Rays beat Phils 9-1; on to extra innings
Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir works his arm with some long toss before Friday's game. [Times photo | James Borchuck]
Update 3:49: The Rays have won 9-1 over the Phillies - but they're not done. The two teams will play an extra four innings to get some work in for their pitchers. For the Rays, Jake McGee and Wade Davis are scheduled to throw.
The Rays are now 6-1, off to their best start in franchise history.
Update 3:35: The Rays are piling on now, loading the bases with one out. Phils RHP Gary Knotts walked in a run, then allowed another to score on an error.
Most of the Rays regulars are out of the game by now.
But Eric Hinske picked up his biggest hit of the spring, smacking a double down the rightfield line for a two-run double.
Rays 9, Phils 1
Update 3:13 pm OF Chris Richard padded the Rays lead with a two-run single in the seventh, highlighted by a nice veteran move in a crafty slide by C Josh Paul, who avoided a tag at home, tapping the plate with his left hand.
Rays 5, Phils 1
Update 2:51 J.P. Howell came out to work another inning and the Rays still lead 3-1. Wholesale changes in the field, with all the starters out except CF Ben Zobrist (and how odd does that sound?).
Update: 2:44 pm The Phils got a run back in the top of the sixth, getting a double and later scoring off of LHP J.P. Howell.
Rays 3, Phils 1
Update: 2:16 pm RHP Al Reyes had a solid fourth, and with the score still 3-0 Rays, LHP Trever Miller will come in and pitch the fifth.
On an offensive note, Maddon praised Willy Aybar's bat this morning in our pre-game chat. Aybar, a candidate at third base if Evan Longoria isn't deemed ready to break camp, is a switch hitter who has some pop from both sides. But the Rays so far have only seen him from the left. Until now. Aybar swung from the right side in the fourth, popping out to first.
Update: 1:58 pm The Rays aggressiveness on the basepaths paid off in the third. They started the game third in the majors with 12 stolen bases, and added three more in the third. First, a double steal by Aki and Bartlett, putting runners on second and third with one out. That made it easy for Aki to score on Pena's slow grounder to second.
Guzman added an RBI single to put the Rays up 3-1. He then stole second before Floyd struck out looking.
Update: 1:52 pm: Bartlett got the Rays on the board with an RBI single in the third. With runners on first and third and one out, Bartlett was jammed by Phils starter Cole Hamels, fisting a blooper over Bruntlett's head at second.
Just to tell you how windy it is here at Progress Energy Park. A pop up by Carlos Pena took on a life of its own near the Phils dugout, bouncing away from Feliz.
Update: 1:40 pm C Dioner Navarro got one of his first chances to throw out a baserunner. In the third, Helm tried to steal second with one out. Navarro's throw was on time, just a little high, pulling Bartlett to the left off the bag. Helms was stranded though with Niemann going through three innings without giving up a run.
Niemann went three inings, with two hits and two walks. But he looked sharper than his first start, hitting the corners with his fastball and striking out Burrell on a nice breaking ball.
Update: 1:27 pm After falling behind a couple hitters in the first (walking one), Niemann is starting to click. The hard throwing righthander caught Burrell looking to end the first, then, in the second, got Pedro Feliz swinging on a nasty breaking ball.
Niemann had a so-so- first outing, making this start today so important. He's one of several Rays hoping to crack the final two spots in the rotation.
Update: 1:22 pm The Rays ended a first inning threat- first and third with one out - with a double play by Joel Guzman. But lost in the shuffle was SS Jason Bartlett, who delivered another base hit in his first at-bat. Bartlett has used all fields this spring, impressing Maddon Thursday with a two-strike triple to left-center gap.
Then there's his baserunning, which Maddon has also praised. A good case of that was in the first inning when Bartlett stole third.
Update: 1:05 pm RHP Jeff Niemann will get his second start for the Rays this spring. He'll be one of several Rays prospects getting some time on the mound today, with LHP Jake McGee and RHP Wade Davis also scheduled to go.
Remember it's 13 innings today, so we'll keep you posted.
Update: 12:54 pm LHP Scott Kazmir threw another spirited session of long toss Friday morning with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield. Looked good from our view, with Kazmir giving a thumbs up and a smile to gathering media members as he headed for the dugout. In today's Times, Rays manager Joe Maddon spoke about how he felt "optimistic" Kazmir could - if things go according to plan -make his opening day start.
"Thumbs up," Kazmir said. "That's all I need."
The Rays will try to beat the rain - and the Phillies - today at Progress Energy Park, as the two teams continue a home-and-home spring training series with what's planned to be a long day. They will play the regular nine innings (weather permitting) and then go 3-or-4 more, to get some pitchers some needed work.
Some news and notes this morning. RF Rocco Baldelli is not in the lineup today, and is the only outfielder left off the team's travel roster for Saturday's matchup with the Yankees at Legends Field. Manager Joe Maddon had said this spring he was hoping to get Baldelli into the outfield by the end of this week, but Baldelli's playing status is in question based on how he felt after his two DH at-bats on Tuesday.
LHP David Price said he's still scheduled to make his debut Saturday vs. the Yankees, with several friends and family in tow.
For today's game, there will be plenty of regulars for both teams, including NL MVP Jimmy Rollins. On the mound are RH Jeff Niemann and Cole Hamels