Rays 7/7/15 Double Header Starting Lineups, Etc.

The scene at Kauffman Stadium — things look good... for now

Kauffman Stadium, circa July 6, 2015 before the goddamn deluge. (Photo Credit: Marc Topkin)

Game One Update:

For the fourth time in five road games, the Tampa Bay Rays fell in walk-off fashion. This time the Rays lost in grand-slam fashion by a score of 9-5, after Brad Boxberger allowed three batters to reach after getting the first out of the inning. He then gave up the slam to rookie Paulo Orlando.

For his part, Boxberger said there were times he didn’t know where was ball was going, and the homer was on change-up.

However, as the saying goes, you can’t win games if you don’t score runs — and the team had an opportunity to plate more than their five runs in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings against Chris Young and a Royals ‘pen that looked less than stellar. Compound that with a second frame when Matt Moore, who lacked command throughout the course of his outing, gave up two runs with two outs. In that inning, Moore walked one and hit to Royals with pitches (Drew Butera and Alex Gordon). 

We’ll have a proper recap of both games later. Until then, you can relive the first contest in all of its gory glory at our Tumblr page, where I live blogged the first of two.

Due to the inclement weather in the greater Kansas City area, the series opener between the Rays and Royals last night was postponed. As of 6:00 PM CDT on July 6, a tornado warning forced the evacuation of the media from the press area in Kaufman Stadium, while heavy rain wiped out any chance to get in a ball game last.

The teams will play a day/night double header today at 2:10 and 8:10 (respectively). The Rays will start LHP Matt Moore in the first game of the double header, opposite of Chris Young. They’ll also call up RHP Matt Andriese (as the 26th man) to pitch in the second game (instead of Alex Colome), opposite of Volquez.

Rays 7/7/15 Starting Lineup — Game 1

Sizemore DH
Butler LF
Longoria 3B
Loney 1B
Forsythe 2B
DeJesus RF
Elmore SS
Kiermaier CF
Rivera C
Moore LHP

Rays 7/7/15 Starting Lineup — Game 2

Jaso DH
Sizemore LF
Longoria 3B
Loney 1B
Forsthye 2B
Cabrera SS
Guyer RF
Kiermaier CF
Casali C
Andriese RHP

Noteworthiness

A roster move is afoot. RHP Andrew Bellatti is with the team in Kansas City, although a roster move has not been announced. Per Marc Topkin, it doesn’t sound like Bellatti will be activated for the second game today, and it’s likely he’d be added after the game.

— Did y’all really think there was going to be a game last night with all of this rain?

— The Rays have placed Steven Souza on DL, activated John Jaso from the DL, and DFA’d Preston Guilmet. You can read more about that, and this afternoon/tonight’s pitching matchups, in our series preview.

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The New What Next: Rays vs. Royals ― A Series Preview

Ouch!!! (Photo Credit: Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports)

Ouch!!! (Photo Credit: Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports)

Seven days after the start of a season high seven game losing streak, the Tampa Bay Rays snapped an ugly, ugly skid by beating up on Ivan Nova and the New York Yankees ― taking down the Evil Empire by a score of 8-1. The contest had everything one could ever want in a ball game: good pitching (thanks Erasmo), timely hitting, quality defense, and a comedy of errors by the Yankees.

However, one thing was missing from ESPN’s game recap on Baseball Tonight: the Benny Hill Show theme music.

I digress.

Breathe a collective sigh of relief while you can, after all it isn’t going to get any easier for Tampa Bay.

Tuesday harkens the beginning of a tough stretch of seven games against a pair of division leaders, heading into the All Star Break. First stop Kansas City, where the Rays will take on the reigning American League champions.

The Rays roster has been bolstered by the activation of John Jaso (bruised left wrist) from the DL. Jake Odorizzi (left oblique strain) is also expected to be activated this Sunday. However, the team lost another player to the injury bug ― Steven Souza. The question begs, how will this series of moves effect the roster?

