Kluber on the mound as Cleveland Indians take on Rays

In the time it took me to write this GameThread, seven Indians hitters have struck out with a runner on second.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Indians vs Tampa Bay Rays

Friday, June 20, 7:10 ET, Progressive Field


Radio: WTAM

If the Cleveland Indians want to win their second series in a row, it'll require at least win against the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. After dropping the first game in the series last night, the Tribe find themselves continuing to struggle to reach the mythical .500 mark as they fell to 31-35 on the season.

Taking the mound for their series-tying attempt tonight will be Corey Kluber, who is coming off of a start where he gave up two earned runs and struck out only two Detroit Tigers batters in five innings of work back on June 14. The Klubot has given up at least two runs and struck out less than 10 batters in three straight games coming into today. It's a streak that is far too obscure and short lived to point to any actual struggles for the Tribe's ace, but it would be nice to see him return to his shutdown, double-digit strikeout form that we saw flashes of last month.

The key to winning is the same it's always been for the Indians: hit with runners in scoring position. Last night, like so many games, they failed to do so and it cost them a win. On the upside, they managed to land on one of the Rays' weakest pitchers for this Saturday matchup, Erasmo Ramirez, so there's a chance they could choose tonight to go off again. Ramirez, a right-handed pitcher, has a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings this season.

Jason Kipnis takes an "off day" with a stint at DH today, opening the door for Mike Aviles to get some more playing time at second base.

Today's Lineups

Kevin Kiermaier - CF Jason Kipnis - DH
Joey Butler - DH Francisco Lindor - SS
Evan Longoria - 3B Michael Brantley - LF
David DeJesus - LF Carlos Santana - 1B
Logan Forsythe - 2B Brandon Moss - RF
Steven Souza - RF Yan Gomes - C
Asdrubal Cabrera - SS Mike Aviles - 2B
Nick Franklin - 1B Michael Bourn - CF
Rene Rivera - C Giovanny Urshela - 3B
Erasmo Ramirez - RHP Corey Kluber - RHP

Let's go Tribe!