ST. PETERSBURG — Hey Austin Pruitt, what do you think about pitching against Dallas Keuchel?
Hey Austin, what about going against Chris Sale?
Pru … Corey Kluber?
Might there be a day when a young pitcher is asked what it feels like to pitch against Austin Pruitt?
"I really hope so, one of these days," Pruitt said. "That will be cool."
For the time being, the Rays rookie right-hander will have to answer questions about being matched up against some of the best starters in baseball.
The Rays have faced Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka, Astros LHP Keuchel and Red Sox LHP Sale in his first three big-league starts. Today he faces Indians RHP Kluber.
"He's been really challenged," manager Kevin Cash said. "You're always challenged against the hitters more than you are the opposing pitcher, but saying that, he's gone up against four really big names."
And held his own, too.
Pruitt is 1-2 in three starts but has allowed just six earned runs in 201/3 innings, with five coming in the first start in New York.
"Really impressed with the way Austin has gone out and executed his pitches, worked to the edges," Cash said. "I think the biggest thing that he has done that allowed him to have so much success over his last couple of starts is, he committed himself to throw strikes early in the count."
Pruitt began the year in the bullpen, where he struggled — 22 earned runs in 282/3 innings.
Now he's facing off against former Cy Young Award winners and opening day starters.
So how about it, Austin, what's it like pitching against aces?
"You focus a little bit more just knowing the guy on the other side throwing against you is pretty good," he said. "It kind of makes me a little more excited against that guy."
Quote of the day
"Don't do anything drastic. We're not flip-flopping the lineup or doing anything crazy. We're not benching guys for not having success."
Cash on what he can do to cure the anemic offense
Number of the day
4 Times in eight games Indians pitchers carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Rays at Tropicana Field, after RHP Carlos Carrasco (below) held them hitless for 62/3 on Friday.
A day of rest
Cash made two lineups Saturday afternoon, one with 3B Evan Longoria and one without him. After Longoria tested his bruised left thumb by swinging and fielding, Cash went with the lineup without Longoria.
"I feel pretty good, but I'm just going to take a day," Longoria said. "I think I could play, but probably the smart thing to do is let it feel a little bit better. … It's a tough call for me, but I'm just trying to make the smart decision so I can be 100 percent" today.
Longoria suffered the injury during the fifth inning Friday while trying to field a hard grounder by the Indians' Giovanny Urshela.
"You know what, this isn't the worst thing for Evan," Cash said. "We ask him to play all the time. He wants to be out there all the time. If we can get him a day off his feet that might be as important as resting his thumb."
. CF Kevin Kiermaier (hip, back) went 0-for-4 as the DH in a rehab start for advanced Class A Charlotte.
. The Indians wore uniforms from the 1975 season while the Rays wore their standard retro uniforms Saturday during Turn back the Clock Night.