Spring game report: Rays at Twins
UPDATE, 4:09: Rays lose 5-4 to the Twins, falling to 1-5-1 in the spring.
Manager Joe Maddon said he thought the team did a lot of things well today, good at-bats, good relief work, but came up short.
UPDATE, 3:47: Twins LF Chase Lambin hits a sacrifice fly in the eighth to give the Twins a 5-4 lead.
UPDATE, 3:44: RHP Alex Cobb gets into a bit of trouble here in the eighth, allowing the Twins to rally and score the tying run by Ben Revere.
UPDATE, 3:16: Rays took a 4-3 lead in top of seventh, when Ruggiano tripled and Russ Canzler scored pinch-runner Stephen Vogt on a sac fly.
UPDATE, 2:47: Rays tied the score with a bunt by Sean Rodriguez moving the runners up to second and third, and then a groundout by Casey Kotchman scoring Jaso from third. So it's 3-3 midway through the sixth, and the starters are out of the game - Longoria, Upton, Brignac.
UPDATE, 2:45: The Rays have rallied for two runs in their sixth with four consecutive singles, and some aggresive baserunning, by Reid Brignac, John Jaso and B.J. Upton all to right, and Evan Longoria to left.
UPDATE, 2:34 p.m. Kubel just hit a two-run double for the Twins off Rays reliever RHP Dane De La Rosa, putting them up 3-1.
UPDATE, 2:31 p.m. The Rays are still down 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth, with their only hit Ramirez's double in the first.
UPDATE, 2:04 p.m The Twins score first on an RBI single by Jason Kubel in the third, hit off of Rays RHP Mike Ekstrom.
UPDATE, 1:49 p.m. LHP Alex Torres day is done, having thrown two scoreless innings. He looked pretty good, striking out two (including freezing Jim Thome on a called third strike), and was able to work his way out of a jam after giving up a walk and single in the second.
UPDATE, 1:22 p.m. LHP Alex Torres, making the anticipated start against the Twins, retires the side in order, striking out Denard Span, getting a groundout and flyout.
UPDATE, 1:19 p.m. In the first inning, Evan Longoria reached on an error and LF Manny Ramirez - who asked to play in today's game - hit a double to leftfield. But they were stranded.
UPDATE, 1:14 p.m. Manager Joe Maddon had his pre-game media session, saying he thought Niemann threw the ball well despite giving up seven hits, liking how he pounded the strike zone (40 of 50 pitches for strikes) and used his breaking balls.
But Maddon thought it was LHP Cesar Cabral, a bullpen candidate picked up in the Rule 5 draft, who really "stood out." Cabral was "very impressive," Maddon said. "He threw the ball extremely well."
*Maddon said Ben Zobrist was a late scratch due to "tenderness" in his right ankle, but if it were a regular season, he would have played. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (hamstring) is progressing, will throw a live batting practice session Sunday and likely Tuesday, before making his spring debut Mar. 11
*Manny Ramirez wasn't orginally scheduled to play today, but asked Maddon yesterday if he could get in the lineup and get more at-bats. He's starting in leftfield.
*LHP Alex Torres, who starts today, will be trained as a starter, Maddon said, giving some depth to the rotation in case of an injury (he mentioned pitchers like RHP Andy Sonnanstine and RHP Alex Cobb as others).
UPDATE, 11:31 It was a rough morning for RHP Jeff Niemann, who gave up six runs (four earned) on seven hits (six singles) over two innings in a "B" game played against mostly Twins Triple-A players.
Niemann, however, said while the "numbers didn't look great," he felt good, saying he liked his command (no walks) and pointed out they "hit some pretty good pitches."
Niemann wasn't hit especially hard, with just one extra base hit a double and a few "bloop" singles. He also wasn't helped by two errors that prolonged his second inning. In one, SS Tim Beckham dropped a throw from 1B Leslie Anderson in what could have been a potential inning ending double play (that scored a run). And another, with two outs, Niemann raced for a popup near the third base line and dropped it, allowing another run to score.
Niemann said he was working on his split and slider, and was relatively pleased. He did say he wanted to improve on repeating his delivery, something that impacted him in today's 50-pitch outing.
Update 11:29 a.m. Here's the Twins lineup, with no Delmon Young or Joe Mauer.
UPDATE, 11:29: Ben Zobrist has been scratched from the lineup due to a sore ankle, so John Jaso will play today, serving as DH.
UPDATE, 10:17: The mixup apparently was on the administrative end, not in the actual makeup of the lineup. Here's what it will look like this afternoon in Fort Myers:
UPDATE, 8:55: That A game lineup apparently is being changed - looks like Manny Ramirez is going to play leftfield, so a revised lineup should be posted when we get to Fort Myers,
DEVELOPING: The Rays will have a busy day in Fort Myers today, with the regularly scheduled game preceded by a "B" game played on a back field that features RHP Jeff Niemann.
Many, though not all, the regulars are playing in the A game. Prospect LHP Alex Torres is pitching as the Rays want to see him against the Twins' hitters.
Here is the A game lineup for the Rays:
And here is the lineup for the B game: