Make us your home page

Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer

Marc Topkin

Marc Topkin has covered baseball for the Times since 1987 — from the lengthy effort to secure a team, to the awarding of the Tampa Bay franchise in 1995, and through each of the Rays seasons starting in 1998. He has traveled throughout the United States with the team, as well as to Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan, and has covered All-Star Games and the World Series, as well as Super Bowls and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Phone: (727) 893-8801

Email: topkin@tampabay.com

Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays

  1. David Price is back in the AL East ... with Blue Jays


    The Rays are going to see more of David Price.

    So is the rest of the American League East.

    Price was traded Thursday from the the Tigers to the Blue Jays, one of the teams the Rays are competing with for a playoff spot.

    The Jays gave up several top prospects, including LHP Daniel Norris, to get Price, who is a free agent after this season. The other players going to Detroit are lefthanded pitchers Jairo Labourt and Matt Boyd....

    David Price reportedly was traded Thursday from the the Tigers to the Blue Jays.
  2. Rays say Kevin Kiermaier's dazzling catch is among his best (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier said he would have felt better about his dazzling running and leaping catch just before running into the centerfield wall had the Rays not ended up losing Wednesday.

    But the rest of his mates were plenty excited about his sixth-inning larceny of Detroit's James McCann, especially since at the time it preserved RHP Chris Archer's perfect game....

    Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier holds up the ball after he made a catch at the wall temporarily preserving Chris Archer's no-hitter during the Rays game against the Tigers at Tropicana Field Wednesday afternoon 7/29/2015.
  3. Despite Archer's bid for perfection Rays lose 2-1 to Tigers


    Rays ace Chris Archer was perfect into the seventh inning Wednesday, but a mistake by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera led to a frustrating 2-1 loss to the Tigers.
      Archer flirted with a perfect game by retiring the first 19 Tigers, but after he allowed an infield single with one out in the seventh an error by Cabrera on what should have been an inning-ending double play changed the narrative dramatically as a 1-0 Rays lead became a 2-1 deficit.
        The loss, before a camp day-boosted crowd of 28,057 at the Trop, kept the Rays from a three-game sweep of the Tigers and dropped then back under .500 at 51-52.
         Jose Iglesias was the first Tiger to reach against Archer one out into the seventh, hitting a slow bouncer to the left side and beating the throw from Cabrera. Official scorer Bill Mathews didn't hesitate in calling it a hit.
        The Rays should have been out of the inning when Yoenis Cespedes hit a grounder up the middle, but Cabrera booted it and couldn't even get the lead out. That put two runners on and though Archer retired always dangerous Victor Martinez on a fly to left, he gave up a ground ball single to J.D. Martinez that scored the tying run, and then another single to Nick Castellanos on a liner off Cabrera's glove that scored Cespedes and put the Tigers up 2-1.
      By retiring the first 19 Tigers, Archer made the longest perfect game bid in Rays franchise history. Matt Garza retired the first 18 Red Sox in an April 30, 2009 game. (Garza has also thrown the only no-hitter in Rays history, on July 26, 2010, vs. Detroit.)
      Archer, riding an especially nasty hard slider, did his part in striking out 10 of those 19, including five in row.
       But centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier lend a hand with a spectacular catch, running with his back to the field, then leaping and reaching across his body to corral James McCann's fly ball just before hitting the wall.
       Still Archer went from near perfection to a frustrating loss, allowing two unearned runs on the three hits while striking out 11 over seven innings, having thrown 101 pitches.
      Tigers starter Justin Verlander was equally impressive early on, retiring the first 14 Rays he faced, until Cabrera homered on an 0-1 pitch with two outs in the fifth. Verlander, with his girlfriend model/actor Kate Upton in the stands, worked eight innings, allowing just four hits and striking out 10 for his fur
       The Rays had a final shot to tie in the ninth when Evan Longoria was hit by a Joakim Soria pitch with two outs, but Tim Beckham struck out....

  4. Rays waste Archer gem in loss to Tigers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer's best delivery came after Wednesday's game.

    The only-human frustration of once again pitching spectacularly well with ridiculously low run support had to be only intensified by a twist that could best be described as cruel.

    Eight outs from a perfect game, and looking to both teams like he could get it, the Rays' All-Star ace instead ended up with an L in a 2-1 defeat to Detroit that was one of most damning of Tampa Bay's season....

    Rays Evan Longoria gets hit by a pitch in the 9th inning during the Rays game against the Tigers at Tropicana Field Wednesday afternoon 7/29/2015.
  5. For starters, Rays vs. Tigers, on Archer Day


    UPDATE, 11:06: Casali said the last few days have been wild and rewarding, the first time he's hit two homers in a game since high school. He also said the success if the result of a more aggressive approach he and other hitters have taken over the last couple weeks. .. Interesting note to Casali becoming the first rookie catcher in MLB history to have multiple homers in back to back games - he surpassed Kenji Johjima, who did it in back to back starts (with a game off in-between) for Seattle in 2006, and the other catcher on the team both times was Rene Rivera. ... Wilson, pride of Seminole High, started the season with the Rays then was designated for assignment on June 12....

  6. Curt Casali homers twice again as Rays pound Price, Tigers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The handwritten note was taped to Curt Casali's locker, waiting for him when he got back to the Rays clubhouse after Tuesday's game, starting with NICELY DONE. The text on his phone conveyed a similar message, Nice Job, though with a couple of angry-faced emojis tacked on.

    As thrilled as Casali was about hitting two more home runs, and about hitting them off good buddy and fellow Vanderbilt product David Price in the Rays' 10-2 win, he was even more touched that Price was willing to congratulate him for doing so....