Alex Colome’s last start (at least for the time being) was set for Monday, however, the weather in Kansas City had other ideas. Because of the rainout on Monday, the Rays opted to recall RHP Matt Andriese, who will make a spot start in game one of the day/night double header on Tuesday. Odorizzi, who made his last rehab start with the Charlotte Stone Crabs on Monday, is scheduled to return Saturday, leaving either Colome or Erasmo Ramirez to be moved to the bullpen to open a spot in the starting rotation. The team is weighing several factors ahead of the decision, including who could be more use as a reliever. However, at 7-2 with a 2.17 ERA in his past 10 starts, I cannot see how the tandem of Matt Silverman and Kevin Cash could pull Ramirez from the starting rotation. The decision to activate Andrew Bellatti could also factor into things. As it stands, that decision will be based on the needs of the bullpen.

Jaso was removed from his final rehabilitation game at Durham after just two at-bats and three innings in the outfield, and was activated from the 60-day disabled list. He will make his first major league appearance since bruising his left wrist on opening day.

Steven Souza’s status complicated things to an extent. The right-fielder suffered an injury in Sunday’s game after getting hit by a pitch the eighth inning. Souza left the game early with a substantial gash in his right pinky that required stitches.

I can’t really bend it too well right now, Souza said after the game. I’m hoping I wake up (today) and it feels a little better. I don’t have much feeling in my pinky right now, which is kind of a worry for us.

He continued,

It was a really deep cut. The cut was deeper than the doctor thought it was when he opened it up. … We don’t know what’s in there.

Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), “Souza was relieved that further examination of his right pinky by a hand specialist confirmed there was no break and that the tendon appeared intact despite the deep gash.” However, he still has no feeling in pinky and there is some nerve damage although he doesn’t know the extent. Souza was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 6. He is eligible to return on July 21. They also designated Preston Guilmet for assignment in order to clear more roster space.

Since Souza was placed on the DL, the Rays don’t need to make a roster move, at the moment, in order to activate Jaso. There was some question whether they’d option Joey Butler back to Triple-A Durham, or part ways with Grady Sizemore. For what it’s worth, Butler is 3-for-his-last-30 with 17 strikeouts, while Sizemore is hitting .360 with three runs and four RBI in his time with Tampa Bay.

As for the upcoming series, both the Rays and Royals are coming off important victories, and both look to build winning streaks. Kansas City earned only its second win in seven contests by edging Minnesota 3-2 on Sunday afternoon. Like the Rays, the Royals have an excellent pitching staff that has yielded fewer runs per game than Tampa Bay. Both teams have held opponents scoreless seven times ― tied for third most in the league. Also like Tampa Bay, Kansas City is strapped for offensive production.

The Rays will throw Matt Moore, Matt Andriese Chris Archer, and Nathan Karns over the next three days (and four games). Andriese (3-2, 3.24 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Durham and will be the 26th man on the roster. Before being optioned back to Durham on June 26th, the 25 year-old right put together an excellent six inning outing against Boston, in which he allowed no runs and just one hit while fanning five. Moore (0-0, 7.10 ERA) struggled in his season debut Thursday against Cleveland, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks in just 4-2/3 innings. He struck out four in the no-decision. Archer (9-5, 2.18 ERA) was outstanding Friday night, tossing 6-2/3 shutout innings while scattering just three hits and three walks to go with eight strikeouts. Finally, Karns (4-4, 3.21 ERA) pitched well in a no-decision Saturday, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings while fanning a season high 10 batters.

Rays and Royals series starters over the last 14 days (unless noted otherwise).

Rays and Royals series starters over the last 14 days (unless noted otherwise).


Rays and Royals offensive production over the last 14 days.

Rays and Royals offensive production over the last 14 days.


Rays and Royals by the numbers.

Rays and Royals by the numbers.

