CLEVELAND (AP) — Ryan Yarbrough handled Cleveland’s lineup into eighth inning in his first start this season and Kevin Kiermaier legged out a three-run, inside-the-park homer when two outfielders collided as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the slumping Indians 7-2 on Thursday night.
Tommy Pham, Avisail García and Willy Adames hit solo homers off Adam Plutko (1-1) as the Rays improved baseball’s best road record to 16-7.
Yarbrough (3-1), recalled before the game after a stint at Triple-A Durham, allowed two runs and four hits in a career-high 7 1/3 innings. The left-hander began the year in Tampa’s bullpen, but struggled and was sent down April 24 to work on his mechanics.
He looked fine-tuned against the Indians, who dropped their fourth straight and nearly lost two more players to injury on a freakish play in the sixth.
With Tampa Bay leading 3-0, Kiermaier hit a sinking liner to left-center. Rookie left fielder Oscar Mercado and center fielder Leonys Martin converged on the ball before slamming into each other as they each made all-out attempts at catching it.
Mercado took the worst of the crash as Martin’s left knee drove hard into his right hip. As the two Indians players lay helplessly in the grass, the ball ricocheted toward the left-field corner and Kiermaier easily circled the bases for the first inside-the-parker allowed by Cleveland since 2008.
Martin was shaken while Mercado appeared seriously hurt. He was down for several minutes before getting to a crouch and finally standing. Mercado did some jogging as an Indians trainer and manager Terry Francona looked on and he remained in the game only to be further tested in the inning as he had to race in to catch a short fly and line drive.
Mercado singled in the sixth before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. The Indians said he sustained a bruise.
The Rays didn’t waste any time getting to Plutko as three of Tampa Bay’s first six batters homered.
Plutko allowed just one hit — a homer — while winning his season debut against Baltimore on May 18. But the right-hander wasn’t nearly as effective this time, allowing eight hits in the first four innings and 12 in 5 1/3.
Pham connected on a 420-foot shot and García hit his ninth homer in the first. Adames led off the second with his fourth homer, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead that seemed even larger because the Indians couldn’t do anything against Yarbrough.
Rays: 3B Daniel Robertson was replaced in the fifth after suffering “an allergic reaction,” according to the team. … INF Yandy Diaz won’t get to face his former team after being placed on the injured list with a badly bruised left hand. He was hit by a pitch Sunday against New York and sat out two games before the Rays decided to give him extended rest. Diaz, batting .256 with nine homers and 22 RBIs, was acquired from Cleveland in a three-team trade in December.
Indians: C Roberto Perez sat out his second game in a row with a head injury suffered when he was hit in the mask by a foul tip Tuesday.
Rays: LHP Blake Snell (3-4, 3.31 ERA) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his previous start against Cleveland on Sept. 12. The reigning AL Cy Young winner has 30 strikeouts in his last three starts.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (3-2, 3.22) tossed a 15-strikeout shutout last week against Baltimore. His outing was just the 15th since 1908 that a pitcher had 15 strikeouts without a walk.