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Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Wade Davis eases up and finds better results

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Wade Davis didn't have his best stuff Friday. But he ended up with one of his best games.

Rather than throw at maximum speed, Davis took a few miles per hour off his fastball and, working in the 88-90 mph range, pitched seven innings. He threw 100 pitches and struck out only one, but he held the Twins to one run on four hits and two walks in the 5-2 win.

"He pitched well," manager Joe Maddon said. "He made better pitches. He's much more effective with runners on base. He's quicker to the plate with a better delivery. He's making some adjustments. He's pitching right now; he's not just throwing."

Davis said the adjustments are part of an effort to get quicker outs by letting hitters put the ball in play rather than firing every fastball at 92-93 mph and racking up too many pitches.

"It was there if I needed it," Davis said. "I had pretty good movement on my ball, so I kind of stuck with that."

NINTH-INNING RELAY: The Rays needed four relievers to get the last three outs, as LHP Cesar Ramos (walk, flyout), RHP Juan Cruz (walk) and LHP Jake McGee (fielder's choice grounder) couldn't complete the job, leading to RHP Kyle Farnsworth's third save. "It's not optimal," Maddon said. "I didn't want to have to do that, but willing to do that if necessary."

SPECIAL GUEST: RHP Adam Russell was buoyed by a visit from his older sister, Tracy Galvin, who is battling Stage 4 breast cancer and has been undergoing chemotheraphy. "It's really good to see her, and I thought she looked good," Russell said. "She looked happy; she looked energized. The change of scenery and getting in some warm weather is good for her."

Tracy, her husband, Marty, and their two kids, Fiona and Tommy, made the trip from Cleveland thanks to the nonprofit group Memories of Love, getting to see a couple of games and visiting Disney World.

Their visit made a good birthday present for Russell, who turned 28 on Thursday. "Not being around her (stinks); I really want to be there for her," he said.

SPECIAL HONOR: All players and coaches wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier April 15, 1947.

The day is especially meaningful for Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer, who played with Robinson later in their careers with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1954-56). "He had to be a tough, tough man to do what he did," Zimmer said.

Also impressed is CF B.J. Upton: "He definitely was a pioneer for African-American players. We know what he went through. I don't think a lot of us today could deal with what he dealt with."

PITCHING IN: LHP J.P. Howell today throws the second of three planned batting practice sessions before going on a minor-league rehab assignment, possibly by next weekend, the last step in his recovery from shoulder surgery. "My fastball and changeup are game ready," he said. "My curveball, I've had a tough time locating it." … LHP David Price received his Players Choice Award as the 2010 AL outstanding pitcher, and a $10,000 charitable donation he had split between Miracle League and Shriners Hospital for Children.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: The Rays today are celebrating the 70th birthday of Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base. Master Sgt. Christian MacKenzie, a Navy Seal who sustained severe head and face injuries and lost his left eye when his helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq, will throw out the first pitch.

MISCELLANY: OF Sam Fuld was caught stealing twice after going 7-for-7. … With a homer Friday, C Kelly Shoppach is 8-for-15 with three homers vs. Twins RHP Nick Blackburn. … 3B Evan Longoria today will be presented his 2010 Gold Glove. … Thursday was the first time in the Rays' 2,114 games they won after trailing in the ninth inning and in extra innings.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Wade Davis eases up and finds better results 04/15/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 16, 2011 1:16am]

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