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


Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays

  1. Rays rout Blue Jays behind Drew Smyly

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Drew Smyly had just dominated the potent Blue Jays lineup by twirling a two-hit shutout that was the first complete game of his professional career. But even after the 8-0 win, his Friday night wasn't yet done.

    Smyly was sharing congratulations with catcher Curt Casali when three of the Rays' other pitchers — Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb — circled around him at the side of the mound, ready to indoctrinate him into one of their customs; where the starting pitchers stage a group jump to celebrate a complete game....

    In his fourth start since being acquired, Drew Smyly pitches the first complete game of his three-year career.
  2. Rays manager Joe Maddon still dislikes collision rule

    The Heater

    TORONTO — C Buster Posey is a popular topic among Rays followers given the discussion over how much better the team would be had it drafted him rather than INF Tim Beckham with the top overall pick in 2008.

    Manager Joe Maddon brought Posey up in a different context Friday, saying the Giants star was the primary reason Major League Baseball changed catcher collision rules — which Maddon still strongly opposes — as a result of being on the wrong end of a violent play May 25, 2011. Posey sustained a broken left leg and torn ligaments in his left ankle, ending his season....

    San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey throws out the Kansas City Royals' Erik Kratz at first to end the second inning on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT)
  3. Rays: More history from beating David Price

    The Heater

    Rays at Blue Jays

    When/where: 1:07 today; Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 1250-AM, 97.9-FM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 2.56)

    Blue Jays: LH Mark Buehrle (11-8, 3.38)

    On Hellickson: Makes his seventh start since returning from elbow surgery. Took a no-hitter into the fifth in his last start but gave up three runs. Is 5-3, 3.08 in 12 starts against the Blue Jays....

    CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 16: Mark Buehrle # 56 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after after being removed from the game against the Chicago White Sox in the sixth inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 16, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/Getty Images) 477588117
  4. For starters, Rays at Jays, back on the road


    UPDATE, 6:01: Molina has a sore left knee, but is available if needed tonight and is expected to play tomorrow, Maddon said.

    UPDATE, 4:22: Curt Casali is behind the plate for a fourth straight game, with Maddon saying veteran Jose Molina has been "banged up.'' Wil Myers is the DH again.

    Jennings cf,
    Zobrist 2b,
    Joyce LF,
    Longoria 3b,
    Loney 1b,
    Myers DH,
    Escobar SS,
    Casali c,
    Kiermaier rf,
    Smyly p...

    Drew Smyly is starting for the Rays against Jays rookie RHP Marcus Stroman.
  5. Rays: A day for pitching benchmarks

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 7:07 tonight; Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: LH Drew Smyly (7-10, 3.66)

    Blue Jays: RH Marcus Stroman (7-4, 3.83)

    On Smyly: Making his fourth start as a Ray; hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of them. Has thrown at least seven innings in back-to-back starts. Hasn't allowed a run in three relief appearances against Toronto....

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 2:  Newley acquired pitcher Drew Smyly #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on from the dugout before the start of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on August 2, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) 477587297
  6. Rays' Alex Cobb outduels David Price, Tigers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Thursday's return to Tropicana Field could not have gone much better for David Price. He allowed only one unearned run and one hit in an eight-inning outing that was as dominant as he ever had in a Tampa Bay uniform.

    "Probably as good as I've pitched," Price said.

    But it could not have gone any better for the Rays, who got just as dazzling a performance from Alex Cobb and two relievers, and hung on for a 1-0 victory that meant more to them than any bragging rights over their former ace....

    David Price pitches a complete-game one-hitter, but an infield error and one bad pitch give the Rays the only run they need.
  7. Wil Myers feels confident in return to Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Wil Myers rejoined the Rays on Wednesday, the broken right wrist that sidelined him for 21/2 months healed, his sore left wrist rested and, perhaps biggest of all, his confidence restored.

    "The most important thing going forward for me," Myers said.

    In the 53 games before breaking the wrist May 30, Myers wasn't very good, hitting .227 with five homers, 25 RBIs and a .667 on-base plus slugging percentage, all well below his rookie-of-the-year showing the season before....

