Five Rays pitchers no-hit Indians for doubleheader sweep

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Five Tampa Bay pitchers combined for seven hitless innings, and the Rays beat the Indians 4-0 Wednesday for a doubleheader sweep.

Collin McHugh (two perfect innings), Josh Fleming (7-4 after allowing one walk in 2 2/3 innings), Diego Castillo (one out), Matt Wisler (one inning) and Pete Fairbanks (one inning) combined for the hitless performance in a game shortened to seven innings under pandemic rules.

The game will not go into the official list of no-hitters. MLB’s eight-man committee on statistical accuracy decided in 1991 that a no-hitter was a game of nine or more innings that ended with no hits.

Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner pitched a seven-inning no-hitter against Atlanta in the second game of a doubleheader on April 25, another that did not officially count.

There have been seven official no-hitters this season, one shy of the high set in 1884, the first year overhand pitching was allowed.

Cleveland had just three baserunners, including Oscar Mercado, who reached safely against Josh Fleming after third baseman Wander Franco and shortstop Taylor Walls collided on a routine grounder leading off in the third. Originally scored as an infield single, the call was changed one inning later to an error on Franco for running into Walls.

Walls helped start a nifty double play to end the third when he slid to field Ernie Clement‘s grounder. Franco also made a pair of nice defensive plays on fourth-inning grounders.

Walls put the Rays up 2-0 in Game 2 on two-out RBI singles off Sam Hentges (1-4) in the second and fourth. Yandy Diaz extended the advantage to 4-0 on a fifth-inning two-run single against Nick Sandlin.

Hentges gave up four runs and five hits over 4 1/3 innings.

Kevin Kiermaier homered and drove in a career-high five runs, Vidal Brujan had an RBI single in his major league debut, and the Rays win the opener 8-1.

Franmil Reyes homered for the Indians, who have lost nine in a row. He homered and tied a career-high with five RBIs in Monday night’s 9-8 loss to the Rays.

It is the the longest losing streak during Terry Francona’s managerial time with Cleveland. The Indians dropped eight straight from Sept. 8-16, 2020, and from June 2-10, 2013.

In the opener, Kiermaier had a two-run double in the first and connected on a three-run shot off J.C. Mejia (1-4) during the third.

“I’m starting to feel a lot more locked in and, hopefully, I can just find that consistency along the way,” said Kiermaier, who went 2 for 3 to raise his average to .239. “Just anything you can do to help the team win and create momentum for you and the boys out there, that’s what it is all about.”

Kiermaier’s second homer of the season gave Tampa Bay a 6-1 lead in the third and ended Mejia’s day. Brandon Lowe and Brett Phillips added solo drives for the Rays.

Michael Wacha (2-2) allowed one run, four hits and struck out six in six innings. Ryan Sherriff worked the seventh to complete a four-hitter.

Mejia gave up six runs, four hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings.

Brujan had a remarkable first inning in Game 1, which saw the 23-year-old take away a hit from Amed Rosario in the top half by diving to his left on a hard-hit grounder. Brujan followed that up later in the inning with an RBI single, then stole second and scored on Kiermaier’s double for a 3-0 lead.

The doubleheader included a makeup of a game postponed Tuesday night due to Hurricane Elsa.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Indians: OF Eddie Rosario went on the 10-day injured list with a right abdominal strain.

Rays: OF Manuel Margot (left hamstring strain) was placed on the 10-day IL and is expected to be out two to three weeks.

UP NEXT

Indians: RHP Zach Plesac (4-3), out since May 26 with a broken right thumb, will return to start Thursday night’s game against Kansas City.

Indians: Rc (4-3), out since May 26 with a broken right thumb, will return to start Thursday night’s game against Kansas City.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.