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. Brooks Bunch gives boost to many youths

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Tyrone Keys knows he has a tough task, trying to convince a dozen kids in green football jerseys there are more important things in life than football. But the founder of All Sports Community Service knows how to get them to listen.

    The former Bucs defensive lineman tells them about Derrick Brooks.

    "This is Derrick as a seed," says Keys, showing the boys one of the old photographs lining a long hall at Blake High School. "This is some of his fruit."...

    Derrick Brooks gets a hug from Maurice Walker after the Brooks Bunch returned from a trip to South Africa in 2005. [Times files]
  2. Rays: Trade deadline; David Price numbers

    The Heater

    Today: Off

    Next game: 7:10 p.m. Friday, vs. Angels

    Probable pitchers: Rays — RH Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 1.00); Angels — RH Matt Shoemaker (8-3, 4.13)

    On deck

    Saturday: vs. Angels, 7:10. Rays — RH Chris Archer (6-6, 3.37); Angels — TBA

    Sunday: vs. Angels, 1:40. Rays — RH Jake Odorizzi (7-8, 3.80); Angels — RH Jered Weaver (11-6, 3.36)...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) in the second inning of the Boston Red Sox at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 25, 2014.
  3. Rays get little against Brewers' Yovani Gallardo

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A recent stretch against a handful of top pitchers finally caught up to the Rays on Wednesday.

    They mustered only two hits — by their first two batters of the game — through the first six innings off Milwaukee RHP Yovani Gallardo and finished with their AL-worst 13th shutout loss of the year, 5-0.

    "He was pretty much in control," Rays CF Desmond Jennings said of Gallardo....

    The Rays mustered only two hits through the first six innings off of Milwaukee righty Yovani Gallardo. [AP photo]
  4. Rays' Alex Cobb excelling since mechanical tweak

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After watching his pitches veer to the sides instead of tailing down, RHP Alex Cobb finally found his mechanical flaw.

    He corrected it before pitching seven shutout innings against St. Louis last week, and he repeated it Tuesday, allowing only three hits and one run in his eight innings against the Brewers.

    "When you're on one plane and you're in the zone, it's game over," Cobb said after his second straight double-digit strikeout performance....

    Alex Cobb strikes out 12, one shy of his career best, in eight innings.
  5. Rays: Maddon speculates on what's motivating run

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Brewers

    When/where: 12:10 today; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $11-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: LH David Price (11-7, 3.08)

    BREWERS: RH Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 3.57)...

    Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo throws to the New York Mets during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, July 25, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps) WIJP107
  6. For starters, Rays vs. Brewers

    Blog

    ...

    Alex Cobb (6-6, 3.76) will start for the Rays, against Milwaukee's Matt Garza (7-7, 3.87).
  7. Rays: Team promotes healthy eating

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Brewers

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $11-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Alex Cobb (6-6, 3.76)

    BREWERS: RH Matt Garza (7-7, 3.87)...

  8. Rays rally past Brewers for 10th win in 11 games

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays starter Jake Odorizzi never doubted he could pitch the way he did in Monday's 2-1 win over the Brewers.

    Not when he was battling during spring training to win the fifth starting job. And not when he allowed 18 runs over a rough April.

    "I knew the first month wasn't me," Odorizzi said. "I just had to get back to doing what I was doing."

    Monday night at Tropicana Field, he mixed a strong fastball with a sharp slider to dominate a Milwaukee lineup loaded with right-handed hitters. Facing the club that drafted him No. 32 overall in 2008 — and traded him two years later — Odorizzi allowed three hits and one run in seven crisp innings....

    Rays rookie right-hander Jake Odorizzi shuts down one of the NL’s best offenses to win his fourth game in July.
  9. Rays' Chris Archer says he's not angry at David Ortiz

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays right-hander Chris Archer glanced at a television Monday afternoon and disagreed with the words on the screen.

    He wasn't angry about how Boston slugger David Ortiz celebrated his home run Sunday. Archer said he was just being truthful when he was asked whether he agreed with teammate David Price's previous comments that Ortiz sometimes acts bigger than the game....

  10. For starters, Rays vs. Brewers

    Blog

    RHP Joel Peralta said he feels about 90 percent healthy. He's back from the DL today, with the Rays desginating LHP Erik Bedard for assignment to clear room for him.

    Manager Joe Maddon said Bedard is a starter, so it wasn't going to work out with him in the bullpen.

    Today's Rays lineup:

    Jennings CF

    Zobrist LF

    Joyce DH

    Longoria 3B

    Loney 1B

    Forsythe 2B...

  11. Chris Archer said he didn’t see David Ortiz’s celebration during the game. He was too busy watching the flight of Ortiz’s 25th home run of the year and hoping Kevin Kiermaier would somehow track it down.
  12. Erik Bedard designated for assignment

    Blog

    ...

  13. Rays: Bucs great Derrick Brooks on hand

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Brewers

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $11-200, 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 (6-8, 3.97)

    BREWERS: RH Kyle Lohse (11-4, 3.07)...

    Derrick Brooks throws out the first pitch before the MLB game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 27, 2014.
  14. Derrick Brooks' greatness started in Pensacola

    Bucs

    PENSACOLA

    Derrick Brooks was only a sophomore when Jimmie Nichols first realized how special Brooks could be.

    The longtime Panhandle high school football coach had seen that kind of talent, charisma and determination only once before, when Emmitt Smith began his run toward the Hall of Fame. Two years later, Nichols knew he had another once-in-a-lifetime player.

    "After being around Emmitt, you kind of get the feeling that this guy's special. There's something special here, and he's going to do special things," Nichols said. "And he did. Over and over and over and over."...

    Derrick Brooks helped lead Pensacola Washington High to the Class 5A state semifinals as a junior.
  15. Rays-Brewers preview

    The Heater

    . UP NEXT

    vs. Brewers

    Tonight-Wednesday

    What's new: The Brewers have led the NL Central every day since April 5 thanks to a solid offense. They are second in the league in runs (464) and home runs (108). C Jonathan Lucroy is sixth in the league with a .310 batting average and leads the NL with a .349 average on the road. Ryan Braun is averaging an RBI every 5.5 at-bats, tops in the league. Francisco Rodriguez has closed out 30 of his 34 save opportunities and is third in the NL in saves. Milwaukee is 9-6 in interleague games this year....