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


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  1. For starters, Rays at Orioles, trying to salvage something

    Blog

    UPDATE, 6:01: OF Kevin Kiermaier is back in the Rays lineup after missing two games with a stiff neck and Evan Longoria is back at 3B after giving his sore right forearm a rest with two days at DH.

    Otherwise, it was a quiet pre-game for the Rays, with no on-field activities aside from some pitchers playing catch.

    Maddon said Longoria is not 100 percent but said he was good enough to play the field and they don't have any special handling planned....

    Drew Smyly will be on the mound for the Rays tonight, coming off his first professional complete game.
  2. Sloppy Rays fall to Orioles

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — After his team lost another game 4-2 Tuesday and didn't look good in doing so, manager Joe Maddon insisted there was not much difference between his fourth-place, under-.500 Rays and the American League East-leading Orioles.

    "They're so much ahead of us but you can see how close the two teams actually are in regard to ability and talent and everything else," Maddon said. "At this particular moment the teams are pretty evenly matched."...

    Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb pitches in the first inning. Cobb throws 92 pitches in four innings, striking out six and allowing two runs.
  3. MLB denies Rays' protest over Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Major League Baseball heard, deliberated, ruled on and Tuesday ultimately denied the Rays' protest of Saturday's loss in Toronto. But it sounds like they never had much of a chance.

    That's because MLB apparently ignored the actual points of the Rays' protest over what they felt was the improper use of replay by citing rules that say neither replay issues nor umpires' judgment calls are subject to protest....

    Rays manager Joe Maddon, watching Tuesday’s game against the Orioles, was disappointed that his protest of Saturday’s loss at Toronto was denied.
  4. Rays: Wil Myers, Cards' Shelby Miller team for MLB video game

    The Heater

    Rays at Orioles

    When/where: 7:05 tonight, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: LH Drew Smyly (8-10, 3.44)

    Orioles: RH Kevin Gausman (7-5, 3.81)

    On Smyly: Coming off a two-hit Friday shutout, his first pro complete game. Has allowed three or fewer runs in all four starts since coming to Rays. Is 1-0-1, 0.64 in four games vs. O's....

    This is a 2014 photo of Kevin Gausman of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. This image reflects the Orioles active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 when this image was taken at spring training in Sarasota, Fla. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
  5. Longoria has soreness in right forearm, says no DL stint necessary

    Blog

    There's a reason Evan Longoria is DH-ing for a second straight day for the Rays - he has soreness in his right forearm.

    Longoria said he has been bothered by the soreness for about five days, though it is only an issues when he throws - adding later that it "just hurt" when he threw but wasn't limiting - but not when he is hitting.

    Longoria said he will not have to go on the DL or even have an MRI and expects to be back at third base on Wednesday, confident playing through the soreness won't lead to a further injury....

  6. For starters, Rays at Orioles, after a thumping

    Blog

    UPDATE, 4:51: Orioles lineup, similar after the 5-homer showing last night:
    Markakis rf
    Pearce 1b
    Jones cf
    Cruz dh
    Young lf
    Hardy ss
    Davis 3b
    Joseph c
    Schoop 2b
    Chen p

    UPDATE, 4:14: Hanigan is back in the Rays lineup, and Longoria is the DH for a second straight day as the result of soreness in his right forearm.

    Rays lineup:...

    The Rays today activated catcher Ryan Hanigan from the DL, sending Curt Casali to the minors temporarily.
  7. Hanigan activated, Casali demoted (untii Monday)

    Blog

    C Ryan Hanigan was activated from the disabled list and Curt Casali was optioned, temporarily, to Class A Charlotte.

    Hanigan has been out since July 8 due to an oblique strain. He played in three rehab games for Charlotte.

    Casali was optioned to the Stone Crabs to expedite his return on Monday; the usual 10-day rule for a demotion to the minors is trumped by the end of a minor-league season; Charlotte is done on Sunday....

  8. MLB denies Rays protest

    Blog

    UPDATE, 6:19: Maddon had a little more to say in his pre-game briefly, primarily that he respects and accepts the ruling by MLB VP Joe Torre but doesn't agree or understand the reasoning, which including MLB saying replay issues and umpires judgement calls aren't subject to protest.

    "I could sit here all day long and tell you how much I disagree with it but also tell you at the end of the day as much respect as I have for Joe Torre, so for me it's over and done with,'' Maddon said. "From my perspective I would hope the discussion continues.'...

