Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays clinch season series win over Blue Jays

TORONTO — The Rays have known for months they weren't going anywhere this season. If the Blue Jays don't go to the playoffs, the Rays will end up being a big reason why.

The Rays' 6-2 win over the Jays on Tuesday was their 10th in 18 games between the American League East foes in 2016, with the finale today, marking the eighth time in nine years the Rays have won the season series.

"We sit back and wonder," RF Steven Souza Jr. said. "That's one of the best ballclubs in the league, and we always, even last year, we play them tough. That's a great environment to play in. They bring their A game every day, and so it kind of forces us to bring our A game. If we could harness that and play the rest of the league like that we'd be a pretty good ballclub."

Making Tuesday's loss more stinging, key Rays contributors came from a group of previously discarded players including SS Alexei Ramirez, LHP Dana Eveland and RHP Danny Farquhar.

The Rays (61-83) built their lead on two home runs, a three-run shot by Ramirez, who was signed last week after being released by the Padres to provide some infield depth, in the fifth and a solo shot by Souza in the seventh, then added on in the ninth.

They kept it after a strong 5?-inning start by LHP Drew Smyly thanks to the work of five relievers. Eveland, in his first outing since being summoned back to action from his California home a week after the Triple-A season ended, and Farquhar, who spent most of the season in the minors, got the biggest outs in a crucial seventh-inning sequence.

"We had guys that we called upon that really came through right there," manager Kevin Cash said.

With a man on, Eveland struck out Monday hero Ezequiel Carrera. "When it was all said and done it was fun," he said. "I was a little nervous."

Then Farquhar extended his streak of scoreless appearances to nine, getting an out, then allowing a single and a walk to Jose Bautista. That loaded the bases for AL RBI leader Edwin Encarnacion and excited the crowd of 38,338, but Farquhar prevailed by using his changeup then getting him to swing through a 93.5 mph fastball. "It was a good test," he said. "And I got out of it."

Smyly was pulled after his lone costly mistake, allowing a two-run homer to Russell Martin on his 101st pitch. "He was outstanding," Cash said.

Overall, Cash said it was an exciting win: "That's kind of the atmosphere we've been talking about, it's a good experience for myself, for everybody that's involved."

ABOUT MONDAY NIGHT: Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki declined comment to the Times when asked what led him to aggressively interject himself into the "miscommunication" between C Russell Martin and Souza and cause the benches to empty at the end of Monday's game.

Souza, who didn't have any previous interaction with Tulowitzki, said he was over it. "We're not going to be best friends tomorrow, but I've forgiven him and am moving on," Souza said. "Heat of the moment, emotional game. He obviously assumed something was happening and just came to the rescue of Russell Martin."

CEDENO DOWN: LHP Xavier Cedeno is not officially done for the season, but that seems a strong possibility as he tried throwing the past two days and remains impacted by stiffness in his neck. Cash said Cedeno, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 29, will stay with the team and keep working out but will see a doctor at home next week. … 1B/DH Logan Morrison heads home this morning for an MRI and exam to determine if surgery is required on his left wrist.

ON SCHEDULE: The 2017 schedule will be released today, with the Rays set to open at home with the Yankees and host interleague games with the Marlins, Reds, Brewers and Joe Maddon's Cubs (Sept. 19-20).

MISCELLANY: RHP Alex Cobb starts today, hoping in his third time out since elbow surgery for continued improvement in the quality of his pitches. … Prior to Thursday's game, RHP Chris Archer and Orioles OF Adam Jones will host a group from the Boys and Girls club.

Comments
For starters, Rays at Twins, with Venters making first spring outing since 2013

For starters, Rays at Twins, with Venters making first spring outing since 2013

As the Rays head back to Fort Myers today for a game on the other side of I-75 to take on the Twins at 1:05, there are several spring debuts worth noting:First, that LHP Jonny Venters, trying to make it back to the majors for the first time since 201...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Ex-Rays prospect Andrew Toles working his way back from knee surgery for Dodgers

Ex-Rays prospect Andrew Toles working his way back from knee surgery for Dodgers

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Andrew Toles made a two-base error and went 0-for-3, and his team lost. All told, it was still a pretty good day for the Dodgers left fielder.In his first game since a serious knee injury last May, the former Rays prospect ret...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Inside the Raysí plan to prove the tanking truthers wrong

Inside the Raysí plan to prove the tanking truthers wrong

PORT CHARLOTTE – The Rays know tanking."We tanked in 2006 and '07, if you want to call it that," principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "We were the original tankers. Or tankees. It seems to be all the fad now."In losing 101 and 96 games in the...
Published: 02/24/18
Rays Journal: Duffy not just playing but playing well, Faria struggles, more

Rays Journal: Duffy not just playing but playing well, Faria struggles, more

FORT MYERS – Just playing on back-to-back days was significant for Rays 3B Matt Duffy.Playing well has made the start of spring training even better."Really liked the way Duffy has continued to play," manager Kevin Cash said after a 4-3 loss to...
Published: 02/24/18
That guy standing by Cash in the dugout? All part of Raysí plan

That guy standing by Cash in the dugout? All part of Raysí plan

Jonathan ErlichmanFor a moment Friday, it looked as if a young businessman, accountant or computer guy had won one of those charity auctions to spend a game in uniform in the Rays dugout.Actually, it was Rays analytics director Jonathan Erlichman, a ...
Published: 02/24/18
For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

UPDATE, 11:36: Manager Kevin Cash said the plan is to play Duffy on back to back days a couple times early in spring, believing the short bursts of activity will best help him build up after missing all of 2017. … Matt Andriese will come out of...
Published: 02/24/18
The truth about the Tampa Bay Raysí reset

The truth about the Tampa Bay Raysí reset

The Tampa Bay Rays are not going to be very good this year.We already knew that.They have gutted a team that won 80 games last season. Among those sent packing: Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi and team MVP Steven Souza Jr.Yeah, this thi...
Published: 02/24/18
Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays Saturday scheduleAt Red Sox1:05, JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort MyersPitchers: Rays – RH Jake Faria, RH Matt Andriese, RH Dustin McGowan, LH Ryan Yarbrough, RF Chaz Roe, LH Jose Alvarado, RH Evan Scribner, RH Jose Mujica; Red...
Published: 02/24/18
Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – Two things that tell you a lot about Rays cocksure top prospect Brent Honeywell given Friday's crushing news that he indeed tore a ligament in his prized right arm and is headed for Tommy John surgery that will sideline him wel...
Published: 02/23/18
Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

SARASOTA — Colby Rasmus is making a new start with the Baltimore Orioles after taking an eight-month break from baseball.Rasmus signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles this week, after abruptly leaving the Rays in midseason. The contrac...
Published: 02/23/18