Edinson Voloquez: Volquez (8-4, 3.48) escaped without a decision after permitting five runs over five innings in Houston last Wednesday after winning his previous four starts. The 32 year-old righty surrendered two homers in his last outing after giving up five in his first 15 of the 2015 campaign. He is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in three career starts against the Rays. Key matchups: Asdrubal Cabrera (3-8, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Brandon Guyer (1-3), Kevin Kiermaier (1-3), Evan Longoria (3-9, 2B, 3 RBI), Grady Sizemore (2-4, HR, RBI, BB).

Chris Young: Per Rotowire, Young (7-4, 2.64 ERA) pitched 5-1/3 innings, giving up a run on six hits and a walk while striking out two in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Twins. The soft tossing Young has the ability to induce weak contact — specifically weak fly balls — thanks in part to the deception created by his long limbs. Young’s delivery appears to start close to the plate, and makes the ball appear invisible to batters. Key matchups: John Jaso (2-8, RBI, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (1-2, 2B, BB), James Loney (8-22, 3 2B, RBI, 3 BB), Evan Longoria (2-3, 2B), Rene Rivera (1-2).

Jeremy Guthrie: Per Rotowire, Guthrie (6-5, 5.42 ERA) held the Twins to two runs on five hits over 7-1/3 innings in a no-decision Friday night. The Rays have done okay against the 36 year-old righty, slashing a combined .255 BA/.319 OBP/.448 SLG/.767 OPS line over 145 at-bats. On the contrary, Guthrie’s 2-1 record and 2.84 ERA over is last three starts against Tampa Bay tells a different story. Key matchups: Asdrubal Cabrera (9-30, HR, RBI, BB), Brandon Guyer (1-3), John Jaso (6-24, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB), Evan Longoria (13-44, 5 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 3 BB).

Yodano Ventura: Per Rotowire, Ventura (3-6, 4.68 ERA) will be activated from the DL to start Thursday’s game, Matt DeFranks of Sports Radio 810 reports. Make no doubt about it, Ventura’s stuff is electric. However, his fastball velocity is down from the last two seasons (from 97.1 mph to 94.3). He’s also throwing fewer four-seamers and more sinkers. Moreover, Ventura has pitched from behind more often than a year ago, and his command has left much to be desired. Nevertheless, he remains a formidable opponent for the Rays, who’ve faced him but twice. Key matchups: David DeJesus (1-3), Brandon Guyer (1-3), John Jaso (1-2), Kevin Kiermaier (2-2, HR, 4 RBI), Evan Longoria (1-4, BB).

Noteworthiness

― Evan Longoria is 6-17 during a four-game hitting streak and leads the majors in fielding percentage (.978) at his position.

― It’s official, both Chris Archer and Brad Boxberger will represent the Rays in the 2015 All-Star Game. Congrats Archer and Box!

Archer, who ranks first in the American League in strikeouts and opponents average, said,

There’s no words to describe how special this is. It’s one of the first times in my life where I’ve gotten the proper recognition, in my opinion, outside of my teammates. Obviously my main focus is for my teammates to know I’m capable of. But when the league knows, it takes it to a whole ‘nother level. And I’m very appreciative of all the different media outlets that helped me get noticed.

As for the typically stoic reliever “Boxberger showed emotion,” said manager Kevin Cash — a rarity from the righty who is said to have ice water running through his veins.

The addition to the roster was unexpected for Boxberger, who initially wasn’t sure of what to make of the announcement:

Shocked, I didn’t really expect it coming so I’m still trying to let it sink in and see how it goes.

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― The final line on Jake Odorizzi in his final rehab start for the Stone Crabs: 5.2 IP/2 H/0 R/1 BB/6 K on 73 pitches (51 strikes).

― Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium blog) wrote about the flawed assumptions made by the Tampa Tribune in their front page Rays’ stadium article.

― In the midst all of the negativity surrounding the Rays during their skid, Dan Shulman (ESPN) put some things into perspective:

Sam Dykstra (MILB.com) evaluated Triple-A park factors.

― Marc Krauss, who recently had been designated for assignment by the Rays, has been claimed by the Tigers.

