NEW YORK — Drew Rasmussen lived the pressure Sunday of trying to complete a perfect game, losing it when he gave up a double to the Orioles’ Jorge Mateo on the first pitch of the ninth inning.
Seated in the Tropicana Field stands, Rasmussen’s wife, Stevie, eight months pregnant, may have had it tougher.
“Oh, gosh, she told me I was going to send her into labor,” Rasmussen said. “I think she was more nervous than I was.”
There was another complicating factor, as Stevie was trying to adhere to the baseball superstition of not moving in those situations. “She said she had to pee for the last three innings,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen’s phone, predictably, blew up with congratulatory text messages.
“I had my high school coach, my little league coach, college coaches, everyone,” he said. “My best friends from back home, kids I grew up playing with, guys that I haven’t spoken to in years.
“It’s all love and support and all words of encouragement. So it was nice to see.”
He also was excited that ESPN college basketball guru Dick Vitale tweeted about him and said he hopes to meet him at a game sometime.
Rasmussen’s Oregon State coaches did rib him, noting he completed a nine-inning perfect game for them in 2015.
And Stevie, eventually, had a tough question for him: ‘”Hey, if you could face Mateo again, would you do anything different?”
“No, I threw the pitch I wanted to throw,” Rasmussen said. “I mean, was the execution perfect? No, not at all. It ended up middle-middle. But ... I threw it with intent and conviction, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Mateo’s double ended a streak of 11 hitless innings by Rasmussen, who allowed one runner to reach on error in his three-inning outing Aug. 7 at Detroit.
Shortstop Wander Franco (broken right hamate) is headed to Norfolk, Va., Tuesday morning to join Triple-A Durham and start his rehab assignment as soon as Tuesday night. He will join outfielder Manuel Margot (right knee patellar tendon strain) and outfielder/first baseman Harold Ramirez (right thumb fracture) in a quite prodigious Bulls lineup.
Ramirez, who went 2-for-4 Sunday in his rehab debut, is expected to be the first one to rejoin the Rays, potentially Thursday or Friday. Margot, 3-for-15 in four rehab games (two with Durham, two in the Florida Complex League) is on track to return when eligible Saturday. Franco’s target date is less firm, but potentially Sunday or shortly thereafter.
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Cash talked with Margot and Ramirez on Monday as they drove from Durham, N.C., to Norfolk on the team off-day and said they were “in good spirits” and “in good spots” with their rehabs. “Happy that they’re both playing,” he said.
Reliever Nick Anderson (elbow surgery) gave up his first runs in six rehab outings Sunday, allowing three on two home runs.
The Lowe down
Brandon Lowe was back in the lineup Monday, going 0-for-4 as the DH, after missing two games due to a sore right shoulder. Lowe said the shoulder became an issue when “something happened” last week in Milwaukee: “I couldn’t pinpoint a play or a time ... But (Wednesday), it really hurt to throw.” He received a cortisone injection Saturday and said he felt “just normal soreness” after taking swings Monday afternoon. He planned to try throwing to gauge when he can return to second base.
The Rays are 5-13 in road series openers and 9-7 when using an opener. … Yandy Diaz had two his, one more than his total from his previous nine games. ... Doug Waechter joined Dewayne Staats in the Bally Sports Sun TV booth for the three-game road series, as Brian Anderson stayed home due to what he called “a mild case” of laryngitis. “Anyone who listened to Sunday’s broadcast will get it,” Anderson texted.
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