Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer

Matt Baker

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Phone: (727) 420-9087

Email: mbaker@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

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  1. Rays: Matt Joyce tries to get David Price's secrets

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Tigers

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $14-$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 (8-9, 3.89)

    TIGERS: RH Rick Porcello (13-7, 3.11)...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) reacts to his 11th strikeout to get out of the top of the fifth inning during the Cleveland Indians against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Friday, May 9, 2014.
  2. Three injured Rays are making progress

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are getting closer to a healthy roster.

    OF Wil Myers (wrist) continued his rehab assignment Tuesday night at Triple-A Durham. He started in leftfield and finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk, but the reigning AL rookie of the year hasn't reported any lingering issues to the Rays.

    "Wil's getting close — real close," manager Joe Maddon said. "He can be hatched any day now."...

    Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Wil Myers, who is on a rehab assignment, sits in a dugout at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Durham N.C.  (AP Photo/The Herald-Sun, Bernard Thomas) NCDUS101
  3. Malone to enter pretrial intervention on cocaine charge

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Former Lightning wing Ryan Malone pleaded no contest to DUI charges and agreed to a pretrial diversion program on a drug charge in a court hearing Tuesday morning.

    By accepting the pretrial intervention, his felony charge of cocaine possession will be dismissed if he successfully completes the program's requirements — which are similar to those already outlined by the NHL....

    Ryan Malone, 34, is an unrestricted free agent after his contract was bought out.
  4. Ryan Malone pleads no contest to DUI, agrees to diversion program on drug charge

    Blog

    TAMPA – Former Lightning wing Ryan Malone pleaded no contest to DUI charges and agreed to a pretrial diversion program on a drug charge in a court hearing Tuesday morning....

  5. Rays: Chris Archer not weirded out by David Price's return

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Tigers

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $14-$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 (8-6, 3.24)

    TIGERS: RH Max Scherzer (14-4, 2.98)...

    This is a 2014 photo of Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers baseball team. This image reflects the Tigers active roster as of Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 when this image was taken at spring training in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
  6. Rays-Tigers preview

    The Heater

    . UP NEXT

    vs. Tigers

    Tonight-Thursday

    What's new: The Tigers are 8-9 since obtaining Rays ace David Price at the July 31 trading deadline. Price picked up his first win as a Tiger on Saturday night, allowing one run over eight strong innings against the Mariners. Detroit has a loaded pitching staff, but don't ignore its hitters. Miguel Cabrera's double Saturday night was his league-leading 40th of the year. Victor Martinez is hitting .365 with 15 RBIs in 17 games this month. He's third in the league with a .326 batting average this season....

  7. Brad Boxberger seizes chance with Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After years of trying, Rays right-hander Brad Boxberger has finally established himself by starring in situations like the one he faced Friday night.

    The Rays led by four in the eighth, but the Yankees had two on and one out and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter at the plate. Boxberger, as usual, was unfazed, even after giving up a single to Jeter.

    He struck out the next two batters to leave the bases loaded and secure the Rays' shutout win....

    Since the Rays recalled Brad Boxberger in May, he's solidified his spot in the bullpen with some of the best statistics in the league. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
  8. Even without Price, Rays pitching stays sharp

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's nearly impossible to argue that trading LHP David Price to Detroit improved the Rays' pitching staff.

    Nonetheless, as Price returns to Tropicana Field for today's three-game series against the Rays, his former team's statistics have improved.

    The Rays have improved their ERA every month this season, and they've gone from a 2.71 in July to a 2.49 so far in August without Price. That August ERA is the second-best in the league, behind Seattle (1.89). The Rays' 161 strikeouts this month are 11 more than the next-best Tigers in the AL....

    Former Rays ace David Price, who returns to the Trop this week with the Tigers, left behind a rotation that has managed to excel without him.
  9. Gerald McCoy even better than last year, according to Bucs LB

    Blog

    TAMPA - DT Gerald McCoy continues to draw rave reviews, with the latest coming from teammate Jonathan Casillas....

  10. Rays: Impressive pitching streak ends

    The Heater

    Today: off

    Next game: Tuesday, vs. Tigers, 7:10 p.m.

    Probable pitchers: Rays —RH Chris Archer (8-6, 3.24); Tigers — RH Max Scherzer (14-4, 2.98)

    On deck

    Wednesday: Tigers, 7:10. Rays — RH Jake Odorizzi (8-9, 3.89); Tigers — RH Rick Porcello (13-7, 3.11)

    Thursday: Tigers, 1:10. Rays — RH Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.24); Tigers — LH David Price (11-8, 3.21)...

    New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira watches his home run off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) SPD114
  11. Rays' offense continues to struggle

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Although manager Joe Maddon and starter Jeremy Hellickson both pointed to Hellickson's two-out walk in the fifth as a game-changing moment, the Rays' offense didn't give him much help Sunday.

    The Rays had only six baserunners all game and mustered one hit off the Yankees' bullpen.

    "We have to figure out … a way to score more runs on a consistent basis," Maddon said, "because the pitching's been kind of like lights out."...

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) after flying out in the ninth inning during the New York Yankees at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 17, 2014. The New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4 - 2.
  12. Rays' three-runs-or-fewer streak ends in loss to Yankees

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Through 42/3 hitless innings, Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson looked like the former rookie of the year and the veteran member of a staff on one of the best runs in club history.

    One at-bat was enough to derail his afternoon.

    Hellickson's two-out walk to Stephen Drew sparked the Yankees' three-run inning and fueled the Rays' 4-2 loss Sunday at Tropicana Field....

    Jeremy Hellickson takes a deep breath after allowing Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out RBI single in the Yankees’ three-run fifth.
  13. Florida State Seminoles start season at No. 1

    College

    Florida State will begin the 2014 season the same way it ended the last one, as No. 1 in the country.

    The defending national champion Seminoles are the nation's top team in the Associated Press preseason football poll, released Sunday. They got 57 of the 60 first-place votes from the media; No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Oklahoma split the others. Ohio State is fifth.

    It's the sixth time FSU opens a season at No. 1 and the first since 1999, when it went No. 1 wire to wire and won the national title. Only Oklahoma (10), Ohio State (seven) and USC (seven) have begun a season ranked No. 1 more than FSU....

    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06:  Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher (R) holds the Coaches' Trophy as quarterback Jameis Winston (L) #5 looks on after defeating the Auburn Tigers 34-31 in the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl on January 6, 2014 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
  14. For starters, Rays vs. Yankees and the quest for .500 (again)

    Blog

    Today's lineups:

    Yankees

    Gardner  LF

    Jeter DH

    Ellsbury CF

    Teixeira 1B

    Beltran RF

    McCann C

    Headley 3B

    Drew SS

    Prado 2B

    Kuroda RHP

    Rays

    Jennings CF

    Zobrist 2B

    Joyce LF

    Longoria 3B

    Loney 1B

    Escobar SS

    Belnome DH

    Molina C

    Kiermaier RF

    Hellickson RHP...

  15. Rays' Jake McGee has unusual lapse vs. Yankees

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon didn't have much to critique about LHP Jake McGee after one of his most reliable relievers earned his first loss since July 2013.

    "Jake had a really good night," Maddon said. "It just didn't work out."

    McGee ended a run of eight scoreless outings when Derek Jeter singled home the Yankees' go-ahead run Saturday. The three hits McGee allowed tied his season high, and his 32 pitches were the most he has thrown all season. Three of his eight career losses have come against the Yankees, including the last one (July 28, 2013)....

    Jake McGee has a streak of eight scoreless outings end.