Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays' Ben Zobrist insists 10th-inning sac bunt was right decision

RECOMMENDED READING


MINNEAPOLIS — It isn't quite worth billing as the curious case of Benjamin Zobrist, but it was an odd decision when the Rays' No. 3 hitter opted to bunt with two on and no outs and the score tied in the 10th inning.

Though Zobrist did move Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton up to third and second base, and both eventually scored, he also took DH Evan Longoria out of the mix, and actually the game, as the Twins put Longoria on and he was pinch-run for.

Manager Joe Maddon made sure to praise Zobrist for his team-first thinking but said it was the wrong decision: "I prefer him swinging away right there."

Zobrist, however, insisted it was the right play.

"The thing is, it's a one-run game at that point," Zobrist said. "Having the confidence that I have in our lineup up and down, I knew the most important thing was getting the guy from second to third. … I felt good about it. I felt I would do the same thing again, especially with that particular pitcher (Alex Burnett) on the mound. And it ended up working out for us."

BIG GAME: James Shields ended up with another solid outing, impacted and extended a bit by the sloppy defense behind him but toughening when necessary, stranding runners at third in the sixth and seventh innings.

"Today was a grind," he said. "We showed a lot of character as a team. I think those couple of innings when they had man on third with one out and we got out of both those innings, that was a key part of the game."

FERNANDO-MANIA: Uncomfortable after LHP J.P. Howell put two on in the 10th, Maddon called for RHP Fernando Rodney. Four pitches later, Rodney had his major-league-leading 36th save, and team-record-extending 21st straight.

LONGO UPDATE: Longoria went 1-for-4 with an intentional walk as the DH, playing in his sixth consecutive game since returning from the DL.

But it sounds like he may get a rest tonight. Maddon said the three-hour-plus flight from Minneapolis to Seattle will be a factor in what has been a daily decision as they try to make sure Longoria doesn't reinjure the left hamstring that kept him out more than three months.

"The long flight, that would be my biggest concern so we will have to evaluate (today)," Maddon said. "We want him as often as we can but, again, I don't want to get greedy."

OPPOSING VIEW: The Rays left a good impression on Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: "They're hot. That team has been playing a lot better. They get Longoria back and you can see his presence makes a difference there. … It's a very tough baseball team to defend, and also trying to score runs off that pitching staff is tough, too. It's a good baseball team."

REHAB REPORT: DH Luke Scott continued his rehab assignment by going 2-for-6 while playing in both games of a doubleheader for Class A Charlotte. Scott, out since July 21 with a mild oblique strain, will be re-evaluated today and is looking to rejoin the Rays this week.

MISCELLANY: After going a team-record-tying 10 games without an error, the Rays made three on Sunday; their first three-error game since July 20. … Jennings had his third leadoff homer of the season and the fourth of his career.

Comments
Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

When the Rays acquired INF Matt Duffy from the Giants during the 2016 season, we also heard about the giant and somewhat famous cat he had, an up-to-27-pounder named Skeeter.Duffy announced over the weekend on Instagram that the family had to have Sk...
Published: 11/21/17
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE, 8:11: RHP Jose Mujica was an additional addition to the roster, beyond the six previously reported. Mujica, 21, was 14-8, 3.04 ERA in 27 starts between Class-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery.So among those left unprotected and potentially ...
Published: 11/20/17
Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Aubrey Huff isn't going to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.But at least the former Devil Rays standout has the satisfaction of making the cut to get onto the ballot, one of 19 first-timers up for election this year.Other newcomers with Rays ties are O...
Published: 11/20/17
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Published: 11/18/17
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17