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For starters: Rays vs. Dodgers, with Moore on the mound

Matt Moore will start for the Rays tonight.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Matt Moore will start for the Rays tonight.

UPDATE, 5:46: Lots of hugs from the contingent of former Rays who are in town with the Dodgers. ... RHP Brad Boxberger threw his third bullpen session and on Friday will advance to the next stage of his recovery from core muscle repair surgery when he throws live batting practice in Port Charlotte. If all goes well he will do so again Monday and then start a rehab assignment of about a half dozen appearances ... Cash said the Rays will keep their rotatioin in order through the weekend in Anaheim, and then add a fifth starter in Seattle. ....

Here is the Rays lineup, with a right-handed lead against Kazmir:
Forsythe 2b
Guyer DH
Longoria 3b
Pearce 1b
Souza rf
Jennings lf
Beckham ss
Kiermaier cf
Casali c
Moore p

Dodgers
Hernandez dh
Puig rf
Gonzalez 1b
Turner 3b
Kendrick 2b
Thompson lf
Ellis c
Pederson cf
CUlberson ss
Kazmir p

DEVELOPING: The Dodgers tonight make their visit to the Trop since 2007, but they have several familiar faces — ex-Rays OF Carl Crawford, LHP J.P. Howell and LHP Scott Kazmir, along with top baseball executive Andrew Friedman.

Crawford returns as one of the best players in Rays history, a topic covered in today's Tampa Bay Times. …

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For starters: Rays vs. Jays, on Archer day

Chris Archer, coming off his first win of the season on Monday, will be on the mound for the Rays against a Jays lineup that beat him on opening day.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Chris Archer, coming off his first win of the season on Monday, will be on the mound for the Rays against a Jays lineup that beat him on opening day.

UPDATE, 4:17: Cash said he needs to find ways to get Guyer involved more since he has been swinging well and a number of Rays are struggling. ... He also said he is leaning towards making Souza the No. 5 hitter, which means dropping Jennings to 7 when they face a lefty. .... Boxberger threw a 30-pitch bullpen and will throw another early next week and then advance to two live batting practice sessions. ... Cobb and Whitley also threw bullpen sessions.

Blue Jays lineup:
Saunders lf
Donaldson 3b
Bautista rf
Encarnacion dh
Tulowitzki ss
Smoak 1b
Pillar cf
Goins 2b
Thole c
Happ p

DEVELOPING: After another frustrating loss on Friday, the Rays take on the Blue Jays again tonight at 6:10.

All-Star ace RHP Chris Archer, coming off his first win of the season on Monday, will be on the mound for the Rays against a Jays lineup that beat him on opening day.

LHP J.A. Happ, who has given the Rays trouble in the past, is starting for the Jays,

The Rays have their usual heavy right-handed lineup in place, though with Desmond Jennings (0-for-16, 1-for-20) dropped behind Steven Souza Jr., who is getting a DH day.

Rays lineup: …

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Former All-Star reliever Grant Balfour officially retires

Former AL All-Star reliever Grant Balfour has decided to officially retire, ending a 19-year pro career.


"I had a pretty good career,'' Balfour told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday. "I was lucky to play for such a long time. .. I got to do a lot of things. ... It was definitely a lot of fun.''


The Australian native pitched parts of 12 seasons in the majors, making the 2013 AL All-Star team when with Oakland and five trips to the postseason, including the Rays' 2008 run to the World Series. He last pitched for the Rays in April 2015, and after being released made a brief comeback attempt with Triple-A Durham.


Balfour, 38, read some remarks he had composed:


"I want to thank firstly my family for their support throughout my career. If not for them I would never have had the opportunities that I got.


"Secondly I want to thank every organization who I played for during my career - the manager and coaches who helped me develop into the player that I was, and also the teammates I played with. …

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For starters: Rays vs. Blue Jays with Smyly on the mound

Drew Smyly will start on the mound for the Rays tonight.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Drew Smyly will start on the mound for the Rays tonight.

Here is the Rays' lineup for today's game against the Blue Jays, in which Brandon Guyer takes the place of a slumping Desmond Jennings (hitless in his past 16 at-bats):

2B Forsythe

SS Miller

3B Longoria

DH Dickerson

RF Souza Jr.

