(SportsNetwork.com) - When they met at the tail end of the 2013 season, it was in a one-game American League wild card playoff. But this season, the stakes aren't nearly as high for the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians.
Instead of playing for postseason advancement, the Rays and Indians will simply be closing out the schedule when they meet in the finale of a weekend series on Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field.
The Rays have been dogged by a lack of punch all season while compiling their first losing record since 2007. They're last in the league in runs and third from the bottom in home runs, ahead of Texas and Kansas City.
Tampa Bay lost via shutout in Friday's series opener, then scored just twice in a shutout victory of their own in Saturday's middle game. It was without slugging outfielder Wil Myers for nearly half the season, and saw production levels from other mainstays drop as well.
Evan Longoria has 22 home runs after hitting 10 more in 2013, while Matt Joyce has tumbled from 18 to nine. As a team, the Rays have dropped in doubles, stolen bases, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, batting average and runs.
Nonetheless, they've still pitched well.
Even without presumed aces Matt Moore and David Price due to injury and trade, respectively, the Rays will end with a better staff earned run average than a year ago.
Entering the would-be No. 1 starter's role since the Price trade has been right-hander Alex Cobb, who's 6-2 in 13 starts with a 1.49 ERA since the All- Star break.
He allowed a run on five hits in seven innings to defeat Boston on Tuesday.
"The one thing I've started to learn as I've gotten more experience is I can go out and battle when I don't have my best stuff," Cobb said.
Cobb was a winner in the aforementioned wild card game with the Indians last fall and is 3-1 with a sub-2.00 ERA against them in four starts.
Cleveland will finish above .500 for the second straight season, the first time it's done so in two or more years since going eight straight between 1994 and 2001. Still, the Indians have scored one or zero runs in four of their last five games.
Michael Brantley's single on Saturday did get him to an all-time level with the Indians, making him the first player in franchise history with 200 hits, 20 home runs, 20 steals and 40 doubles in a single season.
"It took forever for it to get back up the middle," Brantley said. "I wasn't sure if it was going to get there. It was like it was going in slow motion."
Rookie T.J. House finishes his season on the mound amid a recently successful surge.
His ERA over his last four starts is less than 1.50 and he's won four of six decisions in his last 13 starts while maintaining a 2.89 ERA.
On Saturday, Alex Colome threw scoreless ball into the seventh inning and three relievers combined for a five-hit shutout as Tampa Bay silenced Cleveland, 2-0.
Colome (2-0) worked the first 6 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out six. Joel Peralta completed the seventh, Grant Balfour retired the side in order in the eighth and Jake McGee struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his 19th save.
Myers ended up with two hits and an RBI for the Rays, while James Loney knocked in the other run.
Carlos Carrasco (8-7) fanned a career-best 10 batters, but walked three and allowed four hits and two runs -- one earned -- over 7 2/3 frames for the Indians.