Monday, July 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays journal: New-look bullpen shows what it can do

NEW YORK — Having to start working early with birthday boy RHP Jake Faria pulled two batters into the fifth inning wasn't part of the plan, but the Rays got to see exactly what their remade bullpen is capable of in Sunday's 5-3 win over the Yankees:

In the fifth: Replacing Faria with two on and no outs with a 4-3 lead, Sergio Romo, who gave up a two-run homer Saturday, struck out majors-leading HR man Aaron Judge and got Matt Holliday on a popup, then LHP Dan Jennings, another of the new arms, got Didi Gregorius to ground out.

In the sixth: With Jennings in a bit of a mess after a one-out walk and a throwing error by SS Adeiny Hechavarria, side-arming RHP Steve Cishek, the most recent addition, first made it worse by hitting Austin Romine to load the bases. But then he got a ground ball from sizzling Brett Gardner and a flyout from rookie Clint Frazier.

And in the seventh: Cishek mowed through the middle of the Yankees order, retiring Judge, Holliday and Gregorius in order.

"It was fun to be part of that," Cishek said.

Manager Kevin Cash was pleased not only with what the veterans did but how they did it.

"More than anything, the way they controlled themselves in big situations on the mound and made pitches when there were probably a lot of distractions," he said. "It would've been very easy given what's taken place the last three days here to fall, and they didn't."

From there the Rays turned it over to two of their old hands to complete the taxing 15-out assignment without allowing a run. Tommy Hunter zipped through the eighth on eight pitches. Then closer Alex Colome, again, made it more of an adventure, allowing a one-out single to Gardner and a walk to Frazier before getting Judge to pop up and Holliday to ground out for his 30th save.

"All the credit has to go to the bullpen," Cash said. "They came in in a lot of high-leverage, high-pressure situations and calmed situations down and continued to make big pitches."

Unhappy birthday

Faria turned 24 Sunday but showed veteran maturity in taking accountability for his poor performance, walking five and throwing only 47 of his 92 pitches for strikes and finishing with eight strikeouts and five walks.

"I think it was just a matter of not preparing enough before the game," he said. "Kind of going through the motions early in my warmups in the bullpen."

Faria said he has pitched good games after bad bullpens plenty of times and basically convinced himself that would happen again Sunday — and dealt with the consequences when it didn't: "I was like okay, I'll find it in the game, and it never happened."

As for the birthday, he had Cuban food for dinner with his mom, fiancee and some of her family Saturday night then got clothes and an Apple watch as gifts.

Medical matters

1B Logan Morrison's bruised left heel continues to feel better and, after pinch-hitting again Sunday, he is likely to return to the lineup tonight or Tuesday at the latest, Cash said. … CF Kevin Kiermaier (hip) will take another day or two off from his rehab with the Class A Stone Crabs after being sidelined Saturday with back tightness but remains on track for an Aug. 8 return. "Not too severe," Cash said. "We've got the opportunity to kind of draw his rehab out a little bit and make sure he is ready. It's nothing we wanted to push right now."

Number of the day

17 Consecutive games in which Rays pitchers have allowed home runs, matching the franchise record.

Stadium update

Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said work is being done daily on the effort to get a new stadium, but the team is waiting for Hillsborough County officials "to completely weigh in" with a site and specifics. "When they do then we'll be able to make a decision in a pretty quick time," he said. That makes it sound as if they already know what their Pinellas options are, but he said not quite. "We have sites in mind, and it's a question of what will get done around the site and how are they going to get paid for," he said. "And once municipalities are able to line those things up, not completely buttoned up but at least to a good extent, then we'll be able to make a decision." Sternberg said they were hoping to have a decision by the end of the season, but the end of the year may be more likely. He said he didn't know how the results of the St. Petersburg mayoral election between incumbent Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker would affect the process: "We've worked with both the mayoral candidates in the past and we've had good experiences with both of them at times, so that all remains to be seen."

Quote of the day

"The new guys got to see the celebration after the game that takes place. That's always good. Maybe it will excite them to win some more."

Cash, on the Rays' music-blaring, team-cheering victory tribute

Miscellany

. The Rays scored all five of their runs with two outs on hits by Trevor Plouffe, Corey Dickerson (a two-run single), Wilson Ramos and Steven Souza Jr. (an insurance run in the eighth).

. For the second straight day, Cash emptied his bench of position players, using Brad Miller, Morrison and Mallex Smith as pinch-hitters and C Jesus Sucre to replace Ramos.

. Top draft pick 1B/LHP Brendan McKay made an impressive pitching debut for short-season Class A Hudson Valley vs. Staten Island, two no-hit innings with one walk and four strikeouts on 31 pitches (21 strikes).

. Lee May, a three-time All-Star player who served as the Devil Rays first-base coach in 2001-02 under manager Hal McRae, died Saturday at age 74.

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