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Tampa Bay Rays take out their frustrations on Boston’s Red Sox

After spending the week getting beaten up in New York, any place else would have felt fine for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Even Boston.

The Rays, fresh off being swept by the Yankees, took their frustrations out on the Boston Red Sox Friday night in a 10-5 victory. Four different Rays hit home runs, led by Logan Morrison’s first career grand slam. Also homering were Shane Peterson, just up from the minors, Brad Miller, who hit his first homer of the season, and Steven Souza Jr. Miller had three hits.

Chris Archer, who lost 19 times a year ago, ran his record to 2-0, going 5 2/3 and giving up one earned run.

The Rays jumped on reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, getting eight hits and eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. Porcello had gone at least five innings in 43 straight games.

The first big moment of the night was the two-run homer from Peterson, who was called up to replace the injured Mallex Smith.

“It was a pretty cool moment,” said manager Kevin Cash. “I’m really smart for putting him in the lineup. (laughs). No, I’m just happy for him.”

Archer had lost 11 in a row against the Red Sox.

The Rays play Boston again today as Jake Odorizzi faces Chris Sale.

Frank Vogel to next Magic GM: “I can get along with anyone”

A difficult year is behind the Orlando Magic. For the fifth consecutive season they failed to make the playoffs.

During that span, the team had its worst five-year period ever with a record of 132-278. That cost General Manager Rob Hennigan and Assistant General Manager Scott Perry their jobs.

Orlando Coach Frank Vogel can certainly relate to being fired. Just 11 months ago, he was looking for a job after being let go by the Indiana Pacers after his team lost a tough, 7-game playoff series to Bismack Biyombo and the Toronto Raptors. Expectations are a bit higher with the Pacers.

The hopes were reasonably high in Orlando this season. They won 35 games last season and even with first-year Coach Scott Skiles’ departure, the front office thought the playoffs was a reasonable expectation. This year’s final spot in the Eastern Conference went to the 41-41 Chicago Bulls.

Hennigan brought in two high-profile players in Serge Ibaka and Biyombo to get them over the top. We now know that was an abject failure.

While Vogel should be safe for at least another year, one is never certain until the new general manager agrees or CEO Alex Martins says “give Vogel another year.”

During his final interview of the season, Vogel did not shy away from giving thumbs up on the two personnel moves. While both were in the works when Vogel arrived, he voiced support for both, while softly sharing his disappointment for what Orlando gave up.

“Everybody knows my affinity for Victor Oladipo; he was one of the reasons I took the job,” Vogel said. “(His style of play) is how I had success in the past, but even though the league was changing (to a faster pace), I thought that move would be a successful one, but it didn’t turn out that way.”

So now the search is underway for a new general manager and an assistant. The NBA Draft is only two months away, but Martins admits it could be June before a successor is named.

Perhaps the perfect candidate is currently an assistant general manager with one of 16 teams in the playoffs. If that person comes from a team that makes the NBA Finals, that hire could come literally days before the draft begins.

Whomever it turns out to be, Vogel is making a subtle case for keeping him around. In addition to sharing the support he has with team ownership, Vogel made it clear the new boss will find a head coach that wants to be partner with him.

“I’ve got a lot of trust in Alex Martins and the DeVos family,” Vogel said. “They’ve shown me an incredible amount of support and belief in me. I trust he is going to make a great choice in whoever he brings in here. I like to think of myself as easy to work with; I can get along with anyone and hopefully that’s the case with whoever they bring in.”

Bucs’ Louis Murphy apologizes for loaded gun in his luggage

The reason that Louis Murphy had a loaded gun in his luggage?

He wasn’t going to be forced off of his United flight.

The reason that Murphy had a loaded gun?

When a man asks for extra peanuts, he wants them.

The reason that Murphy had a loaded pistol?

In case he signed with a team that used the shotgun, he was working up to it.

The world is yucking it up this week over Murphy, the former receiver of the Tampa Bay Bucs who was arrested for having a loaded Glock in his backpack as he went to the airport. Murphy, 29, says he forgot it was there. According to Murphy, he was hiding the gun from his daughter (hint: a better hiding place might be advisable.) and it slipped his mind that it was there.

It happens. Former Buc Hugh Greene was once arrested for having a gun in his luggage.

“I want to apologize to all my family, friends and fans,” Murphy said in a post on Instagram. “I hid my gun from my daughter in my book bag. A week later, I left to the airport rushing, I forgot I put it in my book bag. It was an honest mistake. Again, I sincerely apologize.”

Murphy played 17 games with the Bucs and caught 41 passes before being injured. He is currently a free agent.

Rays swept by New York Yankees; fall back to .500 for season

Suddenly, they look like the Rays you remember from last season.

The Tampa Bay Rays lost their third straight game Thursday night, getting swept by the New York Yankees and falling back to .500 on the season and dropping to fourth in the AL East.

This time, the Rays lost 3-2, striking out 15 times against the Yankees. Starting pitcher Luis Severino struck out 11.

Aaron Hicks hit two home runs and drove in all three runs for the Yankees. He had a two-run homer in the seventh off Xavier Cedeno for the winning runs.

Tampa Bay threatened to tie the game in the eighth, putting runners on first and third with no one out. But Dellin Betances got both Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria to strike out looking and Brad Miller grounded out to end the threat.

“He’s one of a handful of pitchers you can totally understand his success,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash.

The Rays had trouble making contact the entire night. Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr., Brad Miller and Daniel Robertson all struck out three times.

Tampa Bay starting pitcher Matt Andriese threw well, allowing only one earned run on five hits through six innings.

