Rays prospect Colome stifles Tribe

Righty earns second win in final start with 6 1/3 scoreless innings

Rays prospect Colome stifles Tribe

CLEVELAND -- Alex Colome presents a pleasant problem for the 2015 Rays: Should he be used as a starter or a reliever? All clubs should have such weighty decisions.

Saturday night, Colome made a compelling case to continue starting in the Rays' 2-0 win over the Indians at Progressive Field. The win ensured that the Rays -- who went 36-45 at Tropicana Field this season -- will have a winning record on the road.

Colome has started virtually all of his career. Of his 141 Minor League appearances, 137 have been starts. And he's made eight Major League appearances, of which six have been starts.

Given that body of work, the reasonable decision would be to keep Colome on the same path. Complications come in the fact he's out of options, which means he must be on the 25-man roster at the start of the 2015 season or else the Rays would be at risk of losing him trying to send him back to Triple-A Durham for another season.

Looking at the starting pitching candidates for next season doesn't improve Colome's chances of being a starter, either. The Rays will have Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jeremy Hellickson, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi, with Matt Moore scheduled to return from Tommy John surgery in June, followed by Nate Karns and Colome. Based on that backup, Colome looks like he's headed for the bullpen if none of the group gets traded or comes up injured.

What Colome showed against the Indians Saturday night would play well in the rotation, or out of the bullpen. The 25-year-old Dominican right-hander experienced no bumps in a 6 1/3, 79-pitch outing, holding the Indians scoreless on four hits and a walk while striking out six to move to 2-0 on the season.

Rays manager Joe Maddon opted to remove Colome after he retired Yan Gomes, the leadoff hitter in the seventh.

"I thought after we got that out on Gomes, I wanted to get him out," Maddon said. "He's going to leave. He's going to go home feeling really good about himself. I did not want anything negative to happen to him tonight. He did a great job."

Colome said he was more comfortable starting than he is coming out of the bullpen, but he wants to be in the Major Leagues next season.

"I will show up at Spring Training, whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do my best," Colome said.

After getting shut out Friday night and striking out 12 times, Tampa Bay continued to struggle offensively Saturday night against Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco. But the Rays did take advantage of their opportunities.

Carrasco held the Rays hitless and scoreless through three innings before David DeJesus scratched out an infield single to start the fourth. Evan Longoria then reached on a botched force attempt at second when third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall's throw went into right field. DeJesus moved to third on the play, and one out later he scored on Wil Myers' single to right.

In the eighth, Ben Zobrist led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on a groundout. After Longoria grounded to shortstop for the second out of the inning, Marc Rzepczynski took over for Carrasco and James Loney greeted him with an infield single that drove home Zobrist and put the Rays up, 2-0.

Carrasco held the Rays to one earned run on four hits and three walks while striking out 10, but he took his seventh loss of the season.

"The runs he gave up, the first run was an infield hit," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We get the double play ball and throw it away, so it's first and third, nobody out and they haven't hit the ball out of the infield. And he limits them to one run, throws 19 pitches and then continues on. That speaks volumes in itself."

Myers smiled when asked why Carrasco was so effective.

"Well, he was throwing 97 with movement," Myers said. "Any time you can do that, it's pretty good."

Rays hitters had just five hits Saturday night following Friday night's performance when they also amassed just five hits. But this time they came away with timely hits and earned a win.

"Fortuitous in a sense," Maddon said. "We've been challenged in that regard."

The Rays have now been involved in 40 shutouts this season, posting a 22-18 mark in those games.

"Our guys have been pretty darn good," Maddon said. "It's part of the baseball fabric. ... Pitching's getting good."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.