For starters, Rays at Orioles, in a game Maddon says really matters
UPDATE, 12:27: SS Yunel Escobar tested his sore/tight shoulder by making about 40 throws at up to 90 feet and was said to be feeling better, but it is still unclear whether he will return soon to the lineup or go on the DL. He was going to take some swings in the cage and the Rays were expected to make a decision later today.
3B Evan Longoria said that with the team playing better the confidence within the clubhouse is higher than it has been all season.
Also, Longoria said Saturday was the first time he could remember losing the grip on his bat and having it fly into the stands. He said he knew he looked like a bad guy for taking the bat back, but he wanted to keep that one and later signed a different bat and gave it to the fan.
UPDATE, 11:02: And here is the Rays lineup:
UPDATE, 10:58: Here is the Orioles lineup:
DEVELOPING: If the Rays have any hope of salvaging this season and making a run at a playoff spot - or even respectability - they have to start winning series to do so.
So after they beat the Orioles Saturday to win two of the first three in what became a four-game series due to the makeup of the April 15 rainout, manager Joe Maddon - who almost never says any one game is more important than another - pretty much said today's game is very important, about as much of a must-win as there can be on June 29 anyway.
"We have to start winning series,'' Maddon said. "We have to attempt to take the series here. They're going to come out ready to go, the Orioles are. They're a lot closer to the top. But if we're going to get back there, this is the kind of game we have to somehow figure out.''
The Rays have a long way to go of course, as they start the day with a majors-worst 34-49 record, which leaves then 11 games behind the AL East-leading Blue Jays, 10 games behind the second wild-card holding Mariners, and 1 game behind the Diamondbacks and Padres to escape the MLB cellar.
The Rays will send RHP Alex Cobb to the mound, with Cobb confident he has fixed his mechanical issues. The Orioles are starting RHP Miguel Gonzalez.