Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Andriese strong in spot start as Rays sweep Angels (w/video)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — When the Rays made the seven-player January 2014 trade with San Diego, it, quite honestly, didn't seem like much in the way of headline news.

The Rays were dealing Alex Torres, who had had a strong four months of mostly middle relief the season before, and a good but not great starting prospect in Jesse Hahn.

And what they were getting back didn't seem all that impressive. Logan Forsythe was a part-time middle infielder who had trouble staying healthy. Brad Boxberger had been primarily a Triple-A reliever with limited success in the majors. Matt Andriese was a starting prospect who had just gotten to Triple A and seemed a little more relevant, or at least alphabetically based, than the two others, reliever Matt Lollis and infielder Maxx Tissenbaum, thrown in.

And look what the Rays have now.

Forsythe has turned into one of the key two-way players in their lineup, and the league, winning last year's team MVP award and a fat contract. Boxberger was an 2015 All-Star and led the American League in saves.

And that Andriese kid?

In sporadic big-league duty last year, he showed glimpses of what he might be capable of.

Then Sunday, he came up from Triple A and put on a show.

Working seven solid innings, overcoming the nerves and self-applied pressure, pitching his way out of what little trouble he got into, Andriese led the Rays to a 3-1 win over the Angels that sealed a series sweep and pushed them over .500 for the first time this season at 15-14.

"For me, I felt like I was a big-name part of that deal, too," Andriese said. "I don't want to be looked at as the guy who was added to it. Logan has stepped up really well. And the same thing with Box. But I feel like I put my name in that contention as well. I'm just looking to build on each outing, and that was a good one to start with."

Andriese showed the Rays the sharp stuff that had impressed them in spring training and through a month at Durham. He showed poise, especially when he gave up a run in the first on two singles and a long Albert Pujols fly ball that was a few feet from being a crippling homer. He showed moxie, no more so than in the sixth when he had two on and no outs and the dangerous dynamic duo of Mike Trout and Pujols up and got a strikeout and a double play.

"He was awesome," catcher Curt Casali said. "He didn't skip a beat. You would never know he was in Triple A before this."

And he showed a flair for the dramatic.

Not only was this the stadium he would come to as a kid to see games, having grown up about 45 minutes away, rooting for the Angels.

But Sunday was the first time his mom, Lynn, was going to see him pitch in the big leagues.

And it just happened to be Mother's Day.

And …

"It was awesome," Lynn said afterward. "Couldn't ask for a better Mother's Day, that's for sure."

Sitting with husband Greg and their other two sons on a sun-splashed day, with dozens of friends in the stands, Lynn said the experience was awesome.

"More than what I could imagine," she said. "I was a little nervous at first, and once the second inning started, I seemed to calm down."

On the mound, Matt felt the same way. After the first, he allowed only two more singles and three walks through the seven innings, adding the W to the flowers that were Lynn's presents for the day.

"Couldn't have planned it any better," he said.

Andriese, 26, admits it can be "tough" being next in line, not having a spot in the majors. That, as much as having Lynn and the rest of the family and friends looking on, was why he felt the pressure to do well enough so Tampa Bay might keep him.

The Rays aren't sure, or at least aren't saying, whether Andriese will stay in rotation, pitch out of the bullpen until they next need a fifth starter next week or go back to Durham. He left with them for Seattle, so that was a good sign.

"It's not at some point, he's probably rotation ready," manager Kevin Cash said. "We're just very fortunate we have a really good rotation. … Matt Andriese can help us win, and he can help us win this season, without a doubt."

Turns out, it was quite a deal.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

 
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