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Looking Backward While Moving Forward: Rays Drop Seventh Straight, 3-2

Fourth of July in the belly of the beast. (Photo Credit: Greg Taylor)

The Tampa Bay Rays losing streak hit a fevered pitch on Saturday, after the New York Yankees took the second game of the series in their final at-bat and winning by a score of 3-2. Tampa Bay has now lost a season high seven straight, and 11 of its past 13. The team starts the day three back of the Yankees in the AL East.

The Yankees took the lead in the first inning against Nathan Karns, taking advantage of the Rays righty before he settled in. Brett Gardner led off with a first pitch single up the middle and Chase Headley hit a grounder into right, moving Gardner into scoring position. Alex Rodriguez followed with an RBI bloop single into right, plating a run and moving Headly to third. Mark Teixeira sacrificed for the second run,  capping the rally. Of the 37 runs Karns has allowed, 13 have come in the first inning.

Yet Karns was very tough on the Yankees from there, tossing six scoreless innings to finish his outing, and fanning a career high 10. The Rays righty scattered five hits and two walks; retiring the final seven batters he faced, and holding New York to 1-6 wRISP over the course of his seven inning start.

Unfortunately, the Rays couldn’t pounce on their limited opportunities against Michael Pineda, who also struck out 10 and walked just one.

The Rays went 0-6 wRISP against Pineda — 0-9 overall — and had their best scoring opportunity in the second. Asdrubal Cabrera led off the inning by lacing a double to left, then Kevin Kiermaier followed with by working a six pitch walk. But Jake Elmore popped up a bunt attempt, Curt Casali struck out, and Grady Sizemore bounced to third to end the inning and the threat.

Pineda, much like his opponent, settled in and retired 18 of 19. It was the Tampa Bay’s third consecutive game where they didn’t score with Karns was on the mound.

Curt Casali hit a 2-1 double to start the eighth and chase Pineda, yet Justin Wilson struck out Brandon Guyer and Joey Butler, and Dellin Betances coaxed a grounder to third out of Evan Longoria to end the inning.

Meanwhile Kavin Cash called upon Brandon Gomes to work the eighth, and he responded by posting a perfect frame — setting the table for an improbable ninth.

James Loney got the inning started with an opposite field single, and then Steven Souza Jr, who was 0-26 with 16 strikeouts entering the game, crushed a 2-2 homer to left on a hanging breaking pitch. It was the first homer Betances allowed in 2015, and the team leading 15th home run for Souza. Betances retired the next three batters to keep the game tied, giving the appearance the contest would go into extras for the second straight day.

However, the game never made it into extra innings.

Mark Teixeira doubled past the shift into the right field corner against Brad Boxberger to start the Yankees half of the ninth. Joe Girardi called upon Jose Pirela to pinch run for Teixeira, and pinch-hitter Chris Young walked after falling behind 0-2 to Boxberger. With a pair on, Ramon Flores pushed a bunt up the third-base side of the infield. Evan Longoria called for it, yet Boxberger, who already picked the ball up, looked to second, then made an off-balance throw to first. Jake Elmore, who was covering first, tried to scoop it, but the ball glanced off his glove. Elmore corralled it before the ball could bound away and threw home, but it was too late — Jose Pirela slid across the plate, scoring the winning run.

It’s frustrating that the outcome of the game is based on one throw that should be pretty simple, Boxberger said of his part of the botched play. Just in that situation, I didn’t set my feet, just rushed it a little bit. And that’s what happens.

Elmore also chimed in,

I set up on the bag, saw it in the dirt and tried to read the pick. It was like a snow cone, and then when you try to pick through it with force, sometimes it catapults the ball a little bit. … I know he’s going, so as soon as it pops up I know I’ve got to catch and throw, so I spun and threw and (catcher Curt Casali) caught it, but (Pirela) slid in behind him.

The Rays skipper succinctly summed up yesterday’s game, and the frustrating stretch the team has been on,

Well, if there was any question that we were in a bad funk coming into the game, we solidified that with today’s game.

