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. Preview: Rays-Blue Jays

    The Heater

    . UP NEXT

    vs. Blue Jays

    Tonight-Thursday

    What's new: Since losing two of three to the Rays the weekend before last, the Blue Jays have gone 3-3 vs. the Red Sox and Yankees to cap a disappointing 9-17 August that dropped them to the fringe of the playoff race. OF Jose Bautista is on a power trip, homering in five straight games, giving him 29 overall, one more than 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion. OF Melky Cabrera is second in the American League with 169 hits, but the overall offense is lacking. As usual, pitching and defense are issues. The Jays dumped OF Nolan Reimold and acquired John Mayberry Jr. from the Phillies....

  2. Matt Joyce gives Rays walkoff win over Red Sox in 10

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays haven't had a lot to celebrate this season, so they made sure to enjoy themselves after a 4-3 10-inning walkoff win over the Red Sox on Monday.

    Matt Joyce delivered the winning run with a fly ball over the outfield to score Sean Rodriguez, marking the Rays' first walkoff win since May 24, and just their fourth overall.

    Ryan Hanigan started the rally, lacing a liner down the leftfield line and sliding in headfirst to second, the safe call standing after a replay challenge by Red Sox manager John Farrell. The Sox then had Burke Badenhop intentionally walk rookie Kevin Kiermaier. After Ben Zobrist bunted the runners up, the Sox intentionally walked Wil Myers to load the bases for Joyce....

    The Tampa Bay Rays celebrate Matt Joyce's walkoff hit to give them a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.  EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  3. Rays celebrate walkoff win over Red Sox

    Blog

        The Rays haven't had a lot to celebrate this season, so they made sure to enjoy themselves after a 4-3 10-inning walk off win over the Red Sox.
        Matt Joyce delivered the winning run with a fly ball over the outfield to score Sean Rodriguez, marking the Rays first walkoff win since May 24, and just their fourth total.
          Ryan Hanigan started the rally, lacing a liner down the leftfield line and sliding in headfirst to second, the call standing after a replay challenge by Red Sox manager John Farrell. The Sox then had Burke Badenhop intentionally walk  rookie Kevin Kiermaier. After Ben Zobrist bunted the runners up, the Sox intentionally walked Wil Myers to load the bases for Joyce.
       With the win, the Rays split the four-game series with the last-place Red Sox, improving to 67-71 as they seek to stay on the fringe of the American League wild-card race and push for a seventh straight winning season.
           The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the third before the Labor Day gathering of 10,543 at Tropicana Field. Starter Drew Smyly had retired the first eight, but issued a two-out walk to No. 9 hitter Christian Vazquez and then allowed a well-struck double to left-center by rookie Mookie Betts.
        The Rays came back with three runs in their third. Ryan Hanigan got them started with a leadoff single, and Ben Zobrist rolled a ball toward third for a one-out infield single. Wil Myers drove a ball down the rightfield line for a double to score the first run. After Matt Joyce struck out, Evan Longoria came through with a clutch hit, fouling off the first 2-2 pitch then lining the next up the middle for a two-run single.
       The Red Sox got one of the runs back quickly in the fourth, when Mike Napoli, serving as the DH with David Ortiz getting a day off, knocked a 2-2 pitch over the leftfield wall.
        Smyly was not quite as sharp as he had been, but good enough to get into the sixth inning, leaving to a nice ovation with two out and on one. Brad Boxberger finished that inning and then the next.
       But the Rays gave the lead up in the eighth. Mookie Betts singled with one out off Jeff Beliveau and went to second on an slow bouncer to the mound. Steve Geltz, called up from Triple-A for his Rays debut, allowed a full-coutn single to Yeonis Cespedes, with Betts coming around to score.

        The Rays open a three-game series with the Blue Jays on Tuesday, with Jeremy Hellickson taking on knuckleballing nemesis R.A. Dickey.
    ...

  4. For starters, Rays vs. Red Sox, on Smyly's day

    Blog

    UPDATE, 12:03: Geltz said his May drug suspension was the result of an off-season mistake, having too much fun with his friends, and definitely a lesson learned. .... The Red Sox are giving Ortiz the day off facing Smyly. ... Rays are 3-9 on past Labor Days.

    Red Sox lineup:
    Betts cf
    Holt 2b
    Cespedes lf
    Napoli dh
    Craig 1b
    Nava rf
    Middlebrooks 3b
    Bogaerts ss
    Vazquez c
    De La Rosa p...

  5. Rays: Team tops majors in shutouts for, against

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Red Sox

    When/where: 1:10 today; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $21-$300, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: LH Drew Smyly (9-10, 3.31)

    RED SOX: RH Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.81)...

    FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Rubby De La Rosa #62 of the Boston Red Sox poses for a portrait during Boston Red Sox Photo Day on February 23, 2014 at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  6. Reliever Steve Geltz to join Rays from minors

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A second straight solid season in the bullpen at Triple-A Durham — albeit interrupted by a 50-game drug suspension — earned RHP Steve Geltz a promotion to the major leagues.

    Geltz is one of four players to be added to the Rays' roster today when rosters can be expanded. RHP Brandon Gomes and C Curt Casali, who were up earlier this season, are being recalled, and OF David DeJesus, out since mid June with a left hand fracture, will be activated from the disabled list....

    Steve Geltz was impressive for the Rays during spring training and has pitched well in two seasons at Triple-A Durham.
  7. Sloppy Rays shut out by struggling Buchholz, Red Sox

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As if the Rays weren't having troubles of their own trying to get to September with something still meaningful about their games, Boston's Clay Buchholz made them even more miserable Sunday.

