Indians manager Terry Francona may be in for a tough day Sunday.
The 1:40 p.m. ET start time will already mean a tough turnaround for an Indians team trying to bounce back from a 6-0 loss the previous night. Add in a matchup against the Rays' David Price, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, followed by a flight to Cleveland for Monday's home opener, and you have one tall order for a skipper trying to get some rest for his best players.
"We've got to kind of see how the game [Saturday] plays out to see where we do it, kind of talk to everybody," Francona said. "Price is a dominant lefty. We can't sit everybody. We'll pick and choose a little bit."
Price allowed two runs in six innings before leaving the Rays' Opening Day game with a 3-2 lead. Although the left-hander took a no-decision in his first start, he said he was happy with the way he performed in the matchup and that those games are usually the ones he remembers most.
"You look back at the end of the year, [and I think] if I could just do this a little better in that game, I might have under a 3.00 ERA," Price said. "Those are the games you have to try to keep in check so they don't spin out of control, because those are the ones that can really hurt you.
"Every inning, I felt like I had a runner in scoring position. Anybody can pitch when they have their best stuff. It's easy to go out there and compete and be competitive and go deeper in the games when you feel great. But the times that you don't feel like [you have] your 'A' game or really your 'B' game, there are times that you can go out there and just battle."
Price has done well in six career starts against the Indians. He's never lost a game against the Tribe, going 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA.
The Indians will answer with Justin Masterson, who was dominant in his opening start against the Blue Jays last Tuesday. The right hander hurled over 103 pitches through six innings, while giving up just three hits. The one earned run Masterson allowed also translated into a rally-killing double play in the third.
The Indians hope they get that same kind of dominance out of Masterson on Sunday, despite his poor history against the Rays. Masterson has had nine career starts against the Rays, going 1-7 with a 7.74 ERA. He pitched 8 2/3 innings against the Rays last season, allowing 16 hits and 12 runs.
Indians: Marson recovering
Indians catcher Lou Marson left Saturday night's game against the Rays following a hard home plate collision with Desmond Jennings. Marson suffered a cervical/neck sprain, but fortunately avoided a more serious injury.
"Neck's a little sore. He got me pretty good. It was clean, absolutely. He had nowhere to go," Marson said. "I had the plate blocked pretty good. But just my neck's a little sore. No concussions."
Coach Terry Francona said he doesn't expect Marson to miss much time.
Rays: Maddon's beef
Tensions might be a little higher going into Sunday's game. Rays manager Joe Maddon was none too happy about Indians reliever Cody Allen's plunking of Evan Longoria. Maddon admits he didn't actually see the hit that struck his star player in his left buttocks in the seventh inning, but said he could piece together what happened.
"I was actually cleaning my glasses at the time, so I didn't see it first-hand," Maddon said. "I heard about it, and it's pretty much a consensus opinion that he did it intentionally. However, I'll say one thing, unequivocally, I know it did not come from Tito [Terry Francona]. He would not do that."
Two walks and a groundout ended Ben Zobrist's four-game hitting streak going into Saturday's game. Zobrist led the league in doubles last season and is leading the Rays with seven RBIs.
Sunday will be the Indians' last game on artificial turf this season. They opened the year at Rogers Centre before coming down to Tropicana Field.
Gary Cotton is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.