    Rays' Curt Casali high fives with 3rd base coach Charlie Montoyo as he rounds the bases after his second home run of the night during the Rays game against the Tigers at Tropicana Field Tuesday night 7/28/2015.
  7. Rays-Tigers preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Tigers

    When/where: 12:10 today; Tropicana Field

    Radio: 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $7-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Chris Archer (9-7, 2.73)

    TIGERS: RH Justin Verlander (0-3, 6.62)...

    DETROIT, MI - JUNE 30: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers warms up prior to the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 30, 2015 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
  8. Rays trade outfielder David DeJesus to Angels

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rather than add a bat, the Rays on Tuesday traded one of their more productive offensive players — OF David DeJesus — to create flexibility in their lineup and save about $3 million.

    DeJesus, hitting .259 with five homers and 26 RBIs, was sent to the Angels for 20-year-old rookie league RHP Eduar Lopez.

    In acknowledging Lopez was a "mid-level prospect," the Rays said the bigger return was clearing more at-bats for DH John Jaso and space in the lineup for OF Desmond Jennings, who is expected back from the disabled list in mid August....

    David DeJesus is headed to Los Angeles — where his wife and son live nearby — as the Rays open at-bats for others and clear some salary.
  9. Rays trade DeJesus to Angels


    The Rays traded OF David DeJesus to the Angels for minor-league RHP Eduar Lopez.

    DeJesus said he was shocked to be traded but pleased to be going to the Angels, as his wife and son are living in the LA area. "It's a good problem,'' he said.

    Rays baseball ops president Matt Silverman said Lopez was a "mid-level prospect" and the deal was more about creating more at-bats for John Jaso and eventually Desmond Jennings, who is expected back in mid-August, and also "to save some money.''...

    The Rays traded outfielder David DeJesus to the Angels for minor-league pitcher Eduar Lopez.
  10. For starters, Rays vs. Tigers, facing David Price


    UPDATE, 5:16: Cabrera was only going to play one rehab game anyway and with rain possible again tonight the Rays decided to go ahead and activate him after an extensive Monday workout. ... Kiermaier said his left eye felt much better after a good night's sleep and he is good to go ... Cash said they weren't comfortable - yet anyway - with Beckham at 1B so decided to move Forsythe there tonight ... OF Desmond Jennings is slated to fly to Durham on Thursday and start what could be at least a 10-game rehab assignment there this weekend,...

    Jake Odorizzi, fresh off a tough with manager Kevin Cash about getting to stay in games longer, will be on the mound for the Rays.
  11. Kevin Kiermaier hurts eye .... while stretching legs


      So just how did Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier hurt his left eye?
      By stretching his legs before Monday's game.
      Kiermaier said he was using an elastic stretching band about 30 minutes before game time and went to switch feel when the mishap occurred.
      "I had a little too much slack on it when I was switching legs and the band kind of just squared me up right in the eye,''  Kiermaier said. "I don't know how.''
      Kiermaier said he expects to be back in the lineup Tuesday, though the Rays want to see how he is first before committing.
      Kiermaier said he at first thought he was fine, but realized in tryinh to track Yoenis Cespedes first-inning fly ball he was having trouble with blurred vision, and made it worse by continuing to rub it.
       Though he had an RBI bloop double in the fourth he continued to have problems and said by his sixth inning at-bat, when he struck out, "I couldn't see at all.''
     The Rays took him out at that point.
      "It's the most uncomfortable I've felt in the batters box all year,'' Kiermaier said. "I even told (Tigers C Alex) Avila, "I can't see right now.'' (I'm sure he was) like "Okay, cool, this kid can't see right now." I know I probably shouldn't have said that, but I said, you know what, this is a hang-with-'em type of at-bat.''...

  12. Cabrera activated off DL, Elmore sent down


    SS Asdrubal Cabrera was rained out of a planned rehab game in Port Charlotte Monday, but apparently showed the Rays enough in an afternoon workout that he was over his right hamstring strain, and he will be reinstated from the DL Tuesday.

    To make room, INF Jake Elmore was optioned to Triple-A Durham. Foreshadowing that move, INF Tim Beckham did pregame work at first base, giving the Rays another right-handed hitting option with several lefty starters upcoming, a role Elmore had been filling....

  13. Rays-Tigers preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Tigers

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $7-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Jake Odorizzi (5-6, 2.85)

    TIGERS: LH David Price (9-3, 2.31)...

    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 26:  David Price #14 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at O.co Coliseum on May 26, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
  14. Curt Casali homers twice as Rays beat Tigers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — That wasn't so hard, was it?

    The Rays rapped a few timely hits, including a pair of homers by rookie catcher Curt Casali. They pitched a strong game, Nathan Karns taking a shutout into the seventh and the bullpen taking it from there. They played some good defense, Evan Longoria making the best of a handful of highlight plays.

    And, they won, beating the struggling Tigers 5-2 on Monday....

    Third baseman Evan Longoria throws out Ian Kinsler after diving to knock down his grounder in the fourth inning.
  15. Rays starter Odorizzi expects longer leash from Kevin Cash (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi said a long talk with manager Kevin Cash left him feeling better about getting to stay in games longer.

    Odorizzi was unhappy about being lifted from his last start on Wednesday in Philadelphia for a pinch-hitter after five innings (83 pitches) with a 3-2 lead, and he said so afterward.

    The Rays have employed that plan a number of times, though usually with the lesser established starters than Odorizzi and ace RHP Chris Archer. The premise is to keep the starters from facing hitters for a third time, though the explanation is usually that the relievers provide better matchups....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throwing in the second inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 11, 2015.