    Winless in his past seven starts, Buchholz nonetheless dominated from start to finish, allowing only three hits to beat the Rays 3-0 and leave them with their major-league-most-matching 16th shutout of the season....

    Rays starter Alex Cobb hands the ball to manager Joe Maddon with one out in the seventh inning and a runner on second base. Cobb winds up charged with two runs and castigates himself for a bad pickoff throw that led to one.
  8. Rays lose again, 3-0 to Red Sox

    Blog

      The Rays showed little in losing 3-0 to the last place Red Sox on Sunday, held to three hits and making another key error.
       The loss dropped the Rays to 66-71, and potentially 9 1/2 games back in the race for the second American League wild-card, pending late results, with 25 to play.
       The Red Sox took advantage of more Rays sloppiness in taking the early lead.
         Xander Bogaerts singled, thru a space vacated by the shift, to open the third. Cobb's pickoff throw eluded backup first baseman Sean Rodriguez, makring the eighth straight game the Rays made an error, allowing Bogaerts to move up to third. Christian Vazquez promptly singled to right to turn th error into a run.
        The Sox added another in the fifth. Brock Holt singled with two outs and stole second as Cobb's pitch skipped past catcher Jose Molina, then scored as rookie Mookie Betts singled.
        And they expanded the lead in the eighth off Joel Peralta when Betts led off with a double as Kiermaier missed on a diving catch of his sinking linger, and David Ortiz, booed heavily throughout the series, grounded a ball through the shortstop hole vacated by the shift.
          The Rays hitters, meanwhile, were shut down and shut out by Boston righthander Clay Buchholz, who came into the game Winless in his last seven starts with a 6.35 ERA, having allowed 45 hits and 21 walks in 45 1/3 innings.
         The Rays managed only three hits - a leadoff single by Kevin Kiermaier (who had another adventurous day in centerfield), then after 10 straight were retired a double by Matt Joyce in the fourth and a leadoff single by Jose Molina in the sixth.
       The teams continue the four-day holiday weekend series with a 1:10 matinee on Monday, Rays lefty Drew Smyly taking on Boston righthander Rubby De La Rosa...

  9. Rays callups: Geltz, Gomes, Casali; DeJesus to be activated

    Blog

    The Rays announced three players will be called up on Monday when rosters expand: RHP Steve Geltz, RHP Brandon Gomes, C Curt Casali. Also, OF David DeJesus will be activated off the DL.

    Geltz has two games of big-league experience with the Angels in 2012. He was acquired in March 2013 in trade for RHP Dane De La Rosa, had an impressive 2013 at Triple-A Durham, was invited to spring training with the Rays this year, was having another good season at Durham when he got suspended 50 games for a recreational drug violation, and returned to pitch well....

  10. For starters, Rays vs. Red Sox, on Alex Cobb's day

    Blog

    UPDATE, 12:37: The Rays announced the three players who will be called up Monday when rosters expand - RHP Steve Geltz, RHP Brandon Gomes and C Curt Casali. Also, OF David DeJesus will be reinstated from the DL. The Rays will have to make room on the 40-man roster to add Geltz.

    Also, Maddon had said Saturday he was looking to give Zobrist a day off and that Jennings probably needed at least one more day....

  11. Rays' Yunel Escobar says he feels fine physically, mentally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — SS Yunel Escobar said his recent stretch of rough play and errant throws is not the product of anything being wrong. Neither his arm is sore nor his feelings further bruised from last week's waiver claim.

    "I feel great, I'm 100 percent," Escobar said, with home clubhouse manager Jose Fernandez interpreting. "I just think that's just part of the game, things I can't control right now. But I'm okay, I'm not hurt or anything."...

    Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar, who has made more than twice as many errors this season (15) as last, says he feels fine physically and mentally.
  12. Rays one-hit Red Sox in easy win

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Normally, having five batters hit by pitches and one team's star player knocked out — and possibly concussed — by a player on the other team in a Rays-Red Sox game would more than fill the headlines and the highlights.

    But not this time, not with the teams mired at the bottom of the division with little to play for and most of the extracurricular action considered inadvertent....

    Evan Longoria trots past catcher David Ross to open the scoring for the Rays, coming all the way around from first base on James Loney’s double in the second inning. Tampa Bay scores three in the inning off Red Sox starter Allen Webster, eventually knocking him out two batters into the fifth inning.
  13. Rays: Maddon defines a couple of favorite words

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Red Sox

    When/where: 1:40 today; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $21-300, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Matt Moore plate and cup, kids 14 and under

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Alex Cobb (9-6, 3.06)...

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  14. Rays still have things to play for in September

    The Heater

    We know what the Rays would prefer to be playing for over the final month of the season: a fifth trip to the playoffs in seven years. But though manager Joe Maddon continues to keep the faith, that seems quite unlikely, barring anything short of their 2011 borderline miraculous comeback and with not just one but several teams ahead of them assuming the role of the choking Red Sox. • More realistically, the Rays have lesser things to play for as they play out the final 26 games:...

    The Rays appears confident that Yunel Escobar will rebound.
  15. For starters, Rays vs. Red Sox, without Escobar, Jennings

    Blog

    UPDATE, 5:19: Maddon said an MRI showed no damage to Jennings left knee beyond a bruise and he could be available even in tonight's game off the bench. .... Maddon also said it was just a planned day off for Escobar and he didn't see any reason for his recent rough stretch. Escobar said his arm feels fine and that the errrors were "just part of the game.'' He also said he was no longer bothered by last week's trade rumors. ... Maddon said OF David DeJesus will be activated from the DL on Monday and there will be three or four others added with the rosters expanding - third catcher Curt Casali and two relievers, plus possibly one other player/pitcher....