    Joe Maddon maintained replay was used inappropriately,  so the game - which the Rays lost 5-4 in 10 innings - should be replayed from the point of  controversy on, which was the fourth inning.
  9. Rays: Maddon relishes Springsteen's early oeuvre

    The Heater

    Rays at Orioles

    When/where: 7:05 tonight; Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Alex Cobb (9-6, 3.01)

    ORIOLES: LH Wei-Yin Chen (13-4, 3.76)

    On Cobb: Coming off stellar in win over Tigers and David Price. Is 7-0, 1.99 over past 10 starts, has allowed two or fewer runs in past eight. Is 4-1, 1.89 in six starts vs. O's....

    Caption for photo 1: This is the cover of the Bruce Springsteen album "Born to Run." Handout photo.
  10. Rays allow five homers in rout by Orioles

    Sports

    BALTIMORE — The Rays' hopes of sweeping the first-place Orioles to get back into the American League East race were quickly crushed Monday.

    Over and over and over and over and over.

    The Orioles mashed five home runs — four off obviously ineffective starter Jake Odorizzi — on their way to a 9-1 victory.

    While the Rays talked a good game about the importance of the four-game series — "Must-wins," Ben Zobrist called them — they certainly didn't play one....

    Nick Markakis begins the onslaught against Rays starter Jake Odorizzi as home plate umpire Jeff Nelson and catcher Jose Molina look on.
  11. Rays' Maddon reassures Escobar that he won't be traded

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Sensing SS Yunel Escobar was bothered by speculation about a possible waiver claim trade to Oakland, Rays manager Joe Maddon took the unusual step Monday of assuring the emotional infielder he would not be dealt by today's deadline.

    After discussing the situation with executive vice president Andrew Friedman, Maddon summoned Escobar, and bilingual bench coach Dave Martinez, to a closed door meeting in his office....

    Rays manager Joe Maddon says that “emotional” shortstop Yunel Escobar wants to remain here and was upset at the possibility of being traded.
  12. Maddon says Escobar won't be traded

    Blog

    Rays manager Joe Maddon said SS Yunel Escobar will not be traded via a recent waiver claim.

    Maddon said he could tell Escobar was bothered by the speculation after Sunday reports that he was claimed by the A's and wanted to calm his concerns so he could play with a clear mind.

    "I told him that Andrew (Friedman, the team executive VP) and I spoke about it and I was able to tell him that we're very, very pleased with what he's doing, we can see him continuing to get better with us, to not be worried about anything happening over the next day,'' Maddon said. "That's what I got from Andrew.''...

  13. For starters, Rays at Orioles, taking aim at the top team

    Blog

    UPDATE, 5:10: Orioles lineup:
    Markakis rf
    Pearce 1b
    Jones cf
    Cruz dh
    Young lf
    Hardy ss
    Davis 3b
    Hundley c
    Schoop 2b
    Tillman p

    UPDATE, 4:57: SS Yunel Escobar met this afternoon with Rays manager Joe Maddon to seek clarity on Sunday's news that he was claimed on waivers by the A's. Sounds like he was told how the system works - that claims are common this time of year and not to worry about it - and obviously he is in the lineup tonight. As reported yesterday, a deal is considered unlikely by the Tuesday 1 p.m. deadline.
    ...

    Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays tonight.
  14. Rays' Joe Maddon hopeful over outcome of protest

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Manager Joe Maddon said he came away with "an adequate amount of hope" the Rays will prevail in their protest of Saturday's game after talking for five minutes with Joe Torre, the Major League Baseball executive who will make a ruling.

    The first accomplishment in the Sunday morning conversation was Torre indicating the protest is valid, Maddon said, just the 10th valid one in the past 10 years. MLB rules forbid protests involving replay decisions. But the Rays are protesting crew chief Bob Davidson's decision in the 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Blue Jays to allow the use of replay too late, not the actual replay....

    Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon argues with umpire Bob Davidson after a call at first base was reviewed and overturned in the Toronto Blue Jays favor during fourth inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Fred Thornhill) FJT117
  15. Rays: Joe Maddon tips cap to Blue Jays fans

    The Heater

    Rays at Orioles

    When/where: 7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Jake Odorizzi (9-10, 3.83)

    ORIOLES: RH Chris Tillman (10-5, 3.55)

    On Odorizzi: Pitched well but lost for second time in past eight starts Wednesday vs. Detroit. Ranks sixth in majors with average 10.10 strikeouts per nine innings. Is 0-1, 2.84 in four games vs. Orioles....

    HOUSTON, TX - MAY 31:  Chris Tillman #30 of the Baltimore Orioles throws in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on May 31, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)