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Morning after off day: Rays ready for slumping O's

The Rays will attempt tonight to do what so far has been impossible this season: climb four games above .500.

The last time the Rays sniffed that rarified air was July 1, 2015 when they were 42-38.

They currently sit at 39-36, three games above .500 for the third time this season.

Their opponent this weekend: The Orioles, who appear to have run off the rails.

Thursday’s 6-3 loss at home to the Indians was the O’s 13th loss in their last 19 games. What’s more, they have allowed at least five runs in each of those games.

Other than that glass ceiling at three games above .500, this series bodes well for the Rays.

They are 23-16 at the Trop, having won nine of their last 12 under the roof.

They are scheduled to face three right-handed starters this weekend, and they are 30-20 against righties.

On the other hand, they are only 14-17 inside the division.

Yet, they face a struggling Orioles squad that is without 1B Chris Davis (strained right oblique) and SS J.J. Hardy (broken wrist.)

Also, 3B Manny Machado is batting .228.  …

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Some minor comings, including UTL Martinez opting for free agency

UTL Michael Martinez, acquired from the Indians for cash on May 18 when 2B Brad Miller was placed on the DL for the first time this season, cleared waivers Thursday and elected free agency.

Martinez played 13 games for the Rays and hit .077 after getting two hits in 26 at-bats.

Martinez was designated for assignment Monday when the Rays added INF Trevor Plouffe to the roster.

 

The Rays also signed minor league RHP Mike Broadway, who was released June 2 by the Nationals. He was assigned to Double A Montgomery. Broadway pitched in 25 games during the last two seasons for the Giants. He was 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. He had an 11.81 ERA in 5 1/3 innings this season.

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For starters: Rays vs. Reds, with no Longoria, Rasmus, Beckham

Erasmo Ramirez, who may be pitching to keep his job in the rotation, is on the mound for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Erasmo Ramirez, who may be pitching to keep his job in the rotation, is on the mound for the Rays.

UPDATE, 10:37: Cash said Rasmus has been dealing with "a little bit of a sore hip,'' which explains why he hasn't been in the lineup for three straight games. Cash said he is available, but the bigger concern is not making it worse and losing him for a longer period. ... Cash sald this is a planned day off for Longoria, that there is nothing wrong or any injury (foot) issue. ... Cash said there is no good reason or excuse for the poor outfield play, and that playing in the dome is not one.

DEVELOPING: The Rays are looking to make it two straight and a series win over the Reds today, but will be doing so without several frontline players.

Among those not in the lineup are 3B Evan Longoria (getting the benefit of two days off_, OF/DF Colby Rasmus (who hasn't played since Sunday) and SS Tim Beckham (hit on the hand by a pitch Monday).

RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who may be pitching to keep his job in the rotation, is on the mound for the Rays. RHP Tim Adleman is starting for the Reds.

Here is the Rays lineup: …

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For starters: Rays vs. Reds, with no Beckham

Alex Cobb will be on the mound for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Cobb will be on the mound for the Rays.

UPDATE, 5:07: Beckham didn' have much of an update except to say he hoped to be back within a couple days; Cash said that he hopes to not have to use hin tonight or in Wednesday's matinee and then get him back Friday. ... Cash said Ramos and Boxberger both remain on track to return later this week. ... 2B Brad Miller (groin strain) and RHP Diego Moreno (shoulder) are shut down from any baseball activit.

Here is the Reds lineup:
Hamilton cf
Gennett 2b
Votto 1b
Duvall lf
Suarez 3b
Schebler rf
Mesoraco dh
Barnhart c
Peraza ss
Garrett p


 …

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Jose Alvarado has improved his control. Now he needs better command.

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jose Alvarado delivers against the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field on Saturday, June 10, 2017.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jose Alvarado delivers against the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field on Saturday, June 10, 2017.

