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Tampa Bay Rays news and notes: Casey Kotchman qualifies for batting leaders, Joel Peralta watches souvenir nearly vanish

Rays vs. Yankees

When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

Starting pitchers

Rays

RH James Shields (8-8, 2.60)

Yankees

LH CC Sabathia (14-4, 2.64)

Watch for ...

Bounce back: Shields has lost four straight starts, including allowing six runs in six innings last time out against Boston. But he had a great game against the Yankees, giving up one run in a complete game July 10. He is 3-10 with a 4.47 ERA in 17 career starts against the Yankees.

Ace in the hole: Sabathia has been on a spectacular run, having won seven consecutive starts, including a complete-game shutout against the Rays on July 10. He's 9-5 with a 3.05 in 21 career starts against Tampa Bay.

Key matchups

Rays vs. Sabathia

Casey Kotchman 3-for-15

E. Longoria 6-for-22, 2 HR

B.J. Upton 11-for-33, 2 HR

Yankees vs. Shields

Mark Teixeira 6-for-37

Jorge Posada 10-for-31, HR

Derek Jeter 18-for-58, HR

On deck

Friday: at Royals, 8:10, Sun Sports. Rays — Wade Davis (7-6, 4.25); Royals — Luke Hochevar (5-8, 5.23)

Saturday: at Royals, 7:10, Sun Sports. Rays — Jeff Niemann (4-4, 3.94); Royals — Jeff Francis (3-11, 4.62)

Sunday: at Royals, 2:10, Sun Sports. Rays — Alex Cobb (2-0, 3.09); Royals — Felipe Paulino (1-3, 3.60).

Joe Smith, Times staff writer

Good thought of the day

RHP Joel Peralta was watching from the mound as OF Justin Ruggiano caught the final out Tuesday, then nearly tossed the ball to a fan before he realized Peralta may have wanted it as a souvenir of his third big-league save and first when he worked just the ninth. "I told him, 'If you threw it in the stands, you have to go get it,' " Peralta said.

Accomplishment of the day

With four plate appearances Wednesday, 1B Casey Kotchman finally has enough to be listed among the batting leaders. With a .337 average after a 3-for-4 night, he ranks second in the AL (behind Boston's Adrian Gonzalez) and third in the majors. (A hitter needs 3.1 plate appearances per team game to qualify.)

Quote of the day

"With the guys that were rumored to come to us over the last couple years, we would have had an All-Star team."

RHP James Shields, on discounting trade rumors

Tampa Bay Rays news and notes: Casey Kotchman qualifies for batting leaders, Joel Peralta watches souvenir nearly vanish 07/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 21, 2011 1:10am]
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