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Spring game report: Rays vs. Red Sox, if rain stops




This was the scene over the Charlotte Sports Park early this morning. Photo by Andrew Heydt, Rays PR.

UPDATE, 4:08 The Rays pulled out their third straight walk-off (and fourth straight win) in a 8-6 victory over the Red Sox.

Tampa Bay, which lost a 5-4 lead with two outs in the ninth, scored three in the bottom half, with Casey Kotchman tying the game with a double and Robinson Chirinos being the hero again with a two-run walkoff homer.

UPDATE, 3:39: It's turning into a wild ending here. With Tampa Bay up 5-4 with two outs in the top of the ninth, Rays RHP Brandon Gomes - a bullpen candidate who hadn't allowed a run in four previous appearances - gave up back to back solo homers as the Red Sox pulled ahead by one. 

The first homer was controversial. Tejeda hit the ball apparently off the top of the left-center wall and was thrown in by Desmond Jennings. Elliot Johnson took the relay and tried to throw out Tejada at third, but nobody was covering the base, and the ball rolled toward the Boston dugout. Gomes slid to get the ball and threw Tejada out at the plate, but second base umpire called it a home run.

Manager Joe Maddon came out to argue to no avail. 

UPDATE, 2:42 After two weak line-outs in his first two at-bats, LF Carl Crawford hits an infield single up the middle to start the sixth. He's forced out at second base on another nice diving stop by SS Reid Brignac.

LHP Alex Torres, who gave up the Crawford single, gave up a double to Kevin Youkilis, putting runners on second and third with one out. Then he allowed a two-run triple to Spears to make it 5-3 Rays.

It's the first rough outing for Torres, who has caught the Rays attention since coming over in the 2009 Scott Kazmir trade. Maddon has said he'll be used as a starter, one of the next guys up at Triple-A if there is an injury in the rotation.

UPDATE, 2:27 LHP R.J. Swindle gives up two straight hits to start the fifth, and is replaced by RHP Mike Ekstrom. Tejada ends up hitting an RBI groundout to cut the Rays lead to 5-1.

UPDATE, 2:17 RHP Andy Sonnanstine is done for the day, having completed his best outing of the spring. Sonnanstine threw four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, throwing 34 strikes out of 45 pitches.

LHP R.J. Swindle replaces him.

UPDATE, 2:15: In a play very familiar to Rays fans, Red Sox LF Carl Crawford makes a great defensive play, a running/diving catch to snag a Sam Fuld liner to end the fourth.

UPDATE, 1:58: Ben Zobrist and Johnny Damon hit back-to-back doubles in the third to give the Rays a 4-0 lead. Then, Matt Joyce hit a single to right to knock in Damon to make it 5-0.

Meanwhile, RHP Andy Sonnanstine has been sharp, allowing just two hits over three innings.

UPDATE, 1:33. RHP Andy Sonnanstine has looked good so far, throwing two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.

It's encouraging for Sonnanstine, considering how rough his first two outings were, including allowing five homers in his spring debut.

UPDATE, 1:21 The Rays put together a rally in the first off of RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, with Ben Zobrist and Johnny Damon drawing back-to-back walks.

Evan Longoria knocked Zobrist in with a single up the middle, making it 1-0 Rays. OF Matt Joyce hit a sacrifice fly, robbed of extra bases on a sliding catch by RF Ryan Kalish.

Rays 2, Red Sox 0

UPDATE, 1:11 SS Reid Brignac, back in the lineup after missing several days with a groin injury, looks like his old self, making a great diving grab in the hole at short before throwing out Mike Cameron at first.

UPDATE, 1:09: LF Carl Crawford gets his first at-bat against the Rays, receiving a mixed ovation from the Charlotte Sports Park crowd - though a lot of cheers. One fan yelled, "Carl, we love you, but that's the last time." 

Crawford went quietly, retired on a soft pop up to Evan Longoria at third base.

UPDATE, 11:30: Manny Ramirez, who was orginally scheduled to start in leftfield today, was scratched from the lineup. Ramirez said it was manager Joe Maddon's call, that it was due to the weather/field conditions on this rainy day. Sam Fuld will play leftfield instead.

Ramirez said he feels fine, and plans to play Friday, as scheduled, when he'll hit leadoff and play Sunday in Dunedin against the Blue Jays.

Speaking of the weather, the Rays are now optimistic they will play a game today.

Here's the revised Rays lineup

Zobrist 2b
Damon dh
Longoria 3b
Joyce rf
Upton cf
D. Johnson 1b
Brignac ss
Jaso c

Fuld, lf
Sonnanstine p

UPDATE, 10:31: SS Reid Brignac (groin tightness) is set to return to the lineup today with no restrictions, manager Joe Maddon said. ... Ben Zobrist hit leadoff on Wednesday and will again today, with Maddon saying he wants to look at that option for the regular season as well. ... RHP Jeremy Hellickson is set to make his spring game debut on Friday, having been sidelined early in camp due to hamstring tightness, and Maddon said they are confident he can be ready to start the season, although won't be fully "stretched out" for his first start. ...  Maddon said it thought it would "be fun" to bat Ramirez leadoff on Friday, for no other reason than he can get his at-bats out of the way and then be off the rest of Friday and Saturday, then rejoin the Rays on Sunday in Dunedin, where he is scheduled to play LF. ... The other name players will play both Saturday in Clearwater and Sunday in Dunedin.

UPDATE, 9:57: Skies are beginning to clear a bit, and the Red Sox bus is here.
Here is the Red Sox lineup:
Ellsbury cf
Crawford lf
Cameron dh
Youkilis 3b
Kalish rf
Spears 1b
Hoover c
O. Tejada 2b
Iglesias ss
Matsuzaka p


UPDATE, 8:33: The lineup is posted for Friday's game against the Pirates and it has a surprise - Manny Ramirez hitting leadoff as the DH.

DEVELOPING: The Rays are readying to play the Red Sox today in Port Charlotte - if the weather cooperates.

A little after 8 the skies opened with heavy rains, and while that is expected to continue much of the morning, the Rays are saying that as of now they are expecting it to clear and they are hoping the game with the Red Sox will be played. Since the game is on Rays TV, and since a sellout crowd is expected, the Rays are likely to wait as long as possible.

Reid Brignac scheduled to return to action after missing a week with a tight groin, and Manny Ramirez to play rightfield, though that could change depending on the field conditions.

Here is the lineup posted this morning in the clubhouse:
Zobrist 2b
Damon dh
Longoria 3b
Ramirez lf
Joyce rf
Upton cf
D. Johnson 1b
Brignac ss
Jaso c
Sonnanstine p

[Last modified: Saturday, April 9, 2011 12:15am]


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