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For starters: Rays looking to win series with Cobb on the mound

Alex Cobb will be on the mound under what look to be clearing skies with no threat of rain.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Cobb will be on the mound under what look to be clearing skies with no threat of rain.

UPDATE, 5:44: Odorizzi said he threw 65 pitches over 4 innings in his sim game and went well, so he is set to rejoin the rotation on Monday in Miami, and Cash confirmed that is the plan. ... Both OF Colby Rasmus (hip surgery) and Mallex Smith (hamstring) will continue their rehab assignments tonight. ... Cash said he is sticking with Derek Norris, hitting .155 overall and just 1-for-his-last-19, based on the strong work he is doing behind the plate. ... Expect to see RHP Erasmo Ramirez in relief tonight as he ended up not being used yesterday.

UPDATE, 3:17: Here is the Rays lineup, with struggling Derek Norris - 1-for-his-last-19 - behind the plate catching Cobb:

Dickerson DH,
Kiermaier cf,
Longoria 3b,
Miller 2b,
Souza RF,
Morrison 1b,
Beckham SS,
Peterson lf,
Norris c,
Cobb p

And here is the Orioles lineup:
Smith rf
Jones cf
Machado 3b
Davis 1b
Trumbo dh
Castillo c
Kim lf
Schoop 2b
Flaherty ss
Bundy p

DEVELOPING: The Rays are looking to take a series from the Orioles tonight and will have Alex Cobb on the mound under what look to be clearing skies with no threat of rain. …

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Spin control: Video of Rays Longoria's foul ball that went fair

Credit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado for sticking with the ball to make the play.

Getty Images

Credit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado for sticking with the ball to make the play.

So what happens when you hit a foul ball with so much spin on the ball that it rolls back fair?

Rays 3B Evan Longoria found out last night, when he rolled a ball down the third-base line that actually hit the grass on the foul side of the basepath and then came back fair, with credit due to Orioles 3B Manny Machado for sticking with the ball to make the play.

Here is the video, courtesy of MLB:

 

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Rays Tales podcast: Matt Duffy's rehab, Chad Mottola's career, Todd Kalas' return

Marc Topkin talks with rehabbing shortstop Matt Duffy about how tough it is to watch his teammates play without him.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Marc Topkin talks with rehabbing shortstop Matt Duffy about how tough it is to watch his teammates play without him.

In episode 4 of our Rays Tales podcast, Times beat writer Marc Topkin talks with rehabbing shortstop Matt Duffy about how tough it is to watch and what podcasts he likes to listen to, Chad Mottola about his playing career and how it shaped his philosophies as a hitting coach and longtime Rays TV man Todd Kalas about his return to the Trop.

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Down on the farm: Look at some of the Rays prospects

Here’s a quick look at how some of the Rays prospects are doing through the first few weeks of the minor league seasons thorugh Tuesday's games:

TRIPLE A DURHAM

RHP Jacob Faria is 2-0 in 4 starts with a 4.12 ERA. He struck out 28 and walked 12 in 19 2/3 innings.

RHP Brent Honeywell, the organization’s 2016 minor league pitcher of the year, is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his 2 starts with the Bulls after starting the season at Double A Montgomery.

After impressive springs in big league camp, RF Jake Bauers and 1B Caey Gillaspie are off to slow starts. Bauers is batting .231 with a team-high 13 run scored and Gillaspie is hitting .179.

3B Patrick Leonard leads the Bulls with a .358 average. He’s driven in 13 runs.

C Curt Casali is batting .294 with 9 RBI, something that might be worth watching since Derek Norris and Jesus Sucre are underwhelming at the major league level.

LF Granden Goetman, from the nearby Palmetto, is batting .323 with 10 RBI.

SS Willy Adames has scored 10 runs and driven in 10 runs but is batting .209.

DOUBLE A MONTGOMERY

CF Nathan Lukes, who came to the Rays from the Indians last summer in the Brandon Guyer trade, leads the Biscuits with a .375 average.

HIGH A CHARLOTTE  …

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Rays morning after: How a bold move paid off in beating O's

Manager Kevin Cash's awareness of how fortunate the Rays were that their bold move worked out in scratching starter Erasmo Ramirez 20 minutes before first pitch because of the potential for an extended rain interruption that never came was evident in his post-game comment tagging one of the leading state-based analytical web sites.

"Great win,'' Cash said after the 2-0 victory over the Orioles. "Man, fangraphs is going to have a field day with that.''

The basis of their decision was concern that the forecast rain would cause a long delay that would artificially limit the innings they would get from Ramirez, who was to make his second start filling in for Jake Odorizzi before returning the bullpen.

They had kicked around a similar plan on Monday so as not to burn top starter Chris Archer but decided the forecast was promising, which proved true as there was no delay until the eighth.

But based in part of the information related by Orioles heads groundskeeper Nicole McFadyen plus what they could find on their phones and computers, Rays brass decided they were better off saving Ramirez and going with rookie Austin Pruitt for starters and the rest of their bullpen.

"We had a stronger forecast of rain tonight,'' Cash said. "We were pretty convinced starting the game starting the game we were going to have some sort of a stoppage within the first hour or so, hour and a half. Their groundskeeper did a tremendous job of keeping us informed, but it adjusted.''

The Orioles, obviously, had access to the same information, but gave no thought of similarly scratching starter Wade Miley.

Was there some chicanery in the Rays making such a late switch?

Manager Buck Showalter was understandably surprised when he got word of the change but insisted it didn't leave them unprepared.

"About, I'd say, 20 minutes before game time,'' he said. "Got a call from Kevin that they were going to start Pruitt. We go over all of them in the advance meeting. We have all the information we need."

In having Pruitt work three innings, Danny Farquhar and Jumbo Diaz the next two, Chase Whitley three and then closer Alex Colome the ninth, the Rays held the Orioles to just two hits, and set down 17 straight in one stretch.

"We kind of managed it like a spring training game and just kept giving different looks to everybody,'' Cash said, "and it just worked in our favor."

Showalter gave them some credit, though noting how the weather has forced cancellation of batting practice the last two days.

"They pitched real well,'' Showalter said. "Made a lot of quality pitches in some really tough conditions. There's a lot of excuses there if you want to reach for them, but we're not going to.''

This was actually the second time the Rays scratched Ramirez from a slated start against the Orioles, also doing so in spring training, substituting lefty Xavier Cedeno against a March 29 lineup built to face a righthander.

 

 

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Late change as Rays switch to Pruitt as starter due to weather

The Rays made a late switch announced just before game time and opted to have rookie RHP Austin Pruitt start rather than RHP Erasmo Ramirez, a move they said was due to uncertainty in the weather forecast in regards to rain interrupting play.

Pruitt, who has been working as a long reliever, last pitched on Saturday, so he is well rested. Though still sporting a 7.94 ERA, he has been pitching better of late, earning wins in his last two outings.

The Rays were looking for at least six inniings from Ramirez, who is making his second start in place of injured RHP Jake Odorizzi, who is due back Monday.

 

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For starters: Here we go again, weather permitting, Rays at O's

The scene in Baltimore this afternoon.

MARC TOPKIN / TAMPA BAY TIMES

The scene in Baltimore this afternoon.

UPDATE, 5:38: The forecast has improved, and the chances for the game to start on time and be played without interruption have increased, though the temperature seems to be dropping. ... Souza said when he woke up and the elbow didn't hurt too bad he texted Cash and said he was good to go. ... Cash said he went with Morrison in the lineup because Miley is not overly tough on lefty hitters and that he wants to get Morrison, Miller and Weeks going. ... RHP Jake Odorizzi's four-inning sim game was pushed back until Wednesday when the Rays hope to be able to get him on the field and so he is on a five-day schedule to return on Monday.

Here is the Orioles lineup:
Smith rf
Jones cf
Machado 3b
Davis 1b
Trumbo dh
Kim lf
Schoop 2b
hardy ss
Joseph c
Miley p


UPDATE, 3:05:
The weather remains uncertain but there is good news for the Rays regarding one injury issue as Souza is in the lineup and in RF. Also, there appears to be a nod toward better defense as Logan Morrison is starting at 1B against the lefty, with Rickie Weeks at DH. That alos means rookie Daniel Robertson is not playing.

Here is the Rays lineup: …

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Rays injury/rehab updates on Odorizzi, Duffy, others

Jake Odorizzi said he is over the left hamstring strain that landed him on the disabled list and ready to return when eligible Wednesday.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Jake Odorizzi said he is over the left hamstring strain that landed him on the disabled list and ready to return when eligible Wednesday.

Here are updates on severa of the Rays injured players:

* RHP Jake Odorizzi said he is over the left hamstring strain that landed him on the DL and ready to return when eligible Wednesday. But the Rays want him to throw a four-inning simulated game today, which means he likely won't make his return until the next time his slot comes up, on Monday in Miami, where he will have to bat, and run the bases. "I'm back, everything feels normal, I'm just waiting to get the ball,'' he said.

* RHP Tommy Hunter (calf strain) could be sidelined into June.

* LHP Xavier Cedeno (forearm tightness), was seen by team Dr. Koco Eaton and now will get a second opinion this week from noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

* OF Mallex Smith (hamstring) did rehab work in extended spring Monday (and took live batting practice off DL-ed prospect RHP Jose De Leon) and will play for the Stone Crabs tonight.

* OF Colby Rasmus (hip surgery), targeting a Friday return in Toronto, continued his rehab at Double-A Montomery, going 0-for-2 with a walk and is now 1-for-12 in his first four games. …

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Morning after report: Rays wasted too many chances, again

There was good reason to pin Monday's 6-3 loss to the Orioles on Chris Archer, given how he allowed three homers in a five-batter span bridging the sixth and seventh innings, quickly turning a 3-1 advantage into a 5-3 deficit, and didn't have much explanation for it except to say, over and over, that he needs to "execute at a higher level.''

But there was better reason to blame his teammates, who failed repeatedly to expand the early lead they took against Ubaldo Jimenez, with a Corey Dickerson leadoff homer in the first and a two-run double by Shane Peterson in the fourth.

