Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. preserves shutout with perfect throw

ST. PETERSBURG — The closest the Angels came to scoring off RHP Matt Andriese in Thursday's 4-0 Rays victory occurred in the first inning, when DH Mike Trout tried to score from second on a single to right. But the throw from RF Steven Souza Jr. was on the money, and Trout was out.

"That was huge," Andriese said.

Said Souza, "Anytime the ball's put in play and he's on second base, you got to make a pretty good throw to get him. I had to make my best throw and put it there, and fortunately it worked out."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia saw Souza playing a tad shallow against SS Andrelton Simmons, who hit the ball directly at him.

"To get Mike, he's got to put that throw on the money, and he did," Scioscia said.

Rasmus on a roll

After a home run Wednesday night, Colby Rasmus — appearing as the DH for the second time in his Rays career — continued to move out of the hitting slump that slowed him over the past two weeks. Rasmus drove in all four Rays runs Thursday, hitting a two-run single and a two-run double on his way to a 2-for-4 performance.

Rasmus, 3-for-20 heading into Thursday's game, started his Rays career 8-for-29 but had struggled since. He said his lower numbers in previous games were simply a product of solid pitching.

"You've just got to stay on what you're doing, it's tough," he said. "I look at those games as getting pitched pretty tough. My swings have been feeling pretty good, but they've just been making no mistakes to me. I've been around long enough and there's a good enough report on me and where not to throw the ball, so they stay away from those spots, and when they do that it makes it tough."

Hunter in, Diaz out

The bullpen reshuffling continued when the Rays activated RHP Tommy Hunter (right calf strain) from the disabled list and placed RHP Jumbo Diaz on the 10-day DL with right arm fatigue.

Diaz said he has felt this several times as a result of having four elbow operations during his career. He said right now he can't recover in time to pitch on back-to-back days. He feels confident that the strength will return with a brief rest.

"We're not overly concerned, but it just seemed with how much we're asking from our bullpen that if he pitches and can't go for two days, that's not ideal for a guy who pitches from the pen," manager Kevin Cash said. "Hopefully with some rest, we'll see him back here soon."

Hunter was ready to return after missing 30 games. The bullpen, which has struggled, can use Hunter's veteran presence and versatility.

More medical matters

RHP Brad Boxberger (right flexor strain) is scheduled to pitch live batting practice Monday and Thursday in Port Charlotte. C Wilson Ramos (knee surgery) is expected to catch with SS Matt Duffy (Achilles) and 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) scheduled to hit. … Ramos, Duffy and Miller are expected to play in extended spring games while they are in Port Charlotte.

Number of the day

7 Seasons out of the past 10 that the Rays were .500 or better 50 games into the season

Miscellany

. RF Steven Souza Jr. has reached base in six of his past seven plate appearances, including a season-high four times Thursday. He had a .542 on-base percentage on the homestand despite starting 1-for-11.

. RHP Matt Andriese's eight innings Thursday matched RHP Chris Archer for the longest this year by a Rays starter.

. The four-game series drew 40,697, with three crowds under 10,000.

Times staff writer Daniel O'Boyle contributed to this report.

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