1B Morrison

LF Guyer

CF Kiermaier

C Casali

P Smyly

 

And for the Blue Jays:

LF Saunders

3B Donaldson

RF Bautista

DH Encarnacion

SS Tulowitzki

1B Smoak

C Martin

CF Pillar

P Goins

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Here's that amazing catch by Rays OF Steven Souza Jr.

Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. flips his helmet after grounding out to end the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. flips his helmet after grounding out to end the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1.

Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. made a spectacular running/diving/flying through the air catch in Wednesday's game against the Orioles, earning high praises from his teammates. Manager Kevin Cash provided the ultimate compliment with a nod toward Gold- and Platinum Glove award-winning CF Kevin Kiermaier, saying it was "KK-esque.'' And Kiermaier told Souza Jr. it was "Platinum-ish.''

Here, thanks to mlb.com, is video of the catch with the calls by Dewayne Staats on Fox Sports Sun and Dave Wills on WDAE 620-AM and the rest of the Rays radio network:

 

 

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For starters: Rays vs. Orioles, looking for a sweep

Matt Moore will be on the mound for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Matt Moore will be on the mound for the Rays.

UPDATE, 4:55: RHP Brad Boxberger threw 25 pitches off the mound in what he considered his first real bullpen session, aiming for a mid-May return from core muscle repair surgery. ...

Cash said he has been pleased with how the offense has come around though it needs to be more efficient.  ...

With a win tonight, the Rays would be over .500 for the first time since Aug. 22. ...

The Rays, per Elias, have scored 15 of their last 18 runs with two outs, and overall 42 of 70, the highest percentage (60) in the majors.

Here is the Orioles lineup:
Rickard rf
Machado 3b
Jones cf
Davis 1b
Trumbo dh
Wieters c
Hardy ss
Reimold lf
Schoop 2b
Tillman p

UPDATE, 3:10: Hank Conger is back behind the plate for the Rays, making his first start since Saturday. Overall, Curt Casali has started 9 of the last 11 games, and replaced Conger for defensive purposes on Saturday. Controlling the running game has been an issue for Conger, as he has allowed 11 stolen bases this season and 48 straight going to early last season with Houston.

Here is the Rays lineup:

Forsythe 2b, 

Miller ss,
Longoria 3b,
Dickerson dh,
Jennings lf,
Morrison 1b,
Souza rf,
Kiermaier cf,
Conger c,
Moore p …

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For starters: Rays vs. Orioles, with Miller 2nd, Morrison 6th

Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays.

UPDATE, 5:40: Manager Kevin Cash decided to make a change in the lineup, moving SS Brad Miller, who is hitting .130, to the No. 2 spot and dropping 1B Logan Morrison, hitting .080, to 6th. Cash said he would try it that way for an undetermined amount of time, hoping the different look gets one or both going. ... Miller said he was excited by the opportunity because he sees himself as a catalyst-type player. ... RHP Brad Boxberger saw his surgeon on Monday in Philadelphia and was cleared to resume full baseball activity in his return from core muscle surgery, seeking a mid- to late-May return. ... Although C Curt Casali has gotten the bulk of the playing time, Cash said Hank Conger will continue to play and is likely to start in Wednesday.



Rays lineup:
Forsythe 2b
Miller ss
Longoria 3b
Dickerson dh
Jennings lf
Morrison 1b
Souza rf
Kiermaier cf
Casali c
Odorizzi p

Orioles lineup:
Rickard lf
Jones cf
Machado 3b
Davis 1b
Trumbo rf
Hardy ss
Alvarez dh
Schoop 2b
Joseph c
Jimenez p

 

 

DEVELOPING: After Monday's 2-0 win, the Rays take on the Orioles again tonight at 7:10.

RHP Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez for the Orioles.

Lineups when available.

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For starters, Orioles vs. Rays, 7:10 p.m.

Chris Archer will start tonight for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Chris Archer will start tonight for the Rays.

UPDATE, 4:45 P.M. A day after Kevin Cash indicated versatile INF Steve Pearce was making it tough on him to keep out of the lineup, the Rays manager is starting the Lakeland High alumnus -- and his right-handed bat -- against Orioles RHP Kevin Gausman.

