For starters, Rays vs. Rangers, beginning a big series
Update 5:39 p.m. RHP Jesse Crain (shoulder) was nervous before today's throwing session - the first time he'd face hitters in a couple months.
But Crain was very encouraged with how he felt, and threw, in a 30-plus pitch session, saying it was better than he expected, and if he had to give it a grade, it'd be an "A." Crain faced hitters C Chris Gimenez and OF Sam Fuld, who said "everything was pretty sharp."
Crain said the key will be how he feels Tuesday. If all goes well, Crain could join the bullpen in a couple days, with manager Joe Maddon saying they'd work him in slowly, not "throwing him to the wolves" right away. Crain said he's not 100 percent where he was, but around 90 percent, and can be effective.
Crain said the long process has been "frustrating," but believes they did the right thing by taking it step by step, and appreciated all the teammate support, considering he hadn't thrown a pitch for the Rays yet.
*The Rays are still considering a few more call-ups, including 2008 top pick INF Tim Beckham, but that likely won't happen until after Triple-A Durham plays in Tuesday's national championship game.
*The Rays are looking forward to facing ex-Ray Matt Garza, and did a bit if pre-game preparation, going through some bunting drills (as Garza isn't great at fielding them).
*LHP David Price was named the Rays nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, given each year to the player that represents what the Hall of Famer embodied off the field. Price said he was honored, especially being linked with Clemente, saying he's always tried to give back and be a role model.
*It's just another day in Rays-land when Holly Sonders, the host of Golf Channel's morning drive, was hitting golf balls before batting practice with LHP David Price. Sonders will throw out the first pitch tonight and, let's say, drew quite a bit of attention pre-game.
Update 5:30 p.m. Here's the Rays lineup to face Matt Garza.
Developing: The Rays begin what could be a crucial four-game series tonight with the Rangers, whom they are tied with for the top American League wild card spot.
There are several teams bunched up behind them, including the red-hot Indians, who are just 1/2 games back.
Tampa Bay snapped a three-game winning streak Sunday with a frustrating loss, as RHP Joel Peralta gave up four runs in the eighth inning to fall 6-4 to the Twins. The Rangers, meanwhile, are reeling, having lost six straight.
Should be a good pitching matchup tonight with RHP Alex Cobb and ex-Rays RHP Matt Garza, the 2008 ALCS MVP for Tampa Bay.
There could be a call-up, too, with INF Tim Beckham - the former 2008 top overall pick - possibly getting his first stint in the majors.
RHP Jesse Crain (shoulder) is expected to throw to hitters before today's game, which could be the last step before he gets activated from the DL and put in game action.
Lineups, and more, to come.