As the only lefty currently in the Rays bullpen, Jose Alvarado frequently enters the game to retire left-handed hitters. He's struggled to start the 2017 season, though, with a 5.29 ERA in 17 innings. While his peripheral statistics are more encouraging — he has a 3.66 FIP, based on his rates of strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed — he hasn't put up the sort of dominating numbers you'd expect from someone with his ability.

This year, Alvarado has averaged 98.52 mph on his four-seam fastball, according to Brooks Baseball. That's incredible for anyone, but especially for a left-hander — among the 93 southpaws with at least 100 four-seamers this year, only the Yankees' Aroldis Chapman (99.98) and the Pirates' Felipe Rivero (98.53) have thrown theirs harder. …

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Rays morning after: Rookie Jose Alvarado has right perspective, wrong result

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jose Alvarado (46) delivers in the sixth inning of the second game of a doubleheader between the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Saturday, June 10, 2017.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jose Alvarado (46) delivers in the sixth inning of the second game of a doubleheader between the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Saturday, June 10, 2017.

LHP Jose Alvarado has pitched at times like a veteran since his unexpected promotion from Double-A, and after giving up the eighth-inning hits that led to Monday's 7-3 loss to the Reds, he sounded like one.

"I don't feel that frustrated at all, it's part of baseball,'' he said in Spanish. "Just have to take the good days and the bad days. It's a learning experience and move on, try to do better next time. ... Things are going to happen.''

The Rays had just rallied in the seventh to tie the game 3-3 when manager Kevin Cash summoned Alvarado for a tough task, knowing he would face Joey Votto, the lefty swinger who is one of the game's best.

Alvarado got off to a bad start, falling behind Scooter Gennett - the Sarasota High product of the recent four-homer fame - 1-0 before giving up the leadoff double.

Then he did the same to Votto, who followed with an RBI single that put the Reds ahead to stay.

"Joey Votto, he's as good as anybody in baseball,'' Cash said. "The only thing and it'd probably be nitpicking, but he fell behind those guys. Saying that, tip your cap. Scooter, he hits a double down the line and then Joey doesn't waste any time and hits a base hit up the middle to regain the lead."

After Alvarado walked Adam Duvall, Cash went to Danny Farquhar, who eventually gave up a bases-loaded two-run single to Jesse Winker that expanded the lead to 6-3.

With Alvarado the only lefty in the pen, Cash said that was the right spot for him to face the toughest lefty hitters.

"You only have one lefty, you've got one bullet, you basically try to save it for that spot,'' Cash said.

As impressive as Alvarado has been at times, he has failed the Rays twice in key situations in the last week and has a 5.29 ERA. The return of Brad Boxberger, potentially as soon as Friday, could help as the veteran righthander can be very effective against lefties. …

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Tim Beckham leaves game with bruised left hand after HBP

UPDATE, 9:04: Rays say x-rays were negative so it's a bruise for Beckham and "day to day" status.

DEVELOPING: SS Tim Beckham left Monday's game shortly after being hit on the left hand by a pitch.

Beckham was hit on the fat part of his left hand, near the pinky, by a Scott Feldman pitch in the fourth innung and was obvious pain. He was checked by head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield and stayed in to run the bases, but was checked again after the Rays made three outs and left the game, with Danial Robertson sliding over to short and Taylor Featherston taking over at second.

Beckham, who has been filling in all season for injured Matt Duffy, has been a key part of the Rays success, going into play Monday hitting .280 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs, both third most in the AL among shortstops.

 

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For starters: Plouffe at DH for Rays

Trevor Plouffe, added to the roster today, will serve as the designated hitter.

AP photo

Trevor Plouffe, added to the roster today, will serve as the designated hitter.

The Rays (37-35) begin a six-game road trip tonight with the first of three against the NL Central cellar-dwellers, the Reds (29-39).

Reds righty Scott Feldman (5-5, 4.29) faces Jake Odorizzi (4-3, 3.77).

