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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

  1. No TV, so follow our live coverage of this afternoon's Rays-Indians game

    The Heater

    After narrowly avoiding no-hit history Wednesday night but still making history of a different sort, the Rays will end their 10-game homestand with today's 12:10 game against Cleveland.

    Lefthander Matt Moore will make his first start in 451 days after having Tommy John surgery in April 2014. The Rays wouldn't say yesterday what sort of pitch count Moore will have, but manager Kevin Cash said they'll be smart with the 2013 All-Star today and over his next few starts....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore (55) warming up for his season debut starting the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, July 2, 2015.
  2. For starters, Rays vs. Indians with Matt Moore's return


    UPDATE, 11:15: RF Steven Souza Jr. isn't in the lineup today, as manager Kevin Cash wanted to give him a day off. The rookie is in an 0-for-23 slump. ... Cash called the Rays' recent offensive struggles a "perfect storm" of slumping offense and standout opposing pitching. That's why the Rays haven't had a base runner through the first five innings of three consecutive games. ... 1B James Loney (broken finger) is scheduled to be reevaluated today after his rehab start last night for Class-A Port Charlotte. Cash said Loney could rejoin the Rays this weekend in New York....

    Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore.
  3. Rays break up no-hitter in ninth, lose again to Indians (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sometime during Wednesday's near-no-hit 8-1 loss to Cleveland, leftfielder Joey Butler said the Rays almost felt bullied as their offensive struggles reached a never-before-seen low.

    Cleveland right-hander Carlos Carrasco's high-90s fastball and wipeout breaking ball led to 61/3 perfect innings, before Butler drew a walk. So when Butler laced a two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to end Carrasco's no-hit bid, Butler felt a little surge for a sputtering offense trying to find any sort of spark....

    Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) on the mound in the first inning of the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, July 1, 2015.
  4. Rays-Indians preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Indians

    When/where: 12:10 today; Tropicana Field

    Radio: 620-AM

    Tickets: $12-$200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within five hours of game time.

    Promotion: Rays cheer stick

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: LH Matt Moore (season debut)


    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Matt Moore #55 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo on photo day at Charlotte Sports Park on February 27, 2015 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  5. Excitement level sky-high for returning Rays starter Matt Moore

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After 451 days of waiting, LHP Matt Moore will make his first start today since having Tommy John surgery in April 2014.

    "Being here, it feels like a long time coming," Moore said. "It also feels like just the other day we were kind of getting going and throwing off the mound …"

    Moore has spent the past 14 months rehabbing his elbow, and manager Kevin Cash said he has also been one of the loudest cheerleaders in the dugout. Although his recovery went relatively smoothly, Moore said it was difficult to watch the games without being able to contribute for more than a year....

    Matt Moore starts today for the first time in 14 months.
  6. Matt Moore's excitement level on eve of return? '10 out of 10'


    With less than 24 hours until his first major league start in 14 months, LHP Matt Moore is understandably excited about getting back on the mound for the Rays in his return from Tommy John surgery.

    "Ten out of 10," Moore said of his excitement level.

    Moore said he plans to watch a few innings of tonight's game against the Indians before heading home. Because Moore's first pitch will be at 12:10 tomorrow afternoon, Moore said he might have to go for a jog tonight to tucker himself out and fall asleep early....

    Matt Moore is understandably excited about getting back on the mound for the Rays in his return from Tommy John surgery.
  7. For starters, Rays vs. Indians


    UPDATE, 5 p.m.: 1B James Loney (broken finger) will continue his rehab assignment tonight for Class-A Port Charlotte by playing first base tonight. Manager Kevin Cash said he could return to the Rays' lineup as soon as this weekend.

    RHP Preston Guilmet and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser are both in the clubhouse after being called up from Triple-A Durham after last night's game....

    Alex Colome (3-3, 4.50) will start for the Rays in what could be his last (or second to last) start before Jake Odorizzi returns, possibly taking Colome’s spot in the rotation.
  8. Adam Erne eager for chance with Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — When LW Adam Erne watched the Lightning's run to the Stanley Cup final, the No. 33 overall pick of the 2013 draft had the same thoughts he has often had when watching Tampa Bay play: Sooner or later, that could be me on the ice.

