For starters, Rays vs. Orioles in season finale
Update 6:20 p.m. Though the Rays are not going to the playoffs, manager Joe Maddon continued to say they're playing to win, with the possibility of getting win No. 90 tonight a significant accomplishment.
Maddon had two different lineups prepared, as the Orioles were considering using one of two pitchers (Britton or Tillman), and went with one that includes Longoria, Upton, and Stephen Vogt, who is still looking for his first big-league hit.
C Chris Gimenez makes his career-high matching fifth straight start behind the plate. Maddon said he was still unsure if he'd use RHP Fernando Rodney tonight, as he boasts the major league record for lowest ERA by a reliever, percentage points lower than one by Dennis Eckersley (.61).
*SS Ben Zobrist said he's not sure what the Rays plans are for him next season - and is prepared to play several positions - but he thinks he can continue as their everyday shortstop, where he's been the past few months. Maddon said Zobrist has told them as much, and is capable, so they'll see how it plays out. Maddon acknowledges there are very few position player spots in stone for next season (other than Longoria at third base), as Matt Joyce can be in left or right, Jennings in left or center, etc. "Welcome to the Rays," Maddon quipped.
*INF Jeff Keppinger, who had a breakout season and ended up playing almost everyday down the stretch, said he'd absolutely love to return to the Rays. A free agent after this season, Keppinger said he enjoyed his experience with Tampa Bay, likes how they were able to give him an opportunity and "I took advantage of it."
*Maddon continued to rave about RHP James Shields performance last night, saying it was the best performance he's seen - ever.
Update 6:15 p.m. The Orioles lineup, still hoping to be in mix for AL East title
Update: The Rays will play it straight up, again, with Longoria in the lineup. Rays lineup Upton cf Zobrist ss Longoria 3b Joyce rf Roberts 2b Pena 1b Fuld lf Vogt dh Gimenez c Hellickson rhp
Developing:The Rays Game 162 will have a lot different feel - and much less drama - than last year. At least, for Tampa Bay.
The Rays, having already been eliminated from postseason contention, will play its final game tonight against the Orioles, who are still hoping for a potential AL East title. Baltimore, which trails the Yankees by one game, would need to beat the Rays tonight and have New York lose to Boston to set up a one-game playoff tommorrow. Either way, the Orioles are going to the playoffs.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson will get the start on the mound, having the unenviable task of following up RHP James Shields brilliant performance last night. Shields, who struck out 15 and allowed two hits over a complete game, ended up losing 1-0, something manager Joe Maddon called the "crime of the year."
This could very well be the last game in a Rays uniform for CF B.J. Upton, who is headed for free agency - and likely a large payday - after this season. Will be interesting to see what kind of response he gets from the crowd, when he comes out of the game.
Maddon has said they plan to play it "straight up" out of the integrity of the game and respect for the remaining playoff races, so 3B Evan Longoria will likely be in the lineup. RHP Fernando Rodney, percentage points ahead of Dennis Eckersley for the lowest ERA ever of any reliever, could get the call in a save situation.
Lineups, and more, to come
-- JOE SMITH