Trevor Plouffe, added to the roster today in place of UTL Michael Martinez, who was designated for assignment, will serve as the DH.

No Reds lineup yet.

Here is the Rays lineup:

Smith CF

Dickerson LF

Longoria 3B

Morrison 1B

Souza RF

Beckham SS

Plouffe DH

Robertson 2B

Norris C

 

Odorizzi RHP

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Rays DFA Michael Martinez to make room for Trevor Plouffe

Michael Martinez was essentially a spare part, starting twice in their last 22 games.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Michael Martinez was essentially a spare part, starting twice in their last 22 games.

The Rays made the first of what will be several roster moves this week, DFA-ing INF Michael Martinez this morning to make room on the roster for INF Trevor Plouffe.

Martinez was essentially a spare part, starting twice in their last 22 games, and hitting just .077 in 13 games since joining the team in mid-May. The Rays announced plans to DFA him on June 7, but kept him when Brad Miller went back on the DL. In dumping Martinez, the Rays opted to keep Taylor Featherston, who was acquired June 9.

Plouffe was acquired Saturday for little cost from the A's, who had DFA'd him two days earlier, on his 31st birthday, folliowing a slow start. The Rays are banking he can add some righthanded production to their lineup vs. lefty starters (they face one Tuesday) and be a capable fill-in at third and first base, where Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison have played almost every day. Plouffe - pronounced PLOOF - hit 22 homers in 2015 when still with Minnesota.

The Rays will be looking at several roster moves this week as they are expected to activate C Wilson Ramos and RHP Brad Boxberger off the DL, and may drop RHP Erasmo Ramirez from the rotation.

 

 

 

 

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After four-HR game, Sarasota HS grad Scooter Gennett comes to Trop

Scooter Gennett of the Cincinnati Reds singles against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on June 8, 2017.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Scooter Gennett of the Cincinnati Reds singles against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on June 8, 2017.

When the Rays face off with the Reds tonight, it won't just be the team's third interleague series of the year.

For only the second time in his big-league career, second baseman Scooter Gennett — who made history two weeks ago by hitting four home runs in one game — will make the journey to the Trop.

At age 10, Gennett and his family moved from Cincinnati to Sarasota so he could play baseball year-round. In Florida, Gennett blossomed into one of the top prep players in the nation. He starred for Sarasota High School, slashing .470/.542/.771 in 27 games during his senior year.

Drafted by the Brewers in the 16th round of the 2009 draft, Gennett passed up a Florida State scholarship to start as a professional. He worked his way through the minors, making his MLB debut on June 3, 2013.

In four years and 1,637 plate appearances for Milwaukee, Gennett posted a .279/.318/.420 batting line and started 380 games at second base. He played two games against the Rays in Tropicana Field on July 28 and 29, 2014. …

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For starters: Rays at Tigers, underway after a rain delay

Rookie Jake Faria, impressive in his first two starts, will be on the mound for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Rookie Jake Faria, impressive in his first two starts, will be on the mound for the Rays.

UPDATE, 1:41: The Rays and Tigers are underway after the 31-minute delay.

UPDATE, 1:08: The rain is ending and the tarp coming off, with a tentative start time of 1:40 announced.

UPDATE, 1:02: The start of the game will be delayed due to rain coming through downtown Detroit.

UPDATE, 11:35; Cash said Ramos and Boxberger both came through their Saturday rehab appearances with Durham well, and remain on track to return this week. ... One key to Faria's success has been his composure on the mound, Cash said, another was how he used his slider against the Blue Jays. 

Tigers lineup:
Kinsler 2b
Avila dh
Cabrera 1b
JD Martinez rf
Upton lf
Castellanos 3b
Presley cf
McCann c
Machado ss
Farmer p

 

UPDATE, 10:04: Rasmus is at DH and Norris is catching Faria. Here is the Rays lineup:

Smith cf,
Dickerson lf,
Longoria 3b,
Morrison 1b,
Souza rf,
Rasmus dh,
Beckham ss,
Robertson 2b,
Norris c
Faria p


 …

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For starters: Rays at Tigers, with Chris Archer looking to stop skid

Rays will start Chris archer on the mound against Detroit this evening.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Rays will start Chris archer on the mound against Detroit this evening.

