Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Torres dazzles in relief

DETROIT — LHP Alex Torres said it had been a long time since he had been in a bases-loaded, no-out situation.

But Torres had never experienced one quite like Tuesday's.

With the Rays trailing 6-1 in the third inning, Torres relieved struggling LHP Matt Moore with the bases full and the heart of the Tigers order — RF Torii Hunter, 3B Miguel Cabrera and 1B Prince Fielder — looming.

Torres calmly escaped the jam, getting Hunter to ground into a fielder's choice before striking out Cabrera and Fielder in another spectacular relief appearance.

"Tough situation right there," said Torres, who retired all six batters he faced. "Big three outs. Just, thank you, God."

Torres had pitched four scoreless innings in each of his past two appearances, including Saturday in Cleveland.

Manager Joe Maddon was impressed with how calm Torres was, with no nerves. After falling behind Cabrera 3-and-0, Torres threw three straight strikes, getting him swinging on a 93 mph fastball.

Torres, having improved his command and confidence while starting in winter ball in Venezuela, is pitching like he belongs in the majors, though the Rays may need to make a move today to augment their bullpen.

"He likes it here, and I'm really impressed," Maddon said. "Here's a guy that went to winter ball to be able to be in this position. He deserves to be in this position."

NO WORRIES: RHP Alex Cobb said a session of catch with Moore on Monday's off day gave him confidence heading into tonight's start that he can throw all his offspeed pitches without pain, having tested it completely for the first time since suffering a cut on his right middle finger May 26.

"I should be good to go," he said. "It'll be like a normal game (tonight)."

Cobb said though he got "the itch" the past week, he believed the decision to push his start back five days was a "smart move" and "much needed," as he wouldn't have been effective Friday without the extra time.

The main concern is that Cobb has had trouble settling in early when he has had long layoffs, sometimes taking 3-4 innings to right himself.

"In the past, I've felt a little bit uncomfortable," Cobb said. "The plate feels far away, mechanics felt a little out of rhythm. Hopefully the experience in the past will help me (tonight)."

RIGHT STUFF: As promised, RF Matt Joyce did some early defensive work before Tuesday's game, fielding fly balls from coach George Hendrick.

Joyce said he plans to do it "a lot more," maybe once or twice a week, until he gets more "comfortable" after having developed some bad habits that have led to bad routes on some balls he had a chance to catch recently.

"Balls generally hit over my head or in the gap, I tend to take a route more direct toward it, which puts yourself in bad situations," Joyce said. "So, generally, in the outfield you want to take a deeper route to the ball and keep it on the side, you don't really want to go right under the ball because you get tangled up, and that's what's been happening."

MISCELLANY: There was a scoring change from Friday's game, with the Indians' Mark Reynolds credited with a fifth-inning infield single off RHP Jamey Wright, so no error on 3B Evan Longoria and two earned runs charged to Wright. … The Rays signed C Jesus Flores to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Durham. Flores, 28, who has played parts of five big-league seasons, all with the Nationals, provides depth with the injury to C Chris Gimenez. … Todd Kalas replaced Brian Anderson in the TV booth during this series in Detroit while Anderson gets one of his breaks, and Neil Solondz will join Andy Freed in the radio booth for the final two games as Dave Wills attends his daughter's high school graduation. Kelly Nash steps in for Kalas.

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