Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays fall to Orioles with Miller starting in leftfield

BALTIMORE — When the Rays acquired Matt Duffy from the Giants last month and installed him as their shortstop, they shifted Brad Miller across the diamond to first base, a move he didn't take well but handled fine.

That well may still be the plan for next season, assuming Duffy recovers, as expected, from the left heel surgery that forced Miller to go back to playing some shortstop, but the Rays are exploring other options to keep Miller's potent lefty bat in the lineup.

And in Friday's tense 5-4 loss to the contending Orioles, that included starting Miller in leftfield.

"It just adds to our versatility as a team," manager Kevin Cash said. "We want to at least take this opportunity the next two weeks; he's not going to play out there every day, but when he does, it allows us to rethink maybe our roster going into 2017 and the flexibility we might have."

For now, Cash said, "I still view him as our first baseman,'' with the added, and somewhat unusual, ability to also play shortstop and the outfield.

Going into 2017, the Rays seem to be set at the four infield spots, and with Kevin Kiermaier in centerfield and Steven Souza Jr. presumably in right, that allows Corey Dickerson to be stashed safely at DH, given his increasingly obvious shortcomings on the grass.

But — if they were to be comfortable with Miller in the outfield, where he played 35 games for the Mariners last year — the Rays could at least consider picking up a first baseman in the offseason if the opportunity arose (or — in theory, anyway — giving prospects Richie Shaffer or Casey Gillaspie a chance.)

So could Miller end up the primary leftfielder?

"I personally think that would be a stretch," Cash said. "But a lot of that is kind of dictated on what we do in the offseason and what we find, whether it's through trades or free agency, what type of guys we're going to bring in for next year."

Cash has been talking with Miller about the possibility of getting in the outfield said Miller was "all for" the opportunity and "seems very eager."

Miller said "it'll be exciting to be out there" but took more of a do-what-they-say approach, borrowing an outfield glove from reliever Danny Farquhar.

"They write the lineup, and my job is to prepare and go do whatever they ask of me," Miller said.

As for the future possibilities? "You know me. I'm pretty focused on right now," he said.

Miller wasn't much of a factor during his six innings in left, botching a first-inning fly but not getting any other real action.

Elsewhere the game was exciting, as the Rays took a 4-0 lead on homers by Evan Longoria, his career-high 34th of the season, and Shaffer's first, and got a strong start from Chris Archer, but couldn't hang on.

There were several key moments as the Rays fell to 63-84.

In the seventh, Kiermaier just missed making a spectacular leaping, grand-slam-robbing catch above the centerfield wall. But even though the ball popped out of his glove as he came down, he still saved three runs.

"I'm glad I prevented a huge inning, but at the same time the competitive side of me is aggravated I didn't come up with the catch,'' Kiermaier said.

The Orioles went ahead as Brad Boxberger made a mess of the eighth, loading the bases on two walks and a hit batter, then allowing two runs on an infield single and a sac fly.

The Rays made a valiant bid in the ninth off star closer Zach Britton. Mikie Mahtook singled with two outs, then was running on the pitch when Alexei Ramirez singled to left, but throws from Michael Bourn and relay man Manny Machado nailed him at the plate for the final out. The Rays challenged the call and whether catcher Matt Wieters was blocking the plate, but replay showed it was right.

"Love the send (by third-base coach Charlie Montoyo),'' Cash said. "You have to. No-brainer right there. … It took two perfect throws, and that's what they did.''

For the Rays, these final weeks have been interesting, and with surprises.

Comments
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

The reality of Friday's surprising trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span to Seattle is, of course, between the extremes.One side is screaming this is the latest proof the Rays are driven more to pocket money than winning games (and, for the loudest, o...
Published: 05/26/18

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Published: 05/25/18
Updated: 05/26/18
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Published: 05/25/18
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Published: 05/25/18
Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

RHP Alex Cobb has already pitched twice against his former Rays mates in Baltimore and said it didn't feel that weird, especially since there were so many new faces in the lineup.But coming back to the Trop, where he made his big-league debut and spe...
Published: 05/25/18