Spring game report: Rays vs. Jays, at the Trop
UPDATE, 6:48 . Rays beat the Jays 5-3, finishing the spring with a winning record (15-14-2).
UPDATE, 6:38 RHP Jeff Niemann felt good about his four-inning outing, his final spring tuneup before the regular season. "It was a good way to end the spring," he said.
"Everything felt good today, everything felt like it's where it needs to be to start the season," Niemann said. I'm going in feeling good and feeling confident."
UPDATE, 6:18: B.J. Upton's two-run single gives the Rays a 5-3 lead, as he knocks in Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac. Johnson had singled and then Brignac bunted, and the Jays messed up the play. The Rays then executed a double-steal, with Johnson logging his 12th ,extending his team record.
UPDATE, 6:07: RHP Kyle Farnsworth, RHP Adam Russell and LHP Jake McGee each throw a scoreless inning in relief. It's still tied 3-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
UPDATE, 5:35: Elliot Johnson homers to left, Rays tie it 3-3 in the fifth.
UPDATE, 5:27 Niemann's day is done, having thrown four innings, giving up four hits, three runs, one walk, two strikeouts and 65 pitches.
UPDATE, 5:07: The Rays get a run back in the third. B.J. Upton walks, then steals second (after getting picked off at first). He advanced to third on a groundout, and went home on a successful steal of second by Evan Longoria.
Upton now has five steals this spring.
Jays 3, Rays 2
UPDATE, 4:53 The Jays get a two-out rally going, with Jose Bautista hitting an RBI single and Adam Lind ripping a two-run double down the rightfield line, giving Toronto a 3-1 lead.
UPDATE, 4:34: Shortstop Elliot Johnson makes a real nice play to end the top of the second, charging a slow chopper by Encarnacion and throwing him out at first. Johnson's ability to play well defensively at short is a big factor in him grooming into another Rays utilityman.
UPDATE, 4:23 Evan Longoria hit a two-out solo homer over the left-center fence to make it 1-0 in the bottom of the first, his fourth home run of the spring.
UPDATE, 4:16 RHP Jeff Niemann allows just one hit in a scoreless first inning, with slugging RF Jose Bautista hitting a single up the middle.
Most of the Jays regulars are in the lineup.
UPDATE, 3:46: One number change from the spring, as OF Sam Fuld will wear No. 5. That is the number worn previously by Rocco Baldelli (as well as Pat Burrell), and Fuld - who wore No. 5 since high school whenever he could - said home clubhouse/equipment manager Chris Westmoreland checked with Baldelli and then offered the switch to him.
UPDATE, 3:32: Here is the Rays lineup:
D. Johnson 1b
E. Johnson ss
And for the Jays:
J. Molina c
Here is how the Trop looks today with the new turf. Photo by Marc Topkin.
The Rays wrap up the exhibition season today with a 4:10 p.m. game at Tropicana Field against the Blue Jays.
After initially saying today's game didn't count in the spring standings or stats, the Rays have said now that it does, so - at 14-14-2 - they can still finish the spring with a winning record if they come out ahead.
No. 4 starter Jeff Niemann will be on the mound, and the frontline players are expected to play much of the game as they were rained out on Monday and many had only a light workout on Tuesday at the Trop (while the others played in Fort Myers). Tickets are $10 and seating is general admission.
Manager Joe Maddon said he hoped to finalize the bullpen today, with the final three spots expected to go to RHP Juan Cruz and LHPs Jake McGee and Cesar Ramos. The Rays had been looking at waiver wire and trade possibilities.