"We definitely let him off the hook, didn't capitalize on some situations,'' OF Steven Souza Jr. said. "We've got to do a better job capitalizing when he's weak and preying on him.''

But this wasn't an isolated incident.

While there has been more attention, understandably, paid to the defensive miscues and bullpen blowups that have cost the Rays, their overall productive offense has shown a lack of killer instinct that surfaced repeatedly. …

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Video preview: Rays vs. Orioles vs. the weather in Baltimore

Marc Topkin checks in from windy Baltimore, where the Rays are scheduled to play the Orioles.

MARC TOPKIN | Times

Marc Topkin checks in from windy Baltimore, where the Rays are scheduled to play the Orioles.

Having gone 1-6 on their first road trip of the season, the Rays are aiming for better as they - weather permitting - open a nine-day, eight-game, three-city roadtrip tonight in Baltimore, with Chris Archer on the mound. It was windy this afternoon, as you can see, and rain is expected tonight:

Here is our video preview:

 

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Birthday present for Rays Steven Souza Jr.: AL Player of the Week honors

Steven Souza Jr. hit .414 for the week with two homers, 9 RBIs and 1.192 OPS over seven games.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Steven Souza Jr. hit .414 for the week with two homers, 9 RBIs and 1.192 OPS over seven games.

Rays OF Steven Souza Jr. got a nice present for his 28th birthday on Monday, the American League Player of the Week award.

Souza hit .414 for the week with two homers, 9 RBIs and 1.192 OPS over seven games, from Monday-Sunday.

It was his first AL Player of the Week award.

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For starters: Weather permitting, Chris Archer on mound vs. Orioles

The Rays have won all four of Chris Archer's starts this season.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

The Rays have won all four of Chris Archer's starts this season.

UPDATE, 6:33: The tarp is off the field and Archer is in the outfield starting to warm up.

Here is the Orioles lineup:
Smith rf
Jones cf
Machado 3b
Davis 1b
Trumbo dh
Castillo c
Kim lf
Schoop 2b
Hardy ss
Jiminez p

 

  …

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For starters: No Kiermaier in finale vs. Astros

 

RAYSUpdate: Rays place RHP Tommy Hunter in the 19-day disabled list with right calf strain  

RHP  Chih-Wei Hu has been recalled from Durham  Hi came to the organization from the Teins in the 2015 Kevin Jepsen trade  

 

The Rays will try to beat the Astros in the final game of this homestand without CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is still under the weather.

Kiermaier left Friday’s game after five innings because of an illness. He talked his way in Saturday’s lineup but was pulled after three at-bats – all strikeouts and all on three pitches.

Steven Souza Jr., will make his second start in center as a Ray. Shane Peterson moves to right, and Corey Dickerson will play left.

Logan Morrison moves up to Kiermaier’s No. 2 spot in the order and will serve as the DH.

Matt Andriese is one the mound for the Rays, who are trying to go 4-for-4 in series wins this season at the Trop.

No word yet on what is going on with the bullpen after RHP Tommy Hunter left last night’s game with tightness in his right calf.

ASTROS

Reddick RF 

Beltran DH 

Altuve 2B

Correa SS

McCann C

Bregnan 3B

Gurriel 1B

Aoki LF

Marisnick CF

Musgrove CF

RAYS

Dickerson LF

Morrison DH

Longoria 3B

Miller 2B

Souza CF

Peterson RF

Weeks 1B

Sucre C

Beckham SS …

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For starters: Kiermaier returns to lineup vs Astros

UPDATE, 4:08: LHP Xavier Cedeno will undergo further testing and exams to determine how long he will be out due to the forearm tightness. ... Cash said Kiermaier was still "not feeling very well" but said he was good enough to play. ... Managing without a lefty reliever will be "a little tricky,'' Cash said. They will rely on RHP Danny Farquhar, who is effective vs. lefty hitters with his changeup, though he may not be available tonight after a heavy workload.

DEVELOPING: The Rays try to rebound tonight from Friday’s sloppy 6-3 loss against the Astros, who lead the majors with 12 victories.

CF Kevin Kiermaier, who left Friday’s game after five innings because of an illness, is back in the lineup.

Blake Snell (0-2, 2.76) makes his fourth start of the season and is looking to pick up where he left off in his previous start, when he retired 10 of the last 11 batter he faced in Boston.

“I attacked the zone, threw a lot of strikes, made them put the ball in play. That is definitely what I liked most,” Snell said Friday.

And why did it take two innings before he stopped what he called “nitpicking?”  …

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Rays put LHP Xavier Cedeno on DL, call up RHP Ryan Garton

The Rays already beleaguered bullpen took another hit Friday with news that LHP Xavier Cedeno was placed on the 10-day DL with forearm tightness, though manager Kevin Cash said they don't believe it to be serious.

RHP Ryan Garton was called up from Triple-A, meaning the Rays won't have any lefties among the seven members of their bullpen.  RHP Danny Farquhar is likely to be used against lefties because of the success of his changeup.

Cedeno has been largely ineffective this season, but had insisted he was healthy and it was just a matter of regaining command of his pitches.

But today's news proved otherwise, as the Rays now will wait to see how long he is out.

 

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