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (9) strikes out swinging in the bottom of the ninth inning, leaving designated hitter Logan Forsythe (10) on, to end the Oakland Athletics against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The A's beat the Rays 3-2
  8. Rays: Comparing David Price, Drew Smyly

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Tigers

    When/where: 1:10 today; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $16-$200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.19)

    TIGERS: LH David Price (12-8, 3.10)...

    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)
  9. David Price not terribly eager to face Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As much as David Price enjoyed coming back to Tropicana Field to see his former teammates and good buddies, he isn't really excited about pitching against the Rays today.

    "I'm not looking forward to it," he said. "Pitching against friends is always the worst."

    As it turns out, the Rays aren't too keen on facing him, either, three weeks to the day since Price's trade to Detroit....

    Detroit Tigers' David Price smiles during a news conference before a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Price was traded from the Rays to the Tigers on July 31. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) SPD103
  10. Rays shut out by Tigers in fourth straight loss

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays need something to halt their latest skid that threatens to end any hopes of making September meaningful, much less making the playoffs. So maybe facing former ace David Price today somehow will turn out to be a good thing.

    They can't do much worse, getting three-hit by Rick Porcello in a 6-0 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday night that was their fourth straight defeat, dropping them eight games back in the race — if you can still call it that — for the second American League wild card....

    First baseman James Loney’s dive comes up short of Victor Martinez’s shot down the line in the first inning that gets into the rightfield corner and scores lumbering slugger Miguel Cabrera all the way from first base for a 1-0 Tigers lead.
  11. For starters, Rays vs. Tigers, seeking to snap a skid


    UPDATE, 5:17: Ben Zobrist said he wondered at the time if there was something to Max Scherzer hitting him with a pitch in the first inning on Tuesday but after see Scherzer have control issues decided there was not; Maddon said pretty much the same. ... RHP Chris Archer said he was done in by the five walks as much as anything last night in letting a 4-0 lead get away, and he was more concerned about the one run he allowed in the sixth after getting the first two Tigers out than the three that scored in the fifth after 1B James Loney's error.

    Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays.
  12. Rays activate Myers, send down Belnome


    The Rays activated OF Wil Myers from the disabled list today and sent INF Vince Belnome back to Triple-A.

    Myers has been out since May 30 with a broken right wrist. He has been on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham where in seven games he hit .250 (6-for-24) with two homers, six RBIs, seven walks and three steals.

    Belnome got his first major-league and RBI on Tuesday.

    To make room on the 40-man roster for Myers (who had been on the 60-day DL), Jerry Sands was moved from the 15- to the 60-day DL. Sands is out for the season after surgery....

    The Rays activated outfielder Wil Myers from the disabled list today.
  13. Archer, Rays blow 4-0 lead, lose to Tigers in 11

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A bad play by rookie rightfielder Kevin Kiermaier and a whole bunch of bad pitches by Grant Balfour doomed the Rays on Tuesday, as they lost another game they couldn't afford to, 8-6 to the Tigers in 11 innings.

    The go-ahead run scored on a bases-loaded walk by Balfour, his third of an inning that started with Kiermaier diving for and missing an Ian Kinsler line drive that ended up a triple, and, before it ended, saw the the Rays rally and even get the winning run to the plate....

    Chris Archer bows his head in the dugout after giving up an early 4-0 and coming out of the game in the sixth inning.
  14. Former Ray David Price still feels at home at Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — When David Price strolled into Tropicana Field shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday, he went right into the Rays clubhouse. Not by rote, not by accident, not surreptitiously.

    "I went through the front door," he said. "I went on purpose."

    Price has been a member of the Detroit Tigers team for 21 days now, but he'd been a Ray for the first seven years of his professional life, so there were people, dear friends actually, to see, to talk with, to hug, even to play a quick game of video hockey with. (He claimed he was rusty then beat Jake Odorizzi.)...

    David Price tips his cap to the crowd at his former home after watching a video tribute in the second inning.
  15. Video: David Price returns to Trop


    Former Rays ace David Price returned to the Trop Tuesday for the first time since the July 31 trade; he will pitch against the Rays on Thursday,