|Indians look to snap out of funk against Rays|
The Cleveland Indians are mired in their worst stretch of the season, with the club surrendering 11 homers and allowing 25 runs during its four-game losing skid.
The Indians will bid to get back on track Friday against reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.
Tampa Bay belted four homers in Thursday's 7-2 victory to move a season high-tying 11 games over .500 and improve to a majors-best 16-7 on the road.
Avisail Garcia and Kevin Kiermaier each homered for the second time in as many games, although the latter's three-run homer came after Indians outfielders Leonys Martin and Tampa native Oscar Mercado collided in left-center field in the sixth inning.
"I never saw the ball -- at all. I was just running to run," said Kiermaier, who recorded his fifth multi-hit performance of the season. "At the time, I didn't know what was going on. I was so confused running the bases. I don't know what the heck happened."
Both outfielders stayed in the game initially before Mercado exited with a right hip contusion, leading to questions about his availability for Friday's contest.
"We both went at it full speed, and it's just one of those things where it's tough to call, because you don't know if you're going to get to it and it's just a last-minute -- we both reacted and dove," Mercado said. "Unfortunately, it resulted in that, but it's a learning experience."
Cleveland manager Terry Francona showed concern as he made his way on the field after the play.
"I went and looked at it, (and) we're probably lucky one guy dove and one guy slid," Francona said. "If they both dove that might have really been bad."
Tommy Pham belted a solo shot to extend his hitting streak to nine games, during which he is 11-for-34 at the plate with two home runs and four RBIs.
Pham is 2-for-8 in his career versus Friday starter Shane Bieber (3-2, 3.22 ERA), who will be hard-pressed to match his last outing. Bieber struck out a career-best 15 batters in a 10-0 shutout of Baltimore on Sunday.
Bieber owns a 1-1 record with a 3.00 ERA in two career encounters with Tampa Bay. Ji-Man Choi is 3-for-6 with two doubles against the 23-year-old.
Snell (3-4, 3.31 ERA) lowered his ERA by a full run over his last three starts, posting a 1-1 mark while allowing just three runs on 11 hits with 30 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings.
The 26-year-old received a hard-luck no-decision on Saturday after yielding one run on six hits with nine strikeouts against the New York Yankees.
Snell sports a 2-1 mark with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in four career starts against Cleveland. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his previous start versus the Indians on Sept. 12.
Jason Kipnis, who is riding an 18-game on-base streak, is 2-for-5 in his career versus Snell. Francisco Lindor is 1-for-12 with three strikeouts against the hurler.
--Field Level Media