Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' McGee struck on shin by Cabrera hit

DETROIT — Rays LHP Jake McGee knew it could have turned out a lot worse when Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera's hard-grounder struck him in the left leg in the seventh inning of Thursday's 5-2 loss to Detroit.

McGee had to leave the game with a bruise on his left shin, but he should be "good-to-go" if needed tonight.

"I don't see why not," he said.

McGee said the ball hit him on the left side of his shin. After it bounced toward the third-base line, he fielded the ball and made a throw to first as Cabrera reached on an infield single. But McGee felt discomfort in his push-off leg during a few warmup pitches under the watch of manager Joe Maddon and assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker, and agreed to leave the game.

"I didn't want to risk it," McGee said. "Just in case."

PITCHING IN: RHP Chris Archer enters tonight's start against Baltimore saying he only needed "fine-tuning" since his rough season debut last week against Cleveland.

Archer said he hung just a couple of the 12 changeups he threw in the four-inning outing, but both ended up as two-run homers, pitches he might have gotten away with at the Triple-A level.

"Veteran hitters, they're going to crush that," Archer said. "But someone who is not so experienced, probably won't. … If those pitches are a couple inches down, they get rolled over, get a double play and pitch into the sixth and seventh inning. So that's what I'm focused on, pitch execution."

Maddon said he'd like Archer to use his slider more, calling it an "outstanding pitch," working against both right-handed and left-handed batters. "I don't know if he knows how good his slider is," Maddon said.

Archer has faced the Orioles once, a 3⅔-inning relief appearance Sept. 13, when he pitched well but took the loss in extra innings.

"He won everybody over in that particular performance," Maddon said.

BACK IT UP: LF Kelly Johnson, tied for the team lead in homers and RBIs, did not play for the second straight game because of back stiffness, but he was scheduled to pinch-hit in the ninth. He said he doesn't believe it'll be a "lingering thing." Johnson was a late scratch Tuesday after he felt a spasm when trying to stand up in the afternoon and was told by the team to "be smart" and sit out. When Johnson felt the same after waking up Thursday, the Rays decided to give it another day.

"So for once, be smart with it, it's not going to kill anything," Johnson said. "Back, obliques, things like that, (hamstrings) are always tough because you always feel like you can play."

KEY COG: When RHP Alex Cobb was relieved by RHP Joel Peralta with two on and two outs in the eighth inning of a scoreless game Wednesday, he had no problem with it. "It's almost a guarantee go-to when you're in a tough jam late in the game, you've got to give the ball to Peralta," Cobb said.

After all, throughout Peralta's Rays career, he has faced the opposition's 3-4-5 batters more than any other spots in the order and held them to a .182 average. And on Wednesday, Peralta struck out 1B Prince Fielder, picking up the win after the Rays scored three in the ninth. Peralta's 1.98 ERA has stabilized an inconsistent bullpen.

"He's been outstanding," Maddon said. "At this point, he might be our most valuable player when you look at the whole scope of things. Of course, (Evan Longoria) and (James) Loney, and all those guys, but the fact we've struggled a bit in the bullpen and he's kind of given it some definition while all the bad things have been going on, he's a huge contributor."

MINOR MATTERS: The team purchased contract of RHP Michael Colla from Atlantic League Bridgeport and assigned him to Double-A Montgomery.

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