Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Joel Peralta returns from suspension, gives up big home run

ST. PETERSBURG — Joel Peralta was excited to be back in the bullpen Saturday after serving an eight-game suspension stemming from using excess pine tar in a June 19 appearance in Washington.

"It felt like a month," Peralta said.

But Peralta had a rough return, allowing a three-run homer in the eighth inning to Tigers CF Austin Jackson that broke the game open in Detroit's 6-2 win.

Manager Joe Maddon said it was the perfect spot for Peralta, the eighth inning with the Rays down 1-0. But Peralta gave up a one-out double and hit 2B Ramon Santiago, the No. 9 hitter, with two outs and two strikes before Jackson ripped an 0-and-1 fastball into the stands.

"Just bad pitch selection, and he got me," Peralta said. "I blew the chance that the team wins the game right there. It's on me."

Maddon said the "play of the game" was Peralta hitting Santiago in the back on 1-and-2.

"I try to make a pitch up and in to set him up for another pitch, and just bad luck it hit him," Peralta said.

Though Peralta said he usually is better when he pitches frequently, he denied that rust played any role.

"When my breaking pitches are working like (Saturday), that's like when I'm pitching every day," Peralta said. "So it wasn't any excuse."

STARRY night: When the All-Star teams are announced at 1 p.m. today on TBS, the Rays should have a few representatives.

LHP David Price, the AL's first 11-game winner, is likely to get selected for the third time. And Maddon made a strong argument for closer Fernando Rodney to make the first All-Star Game of his 10-year career. Rodney has 22 saves in 23 chances and entered Saturday ranked second among relievers in ERA (1.04).

"I would be really annoyed and upset if Fernando didn't get there," Maddon said. "He's been as effective and as consistent as any relief pitcher in the American League this year."

PRICE CHECK: Price, pulled from Friday's start in the eighth inning due to lower back tightness, said he felt fine and planned to do his usual throwing today in preparation for his next start. Price was confident he wouldn't miss any time. Maddon wanted to wait to see what the athletic training staff thought and how Price responded in his bullpen session.

START IT UP: RHP Kyle Farnsworth (elbow strain), activated off the 60-day disabled list Saturday, appreciated the ovation he received before his season debut.

Farnsworth looked, and felt, good, throwing a scoreless seventh inning on 17 pitches. It was the earliest Farnsworth — the team's primary closer last year — had appeared in a game with the Rays. He got through the top of the Tigers' order.

Farnsworth gave up a walk and a single but struck out two, including 1B Prince Fielder on a slider.

"Overall, it felt good," he said. "I just kept everything simple and tried to throw strikes."

Farnsworth said he threw only fastballs and sliders, and though he hit 95 mph, he was most pleased with "how my breaking stuff was working."

LESSON LEARNED: Though RHP Alex Cobb's numbers weren't good in his last start — eight runs and 13 hits over eight innings against Kansas City — he made it clear he is not upset or "down" about it.

Rather, Cobb said he was encouraged by how he adjusted after struggling early and ended up lasting eight innings, an experience he believes will help him entering today's start against the Tigers.

"When things are going good through the year, it's easy to keep your head up and compete and do good," Cobb said. "When you're facing adversity and the struggles, it's when you really find out what you're made of. And after getting down six or seven early, I was able to battle. I'll build off that."

MISCELLANY: 3B Evan Longoria (partly torn left hamstring) played catch before the game. … INF Sean Rodriguez hasn't started since Wednesday but said he is healthy. … LHP J.P. Howell pitched two scoreless innings and has retired 21 of the past 25 batters he has faced.

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