Jeff Wallace has been in the bullpen long enough to know that his name could be called at any time. Even when things seem to be going well, such as the starting pitcher working his way out of a first-inning jam as Bryan Rekar did Thursday afternoon, holding Anaheim scoreless.
When Rekar got to the dugout he told manager Hal McRae his shoulder wouldn't loosen up. McRae immediately got on the phone to the bullpen to get Wallace, one of his most effective long relievers, warmed up.
Four and two-thirds innings later, Wallace had recorded his longest outing since he pitched for the Class A Lansing Lugnuts in 1996. More importantly, he kept the Rays in the game, surrendering only a two-run double to Benji Gil in the fifth.
"He gave up a couple runs but we were in the ballgame," McRae said. "I thought he did an excellent job to give us what he gave us. We wanted him to give us a chance to win. We didn't need him to shut them down, just keep us in the ballgame."
As soon as the bullpen phone rang, Wallace knew the stint was going to be a long one. His high was three innings, which he accomplished three times this year, the last on July 4.
McRae planned to leave him in for 60 pitches. Wallace threw 75.
"I knew I was going to be in there for a while," Wallace said. "You know when the starter goes out in the first and you're the long man in the pen you're going to be out there until you show signs of fatigue. I just stayed as strong as I could for as long as I could."
Wallace used a good moving fastball to record four strikeouts and hold the Angels to five hits. He left with the Rays behind 2-0.
"I just had to reach down and give it everything I had," Wallace said. "I left everything on the mound."
TRADE WINDS: They're going to keep blowing until the July 31 trading deadline or Fred McGriff accepts a move to another team. Thursday's New York Post reported that the Yankees are the latest team to have interest in adding McGriff to their roster.
TOBY-O-METER: All the clamoring for Durham catcher Toby Hall to be promoted should end within the month. McRae said, "It's not a matter of if he's going to be called up, it's a matter of when." McRae then went on to say he expected that call to be within the next 3-4 weeks.
Hall, who was named Futures Game MVP during the All-Star break, leads the International League in hitting with a .343 average and is in the top five in home runs, RBI and hits.
WHERE'S MAC?: McArthur Church, better known as the Dancing Groundskeeper, is expected the miss the five-game homestand. He is at a family reunion in Chicago.
THANK YOU, POLICE: Saturday is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, an event that will be held in memory of Tampa police officer Lois Marrero, who was killed in the line of duty July 6. For every regularly priced ticket sold, the Rays will donate $2 to the Gold Shield foundation in Marrero's memory. The team also will provide four tickets to the game to every law enforcement officer in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota and Manatee counties.
FINALLY!: David Eckstein grounded to second in the top of the third inning, ending a streak of five consecutive singles. Eckstein has reached base 16 of 30 appearances at the Trop this season.
_ MIKE READLING
Lopez comes in on a winning streak after losing 10 in a row. His last win, a seven-hit, one-run outing against Atlanta on Sunday, was his team-high fifth of the season. Lopez (5-11, 5.35) is 2-3 lifetime against Texas with a 5.15 ERA in 18 appearances.
Davis is 4-7 with a 4.95 ERA. He will be making his 17th start of the season. In 92 innings, Davis has allowed 115 hits, striking out 58 and walking 42. He has a tendency to get wild, with three wild pitches, and has allowed opponents to hit .305.
Raymond, the Rays mascot, celebrated his fourth birthday Thursday with a Royal Rumble wrestling match in centerfield. Helped by professional promoter Jimmy Hart and pro wrestler Hail, Raymond and seven other mascots from across the nation piled into a ring and tried to pin each other.
The birthday boy, using an eye poke and one last belly bump to knock down Dinger, the Colorado Rockies mascot, took home the title.