Pearce, who had his first multi-hit game in Sunday's rout of the Yankees, starts at first in place of left-handed hitting Logan Morrison, 4-for-50 as a Ray. Cash said the thought process all along was to try and periodically finesse Pearce into the lineup against right-handers.

"Not making an excuse, but the off-days kind of put a wrinkle in things, and then we had the rainout (April 9 at Baltimore)," Cash said. "Pearce is a big part of our lineup, Logan Morrison is a big part of our lineup...it's on me to kind of balance that a little bit."

Meantime, RHP Chris Archer will try to emerge from his season-opening slump with new battery mate Curt Casali. Hank Conger, whose offensive (.182) and defensive struggles have been well-chronicled, caught Archer's first four starts of the season.

"Just giving a different look," Cash said. …

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Souza has birthday bash as Rays hit 5 homers in 8-1 win

 Steven Souza Jr. had quite a birthday bash Sunday, hitting two home runs to lead the Rays to an 8-1 win over the Yankees. …

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For starters: Rays at Yankees, after 2 tough losses

UPDATE, 12:30: Cash said it is a tough decision but in a close game he will again consider using Casali as a defensive replacement for Conger. ... Using Pearce more often - he is playing  for a 4th straight day (at 3 different positions) was part of the plan - once they got past some of the early off-days, Cash said.

Yankees lineup:
Ellsbury cf
Gardner lf
Beltran rf
Teixeira 1b
A-Rod dh
McCann c
Headley 3b
Castro 2b
Gregorius ss
Pineda p

UPDATE, 10:03: RHP Jhan Marinez joined the team today, wearing No. 50. RHP Alex Cobb was moved to the 60-day DL to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Marinez, who was at Durham.

 

DEVELOPING: After a pair of frustrating losses, the Rays are playing to avoid a three-game sweep today when they face the Yankees at 1:05.

LHP Drew Smyly, who has pitched very well, will be on the mound for the Rays, hard-throwing Michael Pineda for the Yankees.

As expected, Logan Forsythe is at DH today as Steve Pearce makes a fourth straight start, today at second base.

Here is the Rays lineup:

Forsythe dh,
Morrison 1b,
Longoria 3b,
Dickerson lf,
Pearce 2b,
Miller ss,
Souza rf,
Kiermaier cf,
Casali c,
Smyly p

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RHP Jhan Marinez called up to join Rays bullpen

RHP Jhan Marinez has been called up from Durham to join the Rays bullpen.

Marinez, 27, spent most of last season and the start of this season at Triple-A Durham,

He has previous big-league experience with the Marlins (four games in 2010) and White Sox (two games in 2012).

He essentially replaces RHP Danny Farquhar, who was sent down Friday to make room for LHP Blake Snell, who was sent down after starting Saturday,

 

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Impressive debut for Rays Blake Snell: 1 run in 5 innings

The kid was better than all right.

Rays top prospect Blake Snell made an impressive big-league debut Saturday at Yankee Stadium, allowing one run over five innings and leaving with a 2-1 lead. He would not get a win however as the Yankees tied the game in the seventh.

Snell, 23, was called up to fill an open spot in the Rays rotation and showed in his cameo appearance he is worthy of the hype.

Mixing an easy 95-mph fastball with a deep-bending curve, Snell allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out six.

He looked a bit unsettled in the first, getting two outs but then walking Carlos Beltran on four pitches and allowing a 1-2 single to Mark Teixeira on the corners. He got ahead of Alex Rodriguez 0-and-2, but then bounced a 1-2 pitch to Alex Rodriguez that eluded catcher Hank Conger and let Beltran score. He had another scare when Rodriguez flied to deep left, but Desmond Jennings made a leaping catch.

Snell came out much calmer and in command in second, striking out the side. For record-keeping, his first was Brian McCann looking at one of those nasty curves.

Snell got in a little bit of trouble in the third, when Jacoby Ellsbury reached on single up the middle and went to second on another wild pitch, and then out of it by retiring Brett Gardner and then Beltran.

For the day, Snell - wearing his favorite No. 4 - threw 90 pitches, 53 strikes, a quality show for the 12 relatives and friends, including his mom and girlfriend, who made the trip from Seattle.

