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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. Odorizzi continues strong second half as Rays beat Red Sox

    The Heater

    BOSTON — Jake Odorizzi arguably was not as bad as his statistics showed in the first half of the Rays' season. And he realistically is not as good as the numbers say since the All-Star break.

    But staying somewhere in the middle can be just fine.

    Odorizzi gave the Rays another strong start Tuesday, and they parlayed that — plus a tying two-run home run by Luke Maile and a go-ahead blast by Evan Longoria — to score a tense 4-3 victory over the Red Sox....

    Rays closer Alex Colome is congratulated by catcher Luke Maile after working around two baserunners to earn a save.
  2. Rays-Red Sox Wednesday preview

    The Heater

    Today: at Red Sox

    1:35, Fenway Park, Boston

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: LH Drew Smyly (6-11, 4.80)

    RED SOX: RH Steven Wright (13-6, 3.18)

    On Smyly: Is 4-0, 2.82 over his past seven starts, working six-plus innings in each. Took a six-inning no-decision Friday at Houston. Is 3-1, 1.48 in nine games vs. Red Sox, 1-1, 1.71 at Fenway....

    Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Steven Wright delivers to the Kansas City Royals in the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) MAEA104
  3. Ex-Ray Jennings goes unclaimed, not ready to play

    Sports

    BOSTON — OF Desmond Jennings went unclaimed on waivers and became a free agent Tuesday after his release by the Rays on Saturday, and it is unclear when he will play again.

    Jennings currently is "unable to play due to his knee injury," said agent Mike Fiore of the Boras Corp. in an email. "So we shall see what the future holds."

    Jennings, 29, was on the DL with a left knee bruise at the time of his release, having been limited to 65 games due to knee and hamstring injuries. He played 28 in 2015 and missed the final 28 of the 2014 season due to left knee issues as well....

    Desmond Jennings can’t play right now because of his knee injury.
  4. Rays making contingency travel plans due to storm at home

    Blog

    The Rays are operating as if they can fly home to Tampa after the Wednesday afternoon game in Boston, but travel director Chris Westmoreland is also exploring contingencies if the looming storm makes that prohibitive.

    The Rays are considering flying into either Orlando or Fort Myers if the weather is better there and then busing back to Tampa/St. Petersburg.

    They also are looking at spending the night in Boston if necessary and then flying back when they can on Thursday, which is an off-day, in advance of hosting the Blue Jays.

    There is also a concern for the Blue Jays, who are playing in Baltimore on Wednesday night and then heading to Tampa....

    Kevin Cash and the Rays are considering flying into either Orlando or Fort Myers if the weather is better there and then busing back to Tampa/St. Petersburg.
  5. Former Rays OF Desmond Jennings clears waivers, is free agent

    Blog

    Former Rays OF Desmond Jennings has cleared waivers and is a free agent, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

    Jennings was released on Saturday, having been on the disabled list due to ongoing left knee issues and limited to 65 games.

    According to Mike Fiore of the the Boras Corp., which represents Jennings, he is "unable to play due to his knee injury.''

    Further, Fiore wrote in an email, "So we shall see what the future holds.''

    If Jennings were to sign, the Rays would be responsible for the remainder of his $3.3-million salary, minus a pro-rated share of the major-league minimum....

    Desmond Jennings was released on Saturday, having been on the disabled list due to ongoing left knee issues and limited to 65 games.
  6. For starters: Rays at Red Sox, with Odorizzi on the mound

    Blog

    UPDATE, 5:41: Cash said they wanted to get Duffy off his feet and considered a total off-day, but he wanted to be in lineup so thus DH. ... Cash said the Rays likely will call up 1-2 pitchers on Friday (they are off Thursday when rosters expand) and then others after the Triple-A Durham season ends next week. ... The Rays are expecting to be able to fly home to Tampa after the Wednesday matinee, but are making contingency plans in case weather makes that prohibitive....

    Rays right hander Jake Odorizzi has been not only the Rays' best pitcher since the All-Star break, but one of the best in the majors, going 6-0 with an AL-best 1.59 ERA in eight post All-Star break starts. And he is coming off a win over the Sox on Thursday afternoon, allowing one run in seven innings.
  7. Andriese struggles as Rays fall to Red Sox

    Sports

    BOSTON — RHP Matt Andriese thought facing the Red Sox in back-to-back starts would be a good challenge.

    That turned out to be a bad idea, as Andriese lasted only two batters into the fifth of a rough 9-4 loss Monday night.

    Andriese, winless in six starts since moving back into the rotation from the bullpen, was hit early and often, allowing a team-record-tying six doubles among a career-high 10 hits and seven earned runs. In the six starts, he is 0-4, 7.76....

    Boston’s Mookie Betts rounds the bases after hitting a homer off Matt Andriese in the second.
  8. Rays-Red Sox Tuesday preview

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Red Sox

    7:10, Fenway Park, Boston

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

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Jake Odorizzi (9-5, 3.53)

    RED SOX: LH Drew Pomeranz (10-10, 2.95)

    On Odorizzi: Is 6-0 with an AL-best 1.59 ERA in eight post All-Star break starts. Beat the Sox Thursday, allowing one run in seven innings. Is 3-3, 4.01 in 11 starts vs. Sox, though 1-3, 6.35 at Fenway....

    Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz (31) throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times via AP) FLPET102
  9. Rays' Alex Cobb to return to rotation Friday

    The Heater

    BOSTON — The first official day of what Alex Cobb is calling his "big-league reincarnation" didn't go all smoothly.

    Cobb couldn't have been more excited to board Monday's 2:30 p.m. early bus with his teammates and to walk into the Fenway Park clubhouse, however cramped, for the first time in nearly two years.

    One problem: He totally forgot his equipment was in the bag he'd lugged from Durham, where he made his final rehab start Saturday. And that was sitting in his hotel room, rather than unpacked and piled in his locker like the players who have been with the team....

    Alex Cobb, who would have been the opening day starter in 2015, is scheduled to make his first start of the season Friday at home.
  10. Cobb to make return to rotation on Friday

    Blog

    RHP Alex Cobb will make his return to the majors in Friday at the Trop against Toronto as the Rays switch to a 6-man rotation.

    Cobb last started a regular season game in September 2014, sustaining an elbow injury during spring training 2015 that led to Tommy John elbow surgery.

    LHP Blake Snell will start Saturday and RHP Chris Archer on Sunday.

    Manager Kevin Cash said it was the simplest and most sensible way to handle it....

    Alex Cobb will make his return to the majors in Friday at the Trop against Toronto.
  11. For starters: Rays at Red Sox, once again

    Blog

    UPDATE, 6:03: Cash said Franklin is going to play a lot, and much of that time apparently will come in the outfield. ... The Rays will have only a three-man bench for this series, then add players when rosters expand on Friday.

    Here is the Red Sox lineup:
    Holt 2b
    Bogaerts ss
    Ortiz dh
    Betts rf
    Ramirez 1b
    Shaw 3b
    Young lf
    Leon c
    Bradley cf
    Porcello p


    UPDATE, 4:05:
    The Rays have Nick Franklin in RF tonight, with Souza on the bench....

    Matt Andriese will be on the mound for the Rays, having held the Sox to three runs over six innings on Wednesday.
  12. Kevin Cash frustrated by Rays' fundamental flaws

    The Heater

    HOUSTON

    Chris Archer avoided tying the team record of 18 losses, and the Rays avoided a rare sweep that would have dropped them back under .500 post-All-Star break with a 10-4 win Sunday over the contending Astros.

    But, even with recent improved results, there is no avoiding they are a fundamentally flawed team.

    Or, more precisely, there are flaws in how they handle the fundamentals....

    The Rays’ Luke Maile, right, is tagged out in a rundown between second and third by Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman in the fourth inning Sunday.
  13. Alex Cobb set to rejoin Rays Monday, make first start next weekend

    Blog

    RHP Alex Cobb came through Saturday's final Tommy John surgery rehab start well and was to meet the team in Boston Sunday night, with plans for his first since his September 2014 this weekend, likely Saturday, at home vs. Toronto.

    "I think he felt good by his results," manager Kevin Cash said. "It was good to go out there and kind of command the baseball the way he knows that's he able to do."...

  14. Rays-Red Sox Monday preview

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Red Sox

    7:10, Fenway Park, Boston

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

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Matt Andriese (6-5, 3.71)

    RED SOX: RH Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.23)

    On Andriese: Held Red Sox to three runs over six innings in Wednesday' no-decision. Winless in five starts since leaving bullpen, 0-3, 6.48. Is 1-0, 1.72 in four games vs. Red Sox....

    FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 28:  Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox poses for a portrait on February 28, 2016 at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  15. Archer avoids tying loss mark, Rays rout Astros (w/video)

    The Heater

    HOUSTON — RHP Chris Archer had a pretty good Sunday.

    Not only did he escape, or at least delay, the ignominy of tying Tanyon Sturtze's team record of 18 losses with a sharp seven-inning outing in a 10-4 win over the Astros and push his league-leading strikeout total past 200, he settled an apparent beef with Houston OF George Springer before it festered.

    The two had words after Springer objected to Archer's somewhat standard emotional reaction to a strikeout ending the seventh inning and his 114-pitch day, pumping his fist and bouncing off the mound....

    Corey Dickerson launches a three-run homer in the Rays’ five-run eighth inning that blows the game open against the Astros. Dickerson’s shot off reliever Tony Sipp is his first off a left-hander this season and travels an estimated 436 feet to rightfield.