    "I've been thinking that since the day I got drafted ..." Erne said Tuesday after the first day of the Lightning's development camp at the Ice Sports Forum. "There's still work that needs to be put in. But it's not as far away as it was last year."...

    Although he failed to make the U.S. team for the world junior championships in December, Adam Erne led the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts with 41 goals and added 45 assists. [DIRK SHADD | Times (2013)]
  9. Rays blow chance, lose to last-place Red Sox

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays left Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Red Sox with more simmering frustration after more missed opportunities.

    This time they racked up 12 hits and watched their trio of shutdown relievers cruise into the 10th inning but still came away with a fourth loss in their past five games, against a Red Sox team stuck at the bottom of the American League.

    "Fairly frustrating game," manager Kevin Cash said, "but that's the way it goes sometimes."...

    Evan Longoria gets tagged out at third base by Pablo Sandoval while trying to advance on Logan Forsythe’s grounder to shortstop in the eighth inning.
  10. Marc Krauss in Rays lineup after overnight flight

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Newly acquired 1B Marc Krauss didn't have much time to digest Thursday's trade that sent him to the Rays from the Angels organization. He got in Friday at 2 a.m. and was in the lineup 17 hours later.

    "It was a lot of excitement and kind of a little bit of craziness mixed in …" Krauss said.

    Krauss — acquired in exchange for minor-league RHP Kyle Winkler — batted .190 in his previous 130 major-league games over the past three seasons but had a .289 average in Triple-A Salt Lake City....

    First baseman Marc Krauss hauls in Xander Bogaerts’ foul ball in the first inning of his Rays debut.
  11. For starters, Rays vs. Red Sox, with Marc Krauss' Tampa Bay debut


    UPDATE, 4:51: New 1B Marc Krauss is in the lineup after arriving at about 2 a.m. Krauss heard he was being traded from the Angels' system to the Rays yesterday and took a flight from Triple-A Salt Lake City to Las Vegas before arrving in Tampa Bay about 2 a.m. 

    "Kind of out of the blue," Krauss said. "Just another day in the life of a ballpplayer, and then things just kind of change." ...

    Alex Colome (3-3, 4.50) will start tonight for the Rays.
  12. Rays-Blue Jays preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 12:10 today; Tropicana Field

    Radio: 620-AM

    Tickets: $12-$200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within five hours of game time.

    Promotion: Rays cheer sticks

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Nathan Karns (4-3, 3.53)

    JAYS: RH Marco Estrada (5-3, 3.92)...

  13. Rays' Matt Moore to get one more rehab start

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — When LHP Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery) met with team officials Tuesday, he tried to convince them that Sunday's 92-pitch rehab start in Triple-A Durham was the last one he needed before rejoining the rotation.

    "I'm ready right now," Moore said.

    But when Moore saw the look in the staff's eyes, he knew they weren't convinced. He had hoped to make his first major-league start since April 7, 2014, on Friday or Saturday. Instead, he will make his final scheduled rehab start Friday at Columbus....

    Matt Moore, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to make a final rehab start on Friday before rejoining the Rays rotation.
  14. Archer brilliant again as Rays beat Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As dominant as blossoming Rays ace Chris Archer has been, he admits that he's only human; he can't help but occasionally think about the growing buzz that he could start next month's All-Star Game.

    "I know if I take care of what I do, then I'm going to get what I'm supposed to get," Archer said.

    What he got Tuesday night was another eight strong innings, a 4-3 win over Toronto and a glowing review from the best offense in baseball....

    Asdrubal Cabrera singles in the second inning off Toronto starter R.A. Dickey and later scores the game’s first run on Brandon Guyer’s single.
  15. Bucs announce 2015 training camp dates


    The Bucs will open training camp on Aug. 1 with the first of their 11 days that will be open to the public.

    No tickets are required for fans to attend, and parking is free. Players will sign autographs for children after practice, and the Bucs will have an expanded kid zone with interactive football stations, a dunk tank and face painting.

    Here's the team's full training camp schedule for open practices at One Buc Place:...