The New What Next

The Rays won’t take on the Yankees again until early September. With that in mind, Sunday’s series finale provides the last opportunity for the Rays to force a two-game swing in a close American League East race. Erasmo Ramirez (6-3, 4.01 ERA) will take the mound for Tampa Bay, opposite of Ivan Nova (1-1, 1.50 ERA since returning from Tommy John surgery). The Yankees are going for the sweep, while the Rays look to snap a seven-game skid. Initially scheduled to take the hill for New York in the finale, the Yankees decided to push CC Sabathia’s start back to Wednesday. You can read more about Ramirez in our Rays/Yankees series preview.

Rays 7/5/15 Sarting Lineup

Cabrera SS
DeJesus LF
Longoria DH
Loney 1B
Forsythe 2B
Souza Jr. RF
Kiermaier CF
Elmore 3B
Casali C
Ramirez RHP

Noteworthiness

— Grady Sizemore is not in the lineup today because Evan Longoria is hitting DH, and the Rays prefer better outfield coverage.

— RHP Ronald Belisario, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and elected for free-agency.

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Looking Backward While Moving Forward: Rays Fall 7-5 in Extras

The loneliest man in Yankee Stadium. Steve Geltz reacts after giving up the game-winning, three-run home run to Brian McCan. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The loneliest man in Yankee Stadium. Steve Geltz reacts after giving up the game-winning, three-run home run to Brian McCan. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The Tampa Bay Rays extended their losing streak to six on Friday, after the team squandered a 3-0 lead in the eighth, and a two run lead in extras, in a 7-5 12-inning loss to New York. The Evil Empire scored three in the eighth, and four in the 12th — evaporating the Rays’ lead both times thanks to the long ball. In the throes of an atrocious nine game stretch nine, Tampa Bay has dropped four extra-inning affairs. Dave Wills and Andy Freed (on the radio side) summed things up well, when the team is rolling, they find every way to win. Yet when the Rays are scuffling, they find every way to lose.


Source: FanGraphs

Tampa Bay struck early for a two-run lead in the first inning off Masahiro Tanaka. Grady Sizemore hit a leadoff double to right. Joey Butler walked, and then Evan Longoria doubled to left for a one run lead. James Loney, making his return to the lineup after suffering a fractured middle finger, hit a sacrifice-fly to cap the rally.

Chris Archer took the mound for Tampa Bay, seeking his 10th win. The Rays’ ace tossed two perfect frames to start to start the game, then worked in and out of trouble over the next four innings — ultimately holding the Yankees to 0-5 wRISP throughout. Kevin Kiermaier helped Archer in the third, ranging back on Stephen Drew’s deep fly ball to center and leaping to snare the liner, stealing a run-scoring extra-base hit. Archer was able to do something that Steve Geltz couldn’t, retire Brian McCann to end the fourth and sixth innings with a runner at second.

In the fifth, Kevin Kiermaier tripled down the right field line, and Rene Rivera followed with a sac-fly to right for a three-run lead.

In his 6-2/3 innings of work, Archer fanned seven, and allowed three hits, three walks, and an HBP on 122 pitches. He was relieved by Jake McGee, who struck out pinch-hitter Jose Pirela to end the inning.

Tampa Bay had an opportunity to extend the lead with two on and none out in the top of the eighth after Rivera and Sizemore hit back-to-back singles. However, they were unable to add to the advantage. Nick Rumbelow, on in relief of relieved Chris Capuano, got Joey Butler to pop out, Evan Longoria to fly out, and James Loney to ground out to end the threat, keeping the Rays lead at 3-0. They didn’t get another wRISP opportunity against the Yankees bullpen until the 12th.

In a move that I can’t quite wrap my head around, Kevin Cash called upon Kevin Jepsen to take over the bottom of the inning to face Chase Headley, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Texiera. Playing the role of Monday morning quarterback, I have to wonder why Cash didn’t call upon Jepsen to face Pirela in the seventh, then McGee in the eighth? Instead, the decision to lean on the righty proved costly after Headly and Rodriguez came up with soft singles with one out, setting the stage for Teixeira, who followed with an upper-deck no doubter to tie the game. Jepsen walked the next two batters before Brandon Gomes entered and got Chris Young to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to keep the game tied.

All power to the popsicle — Tampa Bay regained the lead in the 12th, taking advantage of a leadoff walk to Logan Forsythe against Adam Warren.

Brandon Guyer then laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to the left of the infield, moving Forsythe to second. Asdrubal Cabrera followed by working a walk of his own. After Joe Girardi pulled Warren in flavor of Chasen Shreve, Kevin Kiermaier and Rene Rivera hit a pair of RBI singles to give the Rays a two-run advantage. Steven Souza Jr. walked to load the bases, but Joey Butler grounded into a double play to end the threat.

In the bottom of the frame, Steve Geltz, who also worked the 11th, walked Brett Gardner to begin the inning. Chase Headley struck out, but Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira followed with back-to-back singles to cut the deficit to 5-4. Brian McCann ended the game by hitting a three-run homer two pitches later.

The New What Next

Nathan Karns (4-4, 3.26 ERA) will make his 17th start of the season, opposite of Michael Pineda (8-5, 4.08 ERA). After going 1-1 with a 5.32 ERA in his first four starts, Karns is 3-3 with a 2.54 ERA in his last 12. Pineda is 2-1 in his career against the Rays with a 3.22 ERA. In his last outing, Pineda tossed his first complete game but was still tagged with the loss against the Astros. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.

Rays 7/4/15 Starting Lineup

Sizemore DH
Butler LF
Longoria 3B
Loney 1B
Souza Jr RF
Cabrera SS
Kiermaier CF
Elmore 2B
Casali C
Karns RHP

Noteworthiness

— The Rays optioned LHP C.J. Riefenhauser to Triple-A Durham and recalled left-hander Everett Teaford from Durham on Saturday. Teaford is a more of a long man, and would be the Rays reliever if Karns gets knocked out early.

First baseman Marc Krauss was designated for assignment to make room for Teaford on the 40-man roster.

Teaford appeared in one game for the Rays earlier this season, giving up a run on four hits over 2-1/3 innings. Riefenhauser is 1-0 with a 9.95 ERA in six games with the Rays this season.

Krauss was acquired in a June 25 trade that sent Minor Leaguer Kyle Winkler to the Angels. He had one hit in 10 at-bats while playing in four games for the Rays.

— The Rays are 4-and-3 on the Fourth of July since 2008. However, they lost to the Yankees by a score of 4-3 the last time they faced them on Independence Day (2012).

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Rays 7/3/14 Starting Lineup, Sign Two 16 Year Short-Stops, Etc

These jokers made it to the MLB Network headquarters this morning. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

Rays 7/3/14 Starting Lineup

Sizemore DH
Butler RF
Longoria 3B
Loney 1B
Forsythe 2B
DeJesus LF
Cabrera SS
Kiermaier CF
Rivera C
Archer RHP

Noteworthiness

— Grady Sizemore finds himself leading off tonight, while the struggling Steven Souza Jr. is off once again.

— The Tampa Bay Rays have signed a pair of 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstops: Luis Leon (for $125,000) and Jhosmer Vargas ($100,000). Ben Badler (Baseball America), who broke the news, wrote,

The Rays agreed to sign Luis Leon and Jhosmer Vargas, a pair of 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstops, for low six-figure bonuses.

Leon is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with a good swing from both sides of the plate. His tools are steady, with average speed and a little more strength helping his bat, with more line drives than power, and a chance to stay in the middle of the field. Leon, who signed for $125,000, trains at Carlos Guillen’s academy.

Vargas is another switch-hitter, with a little less size (6 feet, 160 pounds) but a tick better speed and a quick, contact-oriented stroke with skills that started to pop more as July 2 approached. Leon signed for $100,000 and trained with Henderson Alvarez (not the Marlins pitcher).

Read about the Rays/Yankees series in our preview.

Don’t forget, our next watch party takes place tonight at Green Bench Brewing Company.

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