Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Rodney blows save in first appearance

ST. PETERSBURG — The hat, tilted to the left, was the same. So was the ovation that came when RHP Fernando Rodney entered the game in the ninth.

But the result was a lot different, as Rodney had a rare blown save in the Rays' 8-7 win over the Orioles, giving up a run on a walk and a double in his first appearance of the season.

Rodney, who blew just two saves in 50 chances during last year's All-Star season, had made 32 straight scoreless appearances, including going 8-for-8 in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic.

"It's more important we got the win," Rodney said. "Every time we come in there we try to do the job the best we can. Tonight it doesn't happen. But I keep my head up."

Rodney said he thought he might have had strike three on Nolan Reimold, who led off with a walk. But he bounced back, retiring the final two hitters to strand the go-ahead run at third, and he was given the win after OF Matt Joyce's homer.

DEBUT TIME: RHP Roberto Hernandez will make his Rays debut today, and manager Joe Maddon said he's very "eager" and "curious" to see it.

Hernandez, signed to a one-year, $3.25 million deal in the offseason, earned the final rotation spot in spring training over RHP Jeff Niemann, impressing with his size and power sinker.

With Hernandez's ability to get ground balls and go deep into games, the Rays are hoping for a big impact from the 6-foot-4, 230-pound veteran.

"I can see things kind of snowballing with him, especially to the good side," pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "If things are going good and all of a sudden he's getting a lot of quick outs and he feels like he's back, I think we could have a monster."

BOUNCE BACK: LHP Jake McGee admitted it took a little longer than usual to let go of his rough Tuesday outing, when he allowed five runs and got two outs in the 7-4 loss. McGee, however, was all smiles Wednesday, ready to take the ball again.

"I think I would internalize it a lot more last year, and especially the year before," McGee said. "But this year I feel confident and comfortable and understand more how to move on from it, and every day is a new day after that."

LINING UP: Kelly Johnson made his first big-league start at first base, handling himself well on a groundball-heavy night. "I felt good," Johnson said. "I'm still waiting for the day where everything finds me, but until then it's been pretty easy."

MINOR MATTERS: RHP Chris Archer will be on the mound tonight when Triple-A Durham opens at Norfolk. The Bulls rotation has the potential to be quite impressive, as Archer is followed by RHP Alex Colome, LHP Mike Montgomery, RHP Jake Odorizzi and LHP Alex Torres. The three other full-season teams also open tonight, with RHP Matt Buschmann on the mound for Double-A Montgomery, RHP Parker Markel for advanced Class A Charlotte and RHP Jeff Ames for Class A Bowling Green.

MISCELLANY: OF Sam Fuld will speak to more than 100 students and faculty from the USF College of Nursing this morning at the Trop about living successfully with Type I diabetes. … Today is the annual Senior Prom for Senior Citizens postgame.

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

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