Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' improved power starting to show up in games (w/video)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Though there are still some glaring weaknesses, the Rays are also showing signs of the improved offense they have been talking about it.

Specifically in hitting home runs.

On Sunday, it was a two-run laser by SS Brad Miller and a solo shot by C Curt Casali, who doubled ahead of Miller, that led to the 3-1 win over the Angels.

That makes nine home runs over their past four games — all wins — and 21 in their past 12, 39 overall. More telling, they have scored 56 of their 102 runs on homers, that 54.9 percentage ranking second highest in the majors (behind the Mets).

After a brutally slow start, Miller has four homers and an average getting close to respectable at .217.

"He's been squaring the ball up for the better part of two-three weeks," manager Kevin Cash said. "We knew when we acquired him, he was a guy that could really put a charge into some baseballs, and we've seen that."

Casali is also looking better and, if nothing else, maximizes his production. Of his 13 hits, three are doubles and four are homers.

"I'm finally starting to feel a little normal at the plate," he said. "A little more consistent."

Casali was especially pleased to homer while using the pink Mother's Day Marucci bat.

"That was a pink bomb," he said. "Those hits were for mom (Sunday). She's getting that bat."

ALEX THE GREAT: RHP Alex Colome finished for his ninth save in as many changes, continuing an impressive run filling in for injured RHP Brad Boxberger. On Sunday that required retiring the Angels' top two hitters in Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

"Alex has been outstanding," Cash said. "He kind of picked up where he left off (last year), and it's pretty cool to see how a guy has evolved into that role he has provided for us."

Before turning to Colome in the ninth, and with RHP Erasmo Ramirez apparently not available after working two straight games, the Rays got two big outs from RHP Steve Geltz and one from LHP Xavier Cedeno to get through the seventh.

FACING THE KING: The Rays have seen Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez at his actual best — on the wrong end of his August 2012 perfect game — and his usually pretty good, especially in Seattle, where he is 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA against them in 10 starts and makes another tonight.

"He's right there" with the game's best, Cash said. "And Felix has done it longer than any of those guys. … You talk about guys evolving, Felix is pitching 90-91 (mph) right now, but the movement he creates on the pitches and how he locates is second to none."

LINING UP: Logan Morrison was in the lineup at DH based on what Cash said were encouragingly good at-bats Saturday and went 1-for-3, raising his average to .114 although still without an RBI. … OF Desmond Jennings was out of the lineup after a hitless Saturday extended his skid to 1-for-31. Corey Dickerson played left.

ABOUT SATURDAY NIGHT: After another solid but unrewarding start by RHP Jake Odorizzi, the Rays rallied in the ninth, with a two-run single by Logan Forsythe delivering a 4-2 win. Odorizzi allowed only two runs over six innings but ended up with only his majors-leading sixth no-decision. Odorizzi, 0-1 with a 3.10 ERA, is the first Rays starter to open a season winless in seven starts since RHP Jason Hammel went eight deep in 2008.

PITCHING IN: To make room for RHP Matt Andriese to be added to the roster to start Sunday, RHP Jhan Marinez was designated for assignment. Cash said if Marinez, who had a 2.45 ERA in three outings, is not claimed on waivers, the Rays would like to keep him in the organization.

MISCELLANY: Rays pitchers took batting practice Sunday to start prep for their May 23-24 interleague series in Miami. … Boxberger (core muscle repair surgery) will throw his second live batting practice today in Port Charlotte, but Cash said they might have him throw next in extended spring training before starting a rehab assignment.

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