ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Austin Pruitt and three relievers combined on a five-hitter, Jesus Aguilar had a three-run homer during a four-run seventh inning and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cleveland Indians 4-0 in a matchup of playoff contenders Friday night.
Pruitt allowed four hits and struck out six over 5 1/3 innings in his first start since Aug, 28, 2017. Oliver Drake (3-1) gave up one hit in 1 2/3 innings before Colin Poche and Andrew Kittredge each worked an inning.
Austin Meadows singled off Shane Bieber (12-7) leading off the seventh and went to third on a base hit by Travis d’Arnaud. One out later, Avisail Garcia hit an RBI single that ended Bieber’s night. Aguilar made it 4-0 with his three-run blast off Adam Cimber.
Tampa Bay entered Friday one game behind Oakland in the race for the second AL wild card.
The Indians began the day with a 1 ½-game lead over the Athletics for the first AL wild card and trailed AL Central-leading Minnesota by 3 ½ games.
Bieber gave up three runs and six hits, and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings.
Cleveland left fielder Tyler Naquin left with a sprained right knee after running full speed into the low wall in the corner after making an outstanding catch to take away a potential two-run, two-out homer by Joey Wendle in the fifth.
Aguilar also made a stellar play at first base, diving to the right to grab Yu Chang’s two-out grounder with runners on second and third in the third.
Hurricane Dorian is not expected to affect the three-game series, but Sunday’s series finale may be moved up an hour to 12:10 p.m.
There was a moment of silence before game for original Rays owner Vince Naimoli and the family of Tampa Bay Double-A pitcher Blake Bivens. Naimoli died last Sunday. Bivens’ wife, 1-year-old son and mother-in-law were slain Tuesday.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since late May when he was diagnosed with leukemia, rejoined the team and will be reinstated from the 60-day injured list Sunday. … RHP Dan Otero (right shoulder inflammation) will also return Sunday.
Rays: AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (left elbow bone chip surgery) threw 15 fastballs in his first bullpen session and is “very confident” of returning before the season ends. … CF Kevin Kiermaier (bruised left ribs) missed his fifth straight game. … RHP Tyler Glasnow, 6-1 before being sidelined in mid-May by a right forearm strain, walked one in a hitless inning during his first rehab start with Triple-A Durham.
Indians RHP Zach Plesac (7-4) will start Saturday. Rays LHP Jalen Beeks (5-3) is expected to start or follow an opener.