Wander Franco hopes to stay hot against struggling Guardians

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Aug 11, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco (5) celebrates after hitting a two run single in the third inning  against the Cleveland Guardians at Tropicana Field.
Aug 11, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco (5) celebrates after hitting a two run single in the third inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Tropicana Field.
Image: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Standout shortstop Wander Franco takes aim at his sixth multi-hit outing in seven games when the Tampa Bay Rays face the Cleveland Guardians on Saturday in the middle contest of a three-game set at St. Petersburg, Fla

Franco was both lifesaver and hero in the opener on Friday when he smacked the first walk-off homer of his career in the bottom of the ninth to give the Rays a 9-8 victory


Tampa Bay blew a three-run lead in the top of the inning despite the Guardians not getting a hit

"It was good. We never keep our head down," Franco said afterward through an interpreter. "We kept it up. We kept the faith.


Said manager Kevin Cash, "(Franco) picked us up in a big way. He has been on a tear.

Franco is batting .431 (22-for-51) over the past 13 games. He has six homers, 11 RBIs and 14 runs during the span

Franco was 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs on Friday. The homer was his 17th of the season. He also stole his 30th base

He also went to his right to field Steven Kwan's grounder in the eighth inning and unleashed a perfect jump throw to first to easily retire the left-handed hitter


"I'm just going out there and just playing my game," Franco said. "Just showing off my talent the best I can, and thank God I'm able to show that.

Isaac Paredes hit a two-run homer for the Rays. Paredes has a team-best 69 RBIs and is tied for the team homer lead of 23 with Jose Siri


Cleveland scored four runs over the final two innings but the result was the team's 10th loss in 14 games

"It's why you keep playing because it's a hard game to win," Guardians manager Terry Francona said. "We gave ourselves a chance.


Cleveland had plenty of chances but was just 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base. All three of the ninth-inning runs scored on wild pitches

In the seventh inning, an error by Guardians second baseman Andres Gimenez helped Tampa Bay score three runs in an inning without getting any hits


Myles Straw homered for Cleveland. It was his first since Aug. 26, 2021

"Needed it for sure," said Straw, who was 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. "It felt good.


Guardians standout third baseman Jose Ramirez is still waiting on his appeal of a three-game suspension related to his on-field fight with Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox. Francona said he expects a verdict soon

"I think we're closing in on it, I really do," Francona told reporters before Friday's game. "I know the (players association) has been talking. So, I think we're close. I just don't know when they're going to announce it.


Rookie right-hander Gavin Williams (1-3, 2.90 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday for the Guardians. The 24-year-old aims to follow up a dominating effort

Williams struck out a season-best 12 and gave up one hit and one walk in seven innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday. He received a no-decision


It marks the second time in nine big league starts that Williams gave up just one hit over seven shutout innings. The other was against the Kansas City Royals on June 27. He also received a no-decision in that outing

Right-hander Shawn Armstrong (0-0, 1.15) will serve as the Rays' opener for the fourth time this season


Tampa Bay was hoping to start right-hander Tyler Glasnow (back) but decided to push him back to Monday

Armstrong has allowed just 20 hits in 31 1/3 innings this season. He has struck out 34 and walked six


Armstrong, 32, is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six career relief outings against Cleveland, a franchise he pitched for from 2015-17

--Field Level Medi