Sometimes a series comes along where you say "Something's gotta give", and we have the ultimate one of those kind of series beginning at 7:05 on Tuesday night when the Tampa Bay Rays come to Progressive Field for the first of three games.
Tampa Bay began this season 1-8, but have since won 19 out of 25 to barge to within percentage points of the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East. And the Rays have made their charge primarily on the road.
The Rays sport an 11-4 record away from Tropicana Field, and have won a single-season club record eight straight road games.
And with the Indians having won 13 straight at home, truly -- something has to give in the next three days.
The Rays are sending Andy Sonnanstine to the hill in a spot start to replace injured Jeff Niemann. Sonnanstine (0-0, 2.19 ERA), from Brecksville, has not had much success in Cleveland, going 0-3 in just 14 1/3 innings covering three starts, and has allowed 25 hits and five homers, including a pair to Jack Hannahan.
For his career against the Tribe, Sonnanstine is 3-3 with a 9.51 ERA.
The Indians counter on Tuesday with Josh Tomlin, who lost in his last outing against Oakland, but surrendered only three runs in 7 2/3 innings. Tomlin (4-1, 2.43 ERA) is perfect at home in 2011, having gone 3-0 in three starts with a 2.37 ERA.
Tomlin will be facing Tampa Bay for the first time in his career.
Offensively, the Rays rank 16th in the Majors with a .248 team batting average. Tampa Bay is led in hitting by Casey Kotchman, who comes in hitting .355, while in players with over 100 at-bats, Ben Zobrist leads at .289.
Zobrist holds the team lead with seven round-trippers, and also leads Johnny Damon by one with 25 RBI.
Tampa Bay ranks fifth in the Major Leagues with a team ERA of 3.23. That, folks, is an impressive stat for a team which plays half of their games on the carpet and indoors in Florida.
The Indians are fifth in the Majors in hitting (even after their trip to the hitters' graveyards of Oakland and Anaheim) with a .266 mark, and are led by Travis Hafner, who is clipping along at .347. Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana have all gone deep five times, and the Tribe is led in RBI by Asdrubal, with 22.
Pitching-wise, the Indians come in tied for sixth in ERA at 3.25 as a team.
This series will continue on Wednesday night before concluding with an afternoon-matinee on Thursday, before the (also somewhat rejuvenated) Seattle Mariners come to town for the weekend.