LHP Matt Moore became the first eight-game winner in the majors as the Rays completed a three-game sweep of the Orioles with a 3-1 win. Moore moved to a perfect 8-0 in working seven innings, allowing the one runs and five hits, striking out three. Joel Peralta worked the eighth and Fernando Rodney, who blew his last save chance on Thursday, the ninth for his eight save. The Rays moved to a season-high three games over .500 at 23-20, and open a three-game series at Toronto on Monday. The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the third when Yunel Escobar, the first batter to reach for either team, drew a two-out walk and came around on Desmond Jennings’ double to left. The O’s tied it in the fourth when Joyce and Desmond Jennings nearly collided on Manny Machado’s drive to right-center, resulting in a triple, then the run on Adam Jones’ single. The Rays took the lead with a pair of home runs. One was simple, a leadoff shot by ex-Oriole Luke Scott in the fifth. The other, not so much. Matt Joyce lined a ball that hit at the top of the rightfield wall and just below the foul pole. The umpires initially called it fair, and, with Joyce at second, thus a double. Which led to both managers protesting – the Orioles Buck Showalter that it was foul, the Rays Joe Maddon that it was a home run. The umps talked it over with each manage, then amongst themselves, then paired off two with each manager, then huddled again before finally going to the replay – and ruling it was, as most viewers knew, a home run.
UPDATE, 12:23: With a fresh arm in LHP Jeff Beliveau, Maddon said the bullpen is pretty much back to full strength, with only Cesar Ramos likely unavailable. .. C Jose Molina is available on what Maddon said was an emergency basis. ..A break for Matt Moore in that O's are not playing C Matt Wieters, who was 6-for-11 against him with two homers.
Here is the Orioles lineup:
Markakis rf Machado 3b Jones cf Davis 1b Pearce lf Hardy ss Valencia dh Navarro 2b Snyder c Tillman p
DEVELOPING: After two straight tense wins over the Orioles, the Rays will look to make it a clean sweep today, and will have major-league wins leader Matt Moore on the mound looking to go 8-0.
C Jose Molina, who left Saturday's game with left hamstring tightness, was moving around the clubhouse okay this morning but is not in the lineup.
Here is the Rays lineup: Jennings cf Joyce rf Zobrist 2b Longoria 3b Loney 1b Scott dh Johnson lf Lobaton c Escobar ss Moore p
The Rays made the official announcement after Saturday's game that RHP Jake Odorizzi will start Monday in Toronto in place of David Price.
The corresponding move to create space on the roster for Odorizzi will be announced after Sunday's game.
Odorizzi was the Rays choice based on his work on Durham, and the decision was not dependent on Saturday's game - such as whether Alex Torres was used - since Odorizzi was already in Baltimore before the game was over.
Whatever momentum the Rays had left after Friday's tenser-than-it-had-to-be 12-10 win over the Orioles seemd to be sapped by a rough first inning Saturday when starter Roberto Hernandez put them in a four-run hole. But the Rays (22-20) scored enough to get back in, and relievers Cesar Ramos and Alex Torres did a good job keeping it close to set up a big finish, a rally for six runs in the ninth that instead gave them a rewarding 10-6 win on a cool, damp Preakness afternoon in Baltimore. Matt Joyce was the offensive star, knocking in a career-high matching five runs, most importantly witrh a two-run double that put the Rays ahead 7-6 as they rallied against usually dominant Orioles closer Jim Johnson. Joyce also homered in the third and doubled in a run in the fifth. Torres got the win for his impressive work, four innings with no hits and two walks. The six runs in the ninth were one short of the Rays record. Their rally started with a one-out homer by Kelly Johnson, then walks to Jose Lobaton and Yunel Escobar, and a bloop, broken-bat single by Desmond Jennings. Joyce dodubled in two runs, then Ben Zobrist did the same.After a bloop double by Evan Longoria - extending his hitting streak to a career-high matching 12 - James Loney was walked and Luke Scott drew a walk to force in the final run. The Rays did tie a team record with eight doubles in the game, and logged 10 extra base hits for the first time since June 2009 vs. Colorado.
