Jeremy Hellickson tries to get both himself and his Tampa Bay Rays back into the win column this evening when they open a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Hellickson has lost his last four decisions and has pitched to a 4.45 ERA in his last six starts. He had to leave his last start on Saturday against Detroit after getting hit in the shin with a line drive. Hellickson absorbed the loss in that one, though, surrendering a run and four hits in 2 2/3 innings.
"I wasn't too concerned," Hellickson said. "I knew I was going to be sore, but it was just a bruise."
The start was Hellickson's first since returning from the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He is 4-4 on the year with a 3.44 ERA and hasn't won since beating Boston back on May 16.
Hellickson beat the Indians the only other time he faced them, scattering three hits over seven scoreless innings back on May 29, 2011.
He will be trying to get the Rays back on track tonight after the team saw their nine-game home winning streak over the New York Yankees come to an end with a 4-3 loss at Tropicana Field.
Carlos Pena gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead with a two-run homer in the seventh, but Kyle Farnsworth (0-1) walked the bases loaded a half-inning later, then issued a free pass to Alex Rodriguez to push across a run. Robinson Cano followed with a line drive up the middle off of Jake McGee, putting New York on top for good.
"Kyle Farnsworth is a big part of our present and our future. For us to get to the promised land he's got to perform better, which he shall," said Rays manager Joe Maddon.
Cleveland, meanwhile, enters tonight's tilt rolling after Michael Brantley and Casey Kotchman each launched three-run home runs on Wednesday in a 12-3 rout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Asdrubal Cabrera went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI, while Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Kipnis and Lou Marson all knocked in a run for the Indians, who won for the fifth time in their last seven tries.
Derek Lowe (8-6) allowed three runs on 11 hits and no walks with one strikeout to collect the win. Nick Hagadone, Tony Sipp and Jeremy Accardo closed out the final three innings for the Tribe.
"We made them work, and put enough runs on the board that gave Derek enough cushion to relax out there," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's been around, he knows how to pitch with a lead."
Getting the call for the Tribe tonight will be righty Josh Tomlin, who is 4-5 with a 5.85 ERA. Tomlin beat the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, but did not pitch well, as he allowed five runs and seven hits with three walks in six innings.
He is 0-1 in two starts versus the Rays with a 5.25 ERA.
Tampa Bay won four of its six meetings with the Indians last season.