He was the first Ray to make his big-league debut at Yankee Stadium as a starter, and the 33rd visiting pitcher overall. And he was the third Rays pitcher to make his debut in the Bronx, following Bobby Seay (2001) and David Price (2008). …

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For starters: Rays at Yankees, in Snell's debut

UPDATE, 11:58:  Some Snell-related notes:

* He will be the first Ray to make his big-league debut at Yankee Stadium as a starter, and the 33rd visiting pitcher overall.

* He is the third Rays pitcher to make his debut in the Bronx, following Bobby Seay (2001) and David Price (2008).

* At 23, he is the youngest Rays starter since Enny Romero, who was 22.

* He will be the 27th pitcher to start for the Rays since 2008, fewest in the majors during that span. The Giants are next at 29. The Dodgers have used the most at 59.

* He will wear No. 4 - his longtime favorite - and is the first Rays pitcher to sport single digits. Hideo Nomo had the previous lowest number at 11.

* He will have 12 friends and relatives in the stands, all making the trip from Seattle.

UPDATE, 11:55: Cash said he wanted to give Longoria either Friday or Saturday as a DH day and opted for the day game. Logan Forsythe may be the DH on Sunday. ... Cash continued to say there wasn't much the Rays could have done about the steal of home last night except for Moore to check on Ellsbury before starting his windup because they have to let the pitchers do what is most comfortable. ... Here is the Yankees lineup: …

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For starters: Rays at Yankees, on Moore's night

Matt Moore is set to start for the Rays tonight, coming off a strong Sunday outing vs. White Sox, where he fanned 10 in 6-1/3 innings with no walks.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Matt Moore is set to start for the Rays tonight, coming off a strong Sunday outing vs. White Sox, where he fanned 10 in 6-1/3 innings with no walks.

UPDATE, 3:30: CF Kevin Kiermaier is not in the Rays lineup, a day off on his 26th birthday. So with Brandon Guyer in CF, the Rays otherwise have their right-handed lineup in place.

Rays lineup:
Forsythe 2b,
Guyer cf,
Longoria 3b,
Dickerson dh,
Jennings lf,
Pearce 1b,
Souza rf,
Beckham ss,
Casali c,
Moore p

And the Yankees lineup:

Gardner lf
Castro 2b
Beltran rf
Teixeira 1b
Rodriguez dh
McCann c
Headley 3b
Hicks cf
Gregorius ss
Sabathia p

DEVELOPING: After Thursday's thrilling rollercoaster win to beat the Red Sox for the second time in three days, the Rays are in New York tonight to open a weekend series against the Yankees.

LHP Matt Moore is set to start for the Rays tonight, coming off a strong Sunday outing vs. White Sox, where he fanned 10 in 6 1/3 innings with no walks.

LHP CC Sabathia starts for the Yankees, who have lost three straight and seven of eight and are 5-9 overall.

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Rays calling up top prospect LHP Blake Snell to start Saturday

The Rays are calling up top prospect LHP Blake Snell to make his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

The Rays are calling up top prospect LHP Blake Snell to make his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.

UPDATE, 5:33: Manager Kevin Cash said the plan is for Snell to make one start and then go back to Triple-A. Cash said he earned the call-up, and doesn't expect him to be rattled.

Also, Snell will wear No. 4, the first Rays pitcher in single digits. The lowest previous number for a Tampa Bay pitcher was 11, worn by Hideo Nomo.

DEVELOPING: The Rays are calling up top prospect LHP Blake Snell to make his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

Snell is 1-1, 2,51 in three starts for Triple-A Durham, striking out 21 in 14 1/2 innings while allowing 15 hits and seven walks.

In the midst of playing nine straight, the Rays needed a fifth starter for Saturday. They had been planning on using RHP Erasmo Ramirez, but he was needed in relief on Thursday in Boston.

Snell, 23, made a rapid rise through the Rays system last year, moving from advanced Class A Charlotte to Double-A Montgomery to Durham, and was being considered for a September callup but the Rays fell out of the playoff race.

Snell, responding to a text on his flight to New York, said he was thrilled to make this debut on such a big stage. …

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