Jennings cf Joyce rf Zobrist 2b Longoria 3b Loney 1b Scott dh Johnson lf Molina c Escobar ss Hernandez p
DEVELOPING: Having hung on for a tenser-than-it-should-have-been 12-10 victory Friday night, the Rays hope to beat the rain and the Orioles again Saturday with Roberto Hernandez on the mound.
The bullpen will be something of a question mark, as the Rays were forced to use Joel Peralta for a four-out save on Friday and warm up Fernando Rodney, so it's possible neither will be available today.
The Orioles are starting Jair Jurrjens, the former Tigers and Braves pitcher who began the year with their Triple-A team.
The forecast for afternoon showers has improved slightly, with the higher percentages of rain not likely now until the 6-7 p.m. range. First pitch today is at 4:05, and the game is on Fox national (Ch. 13 in Tampa Bay) not Sun Sports.
We still don't know when the Rays and Royals will makeup their May 2 snowed out game in Kansas City, but was told today by an informed source it won't be June 3, which was the date the players on both teams had agreed on.
Though the teams share three common off-days, none work in terms of the myriad MLB and players union rules, such as how many days in a row a team can play.
The other two dates - July 29 and Aug. 26 remain in dicussion.
The July 29 date would extend what already is an 11-day three-city road trip for the Rays to open the second half, with a workout and three games in Toronto, then four games in Boston and three in New York.
The Aug. 26 date falls between two home series for the Rays, so they would basically just fly up to Kansas City for the day.
Jeremy Hellickson has had problems holding leads and going deep into games, two trends the Rays are hoping he will halt.
UPDATE, 6:02: Maddon said Rodney most likely is unavailable tonight and that he would decide on a closer based on the situation, though it sounds like Peralta would be the guy, unless they need him in the eighth ... Maddon also said they are confident Rodney can work through his command issues and that it doesn't appear that he needs mechanical adjustments but the proper mindset. ... No announcement yet on Monday's starter, as Maddon said it was still among the four candidates - Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, Alex Torres (who is here in the bullpen) and Alex Colome. Maddon acknowledged Archer is least likely since he was on a 75-pitch limit when he started Thursday. …
Rays pitchers Matt Moore (yes, that's him), Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson and Cesar Ramos were in the spirit.
Thursday's frustrating loss to the Red Sox didn't stop the Rays from their planned camo dress up trip to Baltimore, and there were - no surprise - some creative looks. Here are a few samples, courtesy of the Rays.
Rays closer Fernando Rodney talks about blowing his third save of the season in a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
Rodney, an All-Star last season, has more blown saves than he did all of 2012, when he had two. Rodney walked a career-high four batters in the ninth, before giving up a bases-clearing double to Will Middlebrooks to erase a 3-1 lead.
Alex Torres delivers a pitch during a 2012 spring training game against the Orioles in Port Charlotte.
LHP Alex Torres was sitting in his room Wednesday night with Triple A Durham teammate and roommate Alex Colome wondering if he'd get the call.
Both pitchers knew they could get brought up as a temporary fill-in for the Rays bullpen, taking roster spot of injured ace LHP David Price (triceps strain).
At midnight, Torres received word - it was him.
"I'm so happy," he said Thursday.
Torres, 25, has bounced back with a strong start this year after struggling last season. He said he gained confidence in winter ball and it's carried over, boosting his command. He had 49 strikeouts and just 14 walks w Durham this year.
Torres, who has had a few short stints in the big leagues the past two years, believes he's more prepared now.
"I think the confidence I have right now, that's the key," Torres said. "Last year I had all the pitches, but I didn't have that type of confidence. This year I can throw my slider, my change up in any count. That's why I've been able to throw the ball well at Triple A."
The Tampa Bay Rays will head into the 2013 season with Evan Longoria, David Price, Fernando Rodney and a few new faces. Can they best the Yankees and Orioles in the highly competitive AL East? Come here to follow Rays news at Tropicana Field and beyond.