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Rays and Pirates, again



Update 3:25 pm Dohmann gave up a bloop single to leftfield, which scored two runs and brought the Pirates within single digits.

WIth Balfour having pitched as good as Maddon has ever seen him during the past two outings, the pressure is on.

Rays 13, Pirates 4

Update 3:14 pm RHP Scott Dohmann, in one of camp's most competitive position battles, starts the eighth inning.

Dohmann is battling with RHP Grant Balfour for the final reliever spot, and has been neck-and-neck with the crafty Australian all spring. But Dohmann is struggling so far today, loading the bases (including a hit batter) with two outs.

Update 3:01 pm The Rays have blown it open now with a seventh-inning rally. They loaded the bases, then got what turned into a two-run fielder's choice. On a ground ball to third, Floyd was thrown out at home, but his slide threw the Pirates catcher off on his throw, which went into rightfield.

Shortstop prospect Reid Brignac then delivered a two-run homer over the rightfield wall - after the game-winning double yesterday - to give the Rays an 11-run lead.

Rays 13, Pirates 2

Update 2:40 pm Speaking of speed, Crawford just showed his wheels in the sixth. Crawford ripped a liner down the rightfield line, and turned it into a triple, scoring two runs to put the Rays up 8-2

Rays 8, Pirates 2

Update 2:37 pm The Rays extend their lead in the sixth thanks to some "small ball."

After Hinske reached base again, and Riggans got to first thanks to a botched popup, Bartlett laid down a perfect bunt toward the first base line.

It was so good, there was no play at first.

Rays 6, Pirates 2

Update 2:17 pm Carlos Pena just hit a homer that, for the most part, many in the stadium thought was a long fly ball. It just carried, and carried with the wind and went out around the scoreboard for a three-run blast.

The homer, Pena's second in as many days, scored Crawford and Aki and gave the Rays a 5-2 lead.

Rays 5, Pirates 2

Update 1:59 pm Jackson settled down after the first inning, and has now given up five hits over three innings of work.

Though he's had baserunners in each inning, he's been able to make pitches when he's needed to.

Rays 2, Pirates 2 (after four)

Update 1:32 pm Eric Hinske, a front-runner as in-house candidate for the extra outfielder/RF spot, is continuing his strong spring at the plate. The latest was a solo homer in the second, which sailed over the left-center wall.

Rays 2, Pirates 2

Update 1:22 pm The Rays got a run back in their half of the first. Aki led off with an infield single, then moved over to second when Crawford had a putout. Upton singled him in for another RBI, with Floyd grounding out to end the inning.

Pirates 2, Rays 1

Update 1:07 pm RHP Edwin Jackson got hit hard to start the first inning. Morgan led off with a sharp single, then Wilson tripled to the rightfield corner to score him. Wilson scored on a groundout by Bay.

Pirates 2, Rays 0

The Rays and Pirates will try again today under better weather conditions in the next to last spring training game at Progress Energy Park.

Not much news from manager Joe Maddon's pre-game media session except that RHP Chad Orvella and LHP Kurt Birkins both appear headed to the disabled list to start the season. Orvella has shoulder issues; Birkins irritation in his elbow.

What Maddon didn't know yet was how INF Ben Zobrist's checkup on his fractured left thumb went - which could determine if he or Elliot Johnson makes the opening day roster - and the specifics of a schedule being established for LHP Scott Kazmir.

No roster moves are expected before the game, but that doesn't mean there won't be news later.
"This whole week we'll start paring it down little by little and by the end of the week we'll be set,'' Maddon said. "You're going to see a little bit of an attrition over the course of the next couple days, people just going back to the minor-league complex. We're talking daily, we're talking constantly, i even met with (exec VP) Andrew (Friedman) last night, we're just always trying to figure this thing out. It's a steady conversation - there's little meetings interspersed within all that stuff - for right now it's basically a conversation and we'll start doing things very shortly.''

Maddon said there are "a lot of discussions" about bringing in another player from the outside, but "it's always about what everybody else wants too. If the asking price is too high then we'll just have to figure it out from what we have within and if it's a nice match then we'll do it.''

As for the lineups:

Iwamura, 2b
Crawford, lf
Pena, 1b
Upton, cf
Floyd, dh
Hinske, rf
Longoria, 3b
Navarro, c
Bartlett, ss
Edwin Jackson starts for the Rays but what could be more interesting is the ongoing battle between Grant Balfour and Scott Dohmann for the last bullpen spot.

Morgan, cf
Wilson, ss
Bay, lf
LaRoche, DH
Doumit, c
Nady, rf
Bautista, 3b
Mientkiewicz, 1b
Rivas, 2b
Matt Morris is starting.



[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:34am]


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