Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays get 12th win in 13 games

TORONTO — As the Rays resumed play after the All-Star break, manager Joe Maddon introduced a strategy designed to preserve reliever Joel Peralta for later in the season, and potentially postseason, by using him a bit less now.

But two days in, that plan seems quite flawed.

In both games, the replacement reliever who started the eighth inning failed to get an out, putting Peralta in an even more taxing situation.

But what hasn't changed is Peralta's remarkable ability to handle whatever the Rays need, showcased again Saturday when he worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out mess at the most critical juncture of their 4-3 win over Blue Jays.

"What I've been trying to do is make it easier for him, and I'm just making it more difficult, and what he does right there is spectacular," Maddon said. "It was Houdini-esque."

The win was the sizzling Rays' 12th in their past 13 games and 19th in 23 as they improved to 57-41 and move to within 1½ games of the first-place Red Sox in the American League East.

They struck for early runs, two delivered by rookie Wil Myers; got five innings from starter Jeremy Hellickson, who was battling light-headedness as one of a half-dozen ill players; and finished with exciting relief work on a smoking-hot, roof-open day.

"The tenacity of the group is obvious," Maddon said. "I can't say enough."

Hellickson left with a 4-2 lead that Alex Torres took to the eighth, Maddon wanting the young lefty to face right-handed sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion — and maybe Adam Lind to finish the inning — before having to turn to Peralta.

But Torres pitched too cautiously, walking Bautista and Encarnacion. And there was Peralta, 37, heading to the mound for his AL-most 51st appearance, in an even more difficult spot, with the go-ahead run at the plate.

"I think they try to give me a rest, but it's not working right now," he said. "I don't know. It's kind of backward. I'm getting in there and throwing more pitches."

Peralta at first made it more of a mess, falling behind Lind 3-and-0, then walking him on a full count.

And with the bases loaded, no outs and a game his teammates had battled to win in the balance, Peralta — equal parts ability and guile — proved once again how valuable he is.

He got Colby Rasmus on a foul pop-up. He got Maicer Izturis to look at strike three.

And then after going to a full count, and after a foul ball, with a crowd of 42,639 in full roar, he got J.P. Arencibia to swing and miss at a nasty split-finger.

"He lives on the edges, keeps you off-balance, throws anything at any time. He keeps it out of the middle," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's nails under pressure. He doesn't give you anything."

There was nervousness on the Rays' bench at the time but plenty of praise afterward for Peralta. Fernando Rodney — who had drama of his own in the ninth — took it to a new level.

"Joel is all Joel," Rodney said. "He's like Manny (Ramirez); he does all kinds of stuff to win the game."

It wasn't quite won yet. Rodney walked the No. 9 hitter with one out in the ninth, then allowed a two-out single to Bautista, bringing Encarnacion to the plate with a chance to win it.

Instead, Encarnacion hit a grounder back at the mound that Rodney saw all the way until it bounced — and Rodney played it absolutely horribly, his glove on top of the ball rather than trying to scoop it, allowing a run to score. But Rodney regrouped, retiring Lind on a flyout to end it, then mockingly tossing the glove away.

Certainly, as Maddon said, it was a team win. But it was Peralta who, not necessarily by design, played the biggest role.

And he felt pretty good about it, ranking it among his most impressive escape acts.

"Today was really big," Peralta said. "I've probably had some of those before, but as important as this game is right now, we're in second place a couple of games behind Boston, so this is on top."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

   
Comments
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

ST. PETERSBURG — In the end, Alex Colome got the three outs to save the game, the day and the stomach linings of his bosses from further deterioration, so in theory that should be what mattered most Wednesday.And the fact that he was smiling in...
Published: 04/18/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Alex Colome's ninth-inning dramatics took the focus, but the work of newly corn-rowed RHP Chaz Roe in the seventh (three Ks) and LHP Jose Alvarado (one K, two infield outs) was textbook, and showed how the bullpen can work.RELATED: Whew. Alex Colome ...
Published: 04/18/18
Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

ST. PETERSBURG — Even before they lost several of the hitters they were relying most on to injuries, the Rays did not exactly have a lineup built on intimidation.Their own owner said opening day that he expected them to rank among the least pro...
Published: 04/18/18
Rays Baldelli makes a key catch

Rays Baldelli makes a key catch

Rays coach Rocco Baldelli was all smiles Wednesday morning, happy to play a role through social media in reuniting a lost dog and its owner."I feel really good about how this worked out," Baldelli said.REUNITED! Thank you everyone for spreading the w...
Published: 04/18/18
For starters: Rays vs. Rangers, with Faria on the hill

For starters: Rays vs. Rangers, with Faria on the hill

UPDATE, 12:01: Cash said Brad Miller (groin) got through his rehab game with the Stone Crabs well last night playing first and will play second tonight, with the likely plan to be off Thursday and rejoin the Rays Friday. … With 3B Matt Duffy on...
Published: 04/18/18
Rays, Chirinos fall to Rangers, 7-2

Rays, Chirinos fall to Rangers, 7-2

ST. PETERSBURG — For three outings, rookie Yonny Chirinos had been stellar in making a case to join the Rays' starting rotation, not allowing a single run in the first 141/3 innings of his major-league career.That perfection came to an inevitab...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Rays journal: Rays play it safe, put Matt Duffy on DL with hamstring injury

Rays journal: Rays play it safe, put Matt Duffy on DL with hamstring injury

ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Duffy is back on the disabled list.The Rays third baseman, who missed all of last season with an Achilles tendon injury, was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday after leaving Monday's game in the first inning with t...
Published: 04/17/18
Rays takeaways: Just one bad outing, a rangey outfield, a sharp ex-Ray

Rays takeaways: Just one bad outing, a rangey outfield, a sharp ex-Ray

Yonny Chirinos may still be an answer as the Rays look to fill out their rotation. He probably stayed in a little too long Tuesday, trailing 2-1 entering the fifth but giving up four runs the rest of the way. Bad starts caught up to him in the first,...
Published: 04/17/18
Rays-Rangers lineup: Matt Duffy to DL, Brandon Snyder up

Rays-Rangers lineup: Matt Duffy to DL, Brandon Snyder up

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where another day brings another round of injury-related transactions for the Rays.Third baseman Matt Duffy, who left Monday's game with tightness in his right hamstring, has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, ta...
Published: 04/17/18