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Sonny's day: Sonnanstine makes his first start of the season, taking the rotation spot of injured Jeff Niemann. The Ohio native has struggled against the Indians, posting a 3-3, 9.51 mark and allowing a .343 average overall (0-3, 10.67, .379 in Cleveland).

No Joshing: Tomlin, a 2006 19th-rounder, has been a hit since making his big-league debut in July. He's coming off his first loss but still pitched well at Oakland. He hasn't faced the Rays before.

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Quote of the day

"I like their pitching. I like their bullpen. They're playing with a lot of energy. It's no fluke. They're going to be there all year."

Rays manager Joe Maddon, on the surprising Indians

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Tribute of the day

The Rays on Friday will "retire" the official radio call signs of slain St. Petersburg police officers Thomas Baitinger, David Crawford and Jeffrey Yaslowitz, who all worked shifts at games, with a display on the back wall of the stadium beyond right-centerfield. "These men were a part of our Tropicana Field family," Rays president Matt Silverman said. Police Chief Chuck Harmon called it "a powerful, lasting tribute."

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UP NEXT

at Indians

Tonight-Thursday

What's new: The Indians are baseball's biggest surprise, sprinting to an AL-best 22-11 record. Their success has been a team effort, with an unheralded rotation, a power-armed bullpen and a deeper-than-you-think offense. ... OF Shin-Soo Choo is one of the best players you haven't heard of, C Carlos Santana is a rising star, DH Travis Hafner is back to being good. ... RHP Jeanmar Gomez was sent down, RHP Carlos Carrasco might be recalled to start Wednesday.

Key stat: The Indians have the best differential in the majors, scoring 48 more than they've allowed.

Connections: Rays C Kelly Shoppach and 1B coach George Hendrick played for the Indians, hitting coach Derek Shelton was a coach. ... Indians closer Chris Perez is from Bradenton; RHP Mitch Talbot, traded for Shoppach, is on the DL.

Series history: Indians lead 67-38 overall, 39-14 in Cleveland, where the Rays had an 18-game losing streak until winning twice last year.

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