UPDATE, 2:52: Cash said he felt the Rays had four deserving All-Stars in DH Corey Dickerson, 1B Logan Morrison, RHP Alex Colome and RHP Chris Archer.

UPDATE, 2:49: Cash said Souza felt something on his hamstring on the awkward turn at 1B on Friday so that's why he is DHing today. ... Norris is catching in part because he has worked well with Archer and in part because Sucre has not caught three straight days. ... Reminder, today's game is on FS1, not Fox Sports Rays. ... The Rays tied a franchise record last night with three triples.

Here is the Tigers lineup:
Kinsler 2b
Avila c
Cabrera 1b
JD Martinez dh
Upton lf
Presley cf
Romine 3b
Mahtook rf
Iglesias ss
Fulmer p

DEVELOPING: The Rays are looking to stop a three-game losing streak when they take on the Tigers today at 4:10, and feel they - once again - have the right guy on the mound to do so in Chris Archer.

Here is the Rays lineup:

Smith cf,
Dickerson lf,
Longoria 3b,
Morrison 1b,
Souza DH,
Rasmus RF,
Beckham SS,
Robertson 2b,
Norris c,
Archer p

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Rays acquire Trevor Plouffe from A's, will add him to roster Monday

Trevor Plouffe (24), pictured here during his time playing for the Minnesota Twins, was acquired by the Rays from Oakland on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Trevor Plouffe (24), pictured here during his time playing for the Minnesota Twins, was acquired by the Rays from Oakland on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

UPDATE, 2:59: Cash said the Rays got Plouffe primarily to improve their right-handed hitting, hoping a change of scenery will help him. They see him playing 1B and 3B, so they can get some rest for Longoria and Morrison, "will explore" some other possibilities such as the corner outfield spots. Cash said the Rays feel "without a doubt" Plouffe can contribute, and acknowledged they talked extensively this winter about signing him before he went to Oakland. "For us to be able to get him here two months, three months, in is a good thing for us,'' Cash said. ... The Rays will end up being responsible for about $1-million of Plouffe's salary.

UPDATE, 12:26: The A's provided more information on the deal, noting in the press relelase that they are also sending the Rays cash to offset some of the $3-million plus remaining on Plouffe's salary, and can get back a player to be named or cash. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the A's are sending the Rays more than $2-million. …

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Rays sign 2nd-round pick Michael Mercado, who had Stanford offer

The Rays made their first big deal with a draft pick, signing 2nd round pick RHP Michael Mercado, who had an offer from Stanford.

The deal is for around $2-million, the Times has learned, which puts it slightly above the $1.714-million slot value. The Rays do not release signing information.

"We are thrilled to have Michael signed and now formally part of the Rays organization,'' scouting director Rob Metzler said. "Anytime we can add a young starting pitching prospect with this collection of ingredients, both in terms of physical projection and current skill, it is an integral part of our draft class. As referenced on Monday night, our ability to draft and sign Michael was greatly helped by the relationship formed between Jaime Jones (territory supervisor) and the Mercado family over multiple years.''

 

 

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Rays hold players-only meeting to talk about tightening defense

Rays players held a 15-minute players only meeting before Friday's game to talk about the need to tighten up their defense - physically and mentally - after seeing missed plays and misplays factor heavily in back to back defeats.

"It was good,'' 1B Logan Morrison said. "It was more like, we've been playing not great baseball and we've been able to win a lot of games and it's been really impressive, so keep it going and tighten it up a little bit on defense. That's all. That's it.''

Rays manager Kevin Cash said in his pre-game media session that they need to tighten up as well.

 

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