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IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN JOE'S WORLD

Is it possible the Rays bullpen is really starting to get its act together? Manager Joe Maddon seems to think so, and the last two days, at least, seem to back him up. Relievers have pitched 5 2/3 innings the past two games against the A's without giving up an earned run. Now, before anyone thinks all the problems are cured (though if Tyler Walker works out as a closer, man, that will help), Tampa Bay's bullpen has allowed runs (earned and unearned) in nine of their past 10 games entering Sunday and lost four. Only the Twins' pen, at .310, has allowed a higher opponent average than the Rays' .300. Still, Maddon is bullish. "I just thought progessively we would get better,'' he said before Sunday's game. "I think the skill level is there. We have to gain more experience and some of these guys are. They've been cutting their teeth on some pretty good hitters. I just think before long it's going to be a strong point of this team.'' For whatever it's worth, both Aubrey Huff (knee) and Julio Lugo (intercostal muscle) reported no ill effects on their respective injuries after playing consecutive days.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:30am]

    

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