The Rays now travel to Boston for tonight’s game, which features Chris Archer against Rick Porcello.

Ex-Gator Caleb Brantley listed as a victim after being struck by a woman

University of Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley is listed as the victim in a police report after an altercation with a Gainesville woman.

Brantley said the woman, Chelsea Austin, struck him in the face. Austin admitted hitting Brantley, saying he had “disrespected” her. Brantley then pushed her away.

Brantley is listed as 6-3, 307. Austin is 5-4, 110 pounds. She had a cut on her lip, but left with friends. Brantley had no visible injuries.

Brantley was second team all-SEC this year.

Magic waited far too long to fire general manager Rob Hennigan

The question is not why the Orlando Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan on Thursday.

The question was why they waited so long to do so.

Hennigan was a disaster, and his team was dysfunctional. His draft picks didn’t work out, and his free agents were worse. He didn’t get along with former coach Scott Skiles.

Meanwhile, the Magic ceased to become relevant and have no immediate hopes of becoming so. Orlando has lost at least 47 games in every season and had never made the playoffs under Hennigan.

“We appreciate Rob’s efforts to rebuild the team, but feel we have not made any discernible improvement over the last few years specifically,” team CEO Alex Martins said in a statement. “It’s time for different leadership in basketball operations. We certainly wish Rob and his family well.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported that the Magic have an interest in former player Grant Hill to work as president of basketball operations, but that it is unclear if Hill has an interest.

Under Hennigan, the Magic lacked stability. Free agents and draft picks have come and gone, as have coaches. There hasn’t been an all-star since Dwight Howard. There have been no trips to the playoffs. In pro sports, fans have to have something to believe in: the star player, the coach, the future.

Meanwhile, the team was 132-278 (.322) during his tenure.

Hennigan didn’t run out of trust Thursday.

He ran out long ago.

USF Bulls’ football crowds grew by 41 percent in 2016

For the USF Bulls, there were a lot more things worth seeing in 2016. And a lot more fans came to see them.

The Bulls were third in the nation in their increase of attendance, which jumped by 10,971 fans (41 percent) in an 11-win season that also featured a home game against FSU. Only Eastern Michigan, North Texas and Georgia State had bigger increases.

It’s easy to see why the Bulls drew so many more fans (their best draw since 2012). Quarterback Quinton Flowers led a high-octaine offense for the Bulls.

The Miami Hurricanes didn’t have that big a jump in percentages, but they had more actual fans (more than 11,000 to 58,572.

UCF’s attendance grew by 19 percent, and FSU’s by 4.9 percent.

Rays fall to Yankees; lose back-to-back games for the first time this season

The Tampa Bay Rays are suffering their first losing streak of the season.

The Rays fell to 5-4 and to third place in the AL East, losing an 8-4 decision to the New York Yankees. In back-to-back games, the Rays have given up 16 runs.

The Rays were particularly sloppy Wednesday, blowing a 3-0 lead, committing two errors and having two runners thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles. Rays’ starter Blake Snell went only 4 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on two hits. Jumbo Diaz gave up three runs out of the bullpen and took the loss.

“Certainly, we have to play cleaner games,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash.

Rickie Weeks hit a two-run homer to get the Rays off to a good start, but New York came back with two runs in the fifth, four in the sixth and two in the seventh.

The Rays conclude their series against New York tonight at Yankee Stadium.

Bucs announce latest phase of Raymond James improvements

The Tampa Bay Bucs are building off of the field, too.

The Bucs announced another phase of improvements to Raymond James Stadium, including a redesigned West Stadium Club, a new team retail store, expansion of the Hall of Fame Club, and a new home team locker room.

“These are exciting times for our organization, both on and off the field,” said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford. “The redesigned West Stadium Club will be a game-changer for our fans that are looking for the best views of the action along with the comfort of an air-conditioned lounge. The new team store will also be a great destination for our fans looking for exclusive merchandise that they won’t find anywhere else.”

Other stadium enhancements include a new 18,700-square foot Buccaneers locker room, which will triple the size of the previous one, and a refresh to the press box.

The Buccaneers won their final four home games, and six of their last eight overall, to cap a 9-7 season in 2016. They will look to carry that momentum and excitement against a 2017 home slate that includes the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and NFC South rivals Carolina and New Orleans.

Yankees’ Michael Pineda tames Rays back in their first road loss of year

This time, the Tampa Bay Rays ran into the good Michael Pineda.

In their first road game of the year, Pineda was a stop sign. He flirted with a perfect game, sitting down the Rays’ first 20 batters en route to a two-hitter in an 8-1 win by the New York Yankees. He struck out 11.

You can hardly blame the Rays if they failed to recognize Pineda as the inconsistent pitcher who lasted only eight batters against Tampa Bay earlier in the season in a 4-1 Rays’ win.

This time, the Rays’ managed only a two-out double by Evan Longoria in the seventh and a solo home run by Logan Morrison in the eighth.

For the Yankees, Aaron Judge, Chase Headley and Starlin Castro all homered in the win. The Yankees broke a 3-1 game open with a five-run eighth.

Pineda has always been hard to figure out. He was 6-12 last year with a 4.82 ERA, but he led the Yankees in strikeouts.

“He had really good fastball command,” Rays’ manager Kevin Cash said. “He could place his slider where he needed to, and he mixed in a change-up a lot more than we saw in his first meeting. We’ve always respected how he comes out and competes. He can make some really good hitters look bad.”

For the Rays, it was that way as they visited the Yankees, who won their 16th home opener in their last 20 games.

The teams are off today, then play again on Wednesday.

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