The Tampa Bay Rays walked onto the dusky field at Charlotte Sports Park for the last time of the spring Wednesday evening, and walked away with their fourth tie of the Grapefruit League season, this time matching the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 4-4. Wednesday night’s contest could easily be summed up thusly:
- By calling it the Matt Joyce and Spencer Edwards offensive show.
- David Price let the Orioles take advantage of him with two outs, in his last outing before Opening Day.
- Grant Balfour, Juan Carlos Oviedo, and Brandon Gomes put together solid outings.
All four of the Rays runs could be attributed to two men — Tampa Bay’s defacto DH Matt Joyce, and a speedy minor leaguer named Spencer Edwards. Joyce, in the leadoff spot, started the game by laying down a beautiful bunt to the left side of the infield, beating the shift. James Loney moved Joyce to third on a liner to center, while Evan Longoria brought him home on a shallow sac fly to Nelson Cruz to right. Of interest, Joyce challenged Cruz for the first of two plays at the plate. Evan Longoria plated his second RBI on a soft single to Nelson Cruz, scoring Matt Joyce from third. Cruz attempted to gun Joyce down at the plate, but sailed an errant throw well over the head of Matt Wieters. The Rays were undoubtedly testing the arm of Nelson Cruz, and beat of the Orioles’ right fielder on both occasions — something Joe Maddon assuredly took stock of.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Wil Myers was hit by a Darren O’Day pitch. Though he was fine, Maddon chose to pinch him in lieu of a speedy minor leaguer named Spencer Edwards. Wilson Betemit was next at the plate and sent a liner to center field, scoring Edwards from first. Then Edwards walked and quickly stole second with one out in the bottom of the ninth — subsequently making his way to third on an errant throw. The young outfielder came home on a Ray Olmedo fielder’s choice and an error, knotting the game at four.
When Rays ace David Price was on, he was great. However, he had a hard time at putting the Orioles away with two outs, in his four innings of work. Posting a 4 IP/5 H/3 R/1 BB/5 K line on 73 pitches (49 strikes), Price relinquished a pair of fourth inning, two-out runs, thanks to an RBI double by former Ray Delmon Young, and a Steve Lombardozzi single to left field. All told, all of the southpaw’s runs came with two outs. Price said he felt good with his outing, though he wasn’t pleased that he let the innings get extended with two outs.
Grant Balfour, Juan Carlos Oviedo and Brandon Gomes followed Price, and were excellent. The three combined for three innings of two hit/two strikeout ball, while Gomes continued his streak of excellent Spring Training pitching — inducing a weakly hit Chris Marrero ground out, and an inning ending double play by JJ Hardy. Gomes showed why he earned his spot on the Opening Day roster.
The New What Next
RHP Alex Cobb will make his final start of the spring Thursday, when the Rays travel to Sarasota to play the Orioles. Cobb pitched seven innings against the Orioles on Saturday and allowed three runs on six hits while striking out 12.
Rays 3/27/14 Starting Lineup
We’ll be giving away some swag daily, leading up to Opening Day. All you have to do is name the Ray pictured (below), by way of a comment here or on our Facebook page, or by sending your answer to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Be the first to do so, and you’ll win something — be it a Raymones shirt or a sticker. It’s as simple as that! You’ll be prompted to send us your address so we can send you your prize.
The only caveat: your pictured clue will be the eyes of the player or member of the coaching staff, nothing else. Good luck!