Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 7/6/12
The Cleveland Indians aren't making up any ground in the AL Central race, but they've been playing better of late. The Tampa Bay Rays can't make that claim. Cleveland will try to match a season high with a fourth consecutive win Friday night when it continues its four-game series against the visiting Rays. Since totaling 11 runs during a season-worst five-game skid, the Indians (43-39) have gone 6-2 to keep pace with the surging Chicago White Sox, whom they trail by two games for the Central lead. The Indians, winners of six of seven at home, are batting .333 with 14 homers and 56 runs in their last eight games overall. Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantley and Travis Hafner all homered in Thursday's 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay to open this series. Choo will look to extend his home hitting streak to nine after going 2 for 3 on Thursday. He's batting .327 with eight home runs since moving to the top of the order May 14, after batting .235 with one homer up to that point this season. "He's been phenomenal," said Brantley, who has homered in each of the last two games. "It's nice to have somebody on base with the two, three, four guys coming up. It gives us a big boost, it's going to create more runs and hopefully he can keep swinging it the way he is. He looks real good." Tampa Bay's Luke Scott does not. By going 0 for 3 on Thursday - he played first base for the first time all season after 55 games as the designated hitter - he set a dubious club record with 39 consecutive hitless at-bats. "I would rather take a beating and be bleeding in the street than go through this," Scott said. "It is humbling and very deflating. I take it personally that I am not helping my team." The longest hitless streak in major league history for position players is an 0-for-46 drought, done last season by Eugenio Velez. Scott isn't the only Ray struggling at the plate. The club is batting .209 and averaging 2.9 runs per game during a 3-8 slump. "This was just a good ballgame that was lost," said manager Joe Maddon, whose team fell to 4-13 against the AL Central this season. "I have no problem with the way we played." Alex Cobb (3-5, 4.94 ERA) will try to help the Rays (43-40) avoid their first five-game road losing streak since a seven-game skid Sept. 7-13, 2009. The right-hander is 1-5 with a 5.77 ERA in his last six outings after posting a 2.25 ERA while winning his first two of 2012. Cleveland will counter with Justin Masterson (5-7, 3.92) as it tries to match its season-best four-game winning streak from June 18-22. Since losing three straight starts May 29-June 9, Masterson is 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA in his last four outings. The right-hander yielded two runs - one earned - in seven innings of Sunday's 6-2 road win over Baltimore. "Masterson was dominant the majority of the game," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was in command all day. He was able to throw that four-seam by guys whenever he wanted to at 95 or 96. Never a doubt." Masterson is 1-5 with a 7.14 ERA in seven career starts versus Tampa Bay.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rob Manfred: No significant rule changes in 2017, blames MLBPA

Report: Zach Britton has potential oblique injury

The Rock returns to WWE, leaves CM Punk a voicemail after 'Raw'

After outfield collision, Ichiro pranks teammate and claims he’s been cut

Simeon Rice gets vulgar with radio host over HOF debate

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ronda Rousey to be guest star on NBC’s ‘Blindspot’

Lakers replace Jim Buss with Magic Johnson, fire Kupchak

Report: James Harrison, Steelers share mutual interest in 2017 return

Jimmy Garoppolo’s mom keeping him up to speed on his trade rumors

Report: Clippers intent on keeping both Blake Griffin, Chris Paul

Slam dunks and startups: How all-star technology took over the NBA in The Big Easy

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Box Score 2/21: It's trade heartbreak season

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Movies you can stream now to get your football fix

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win 100 games with two different teams

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker