Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Two plays create confusion for Rays against Cubs

CHICAGO — With the series of big plays and distinctly National League-style nine pitching changes and six substitutions — plus two replay challenges — there was plenty that actually happened in the Rays' 4-3 10-inning win over the Cubs on Friday.

"When you manage a game like that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said, "you actually feel as though you played when it's over."

But there also were two key plays that weren't exactly as they seemed.

With one on and one out in the first, Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo crushed a ball to rightfield that everyone, starting with Rays pitcher Chris Archer, assumed would land on Sheffield Avenue, but the ball was knocked down by the wind and hit off the wall for a double.

"It hung up in the air for a long time," Archer said. "I kind of turned my head and went to get a new baseball, and next thing I know, the umpire is saying it's in play. So I go to back up home. It was one of the most relieving moments I've ever had. Seriously. I look up, and I thought it was gone and it's 2-0 and I've thrown eight pitches to that point."

Added Maddon: "I thought it was over everything."

That Archer limited the Cubs to one run that inning turned out to be big.

Then with the score 2-2 in the eighth, Kevin Kiermaier pinch hit with Ben Zobrist on second and one out. He thought he checked his swing on a full-count pitch. Kiermaier headed to first even though he heard plate umpire Eric Cooper yell, "Yeah" as if he swung. Kiermaier noted no one told him to leave first even when the Cubs' Rizzo said he thought he had been called out.

Turns out, Cooper did call it a strike. But the ball bounced, and between the confusion and Rizzo not covering first to receive a throw, C John Baker couldn't do anything about it. It ended up being scored a strikeout and wild pitch.

"It was so bizarre," Kiermaier said. "I still don't know what happened."

But important because after Evan Longoria made the second out, Matt Joyce singled in the go-ahead run.

WRIGLEY FAN: Maddon had never been inside Wrigley Field until Friday, and he liked pretty much everything he saw from the ivy-covered walls to the scoreboard to the light structures to the surrounding neighborhood.

"I think it is the essence of baseball," Maddon said. "You talk about Fenway and what that's all about; the way this is even more of a neighborhood kind of a setting than Fenway is uniquely cool. So my first impression is pretty impressive."

EIGHT IS ENOUGH: Maddon batted Archer eighth, the sixth time he has employed what otherwise is an unusual strategy. It has been done with an AL pitcher only two other times in the 18 seasons of interleague play. Maddon's reasons are twofold: It creates more flexibility for pinch-hitting because the pitcher's spot comes up sooner, and it doesn't disturb the circular lineup concept he likes with the No. 9 hitter as the second leadoff man.

FAN CLUB: Several players and Maddon said it was nice to see — and hear — the noticeably large contingent of Rays fans who made the trip.

"It's really incredible where it's gotten to with fans actually following us," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: OF Wil Myers was to take batting practice with Triple-A Durham again Friday and if all went well, he could start a 10-day-or-so rehab as soon as today. Though weather might be an issue. … Maddon was successful on a first-inning replay challenge on a play at second base, improving to 14-22. … Zobrist got to 25 doubles for the sixth straight season. … C Curt Casali picked up his first big-league RBI on a fielder's choice grounder. …There might be some clarity today on the status of C Chris Gimenez, whom the Rays have interest in after he was designated for assignment by Texas. … CF Desmond Jennings' homer was the 3,000th in the majors this season.

Comments
Steven Souza on Rays roster moves: ‘This is not a shocker’

Steven Souza on Rays roster moves: ‘This is not a shocker’

RF Steven Souza Jr., returned to camp today after missing four days to attend to family matters in Seattle.He did not go into detail about why left. When asked if everyone in his family is okay, he said, "Right now. We'll just leave it at that."Souza...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Who is new Rays 1B/DH C.J. Cron? 10 things to know

Who is new Rays 1B/DH C.J. Cron? 10 things to know

Acquired Saturday night from the Angels (for a player to be named – a minor-leaguer, and not a top prospect), 1B/DH C.J. Cron is expected to join the Rays today in Port Charlotte.Here are 10 things to know about him:1. Full name: Christopher Jo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is ‘The Ray Tank’ a noun, or a verb?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is ‘The Ray Tank’ a noun, or a verb?

The name of the Rays’ new blog, "The Ray Tank’’, inadvertently took on new meaning for fans following the departures of Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson this past weekend.Rick Stroud has the latest from Port Charlotte in his latest podcast, as Kevin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
As Kevin Kiermaier blasts changes, Rays see empowered Kevin Cash as stabilizer

As Kevin Kiermaier blasts changes, Rays see empowered Kevin Cash as stabilizer

PORT CHARLOTTE — The list of those no longer with the team was going to be noteworthy no matter what Monday as the holdovers, newcomers and wannabes gathered for the first full-squad workout in Camp Dis-A-Ray.Then even before Rays manager Kevin...
Published: 02/19/18
Ray Tank: Fans have fun with name of team’s new blog

Ray Tank: Fans have fun with name of team’s new blog

Rays fans upset about the team's recent moves found the perfect target for their ridicule Monday when the team announced the name of its new blog.The Ray Tank.Announcing... The Ray Tank!Our new blog will have behind-the-scenes stories, photos, and mo...
Published: 02/19/18
Rays journal: Matt Andriese not mad (but not happy either) with move to bullpen

Rays journal: Matt Andriese not mad (but not happy either) with move to bullpen

PORT CHARLOTTE — Having spent the offseason preparing for a spot in the rotation, RHP Matt Andriese said he was initially "shocked" when told Sunday that he will begin the season in the bullpen."Ultimately, I'm not happy with the decision," And...
Published: 02/19/18
The Yankees’ show of shows is off and homering

The Yankees’ show of shows is off and homering

TAMPA — Move over, Hamilton.The show of shows began Monday at Steinbrenner Field. The Boss would have loved it. Yankees shock and awe began during the first full workout. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton took batting practice. The mere sight o...
Published: 02/19/18
On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

TAMPA — Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart says he’s ready to put his checkbook where his heart is when it comes to supporting a Tampa Bay Rays move to Ybor City.So is the investment fund for the founding family of Ashley Furniture. So, it ap...
Published: 02/19/18
Live from Port Charlotte: First full squad workout

Live from Port Charlotte: First full squad workout

The Rays held their first full squad workout today, though RF Steven Souza Jr., did not work out because of a family matter. He had already reported to camp.More fallout from Saturday's Jake Odorizzi trade and DFA'ing of Corey Dickerson. This time fr...
Published: 02/19/18
Kevin Kiermaier sounds off on Rays’ weekend moves: ‘I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset’

Kevin Kiermaier sounds off on Rays’ weekend moves: ‘I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset’

Standout CF Kevin Kiermaier made very clear Monday what he thought of the Rays' weekend decisions to part ways with veteran OF/DH Corey Dickerson and RHP Jake Odorizzi:"I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the ...
Published: 02/19/18