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Rays’ Jake Odorizzi dazzles against Rangers in big victory

Suddenly, it’s a Jake Odorizzi world.

Suddenly, the Tampa Bay Rays have a chance when he’s on the mound.

In seven starts since the all-star game, Odorizzi has improved his record to 5-0 with an AL-leadng ERA of 1.64. He has improved his record to 8-5.

The Rays followed Odorizzi to their fifth win in their last six games Saturday night, an 8-2 blasting of the Texas Rangers. The Rays have outscored their opponents 47-14 during those six games.

“Odo was outstanding,” Rays’ manager Kevin Cash said. “It was a tight game for a while, and Odo pitched really well to keep it right there.”

Odorizzi said he had to reach deep for his latest win.

“A little bit of everything (was working),” Odorizzi said. “I can’t really pinpoint one thing that was working, I just had to battle, feel the situation out. They did a great job of fighting off some pitches, so I was just going with whatever we felt in the moment.”

On escaping the first-and-third situation in the 3rd inning: “I was just trying to get some soft contact on the infield and get a double play there and concede the one run. But we were able to work out of it after I got the strikeout of (Ian) Desmond, I was trying to get the ball in on (Carlos) Beltran and I got the weak pop-up … and find a way out of it.”

Tim Beckham had two triples for the Rays, and Luke Maile hit his first home run. Evan Longoria hit his 28th of the year.

“I’ve been trying to do too much lately and I just wanted to see strikes, swing at balls in the zone and put the barrel on the ball,” Beckham said. “Something I bring to the club is my speed when I hit the ball in the gap. If it hits the wall, I expect to be on (third) until they stop me.”

Said Cash: “He was pretty electric tonight. It looked like he hit two balls right in the same spot, and got triples for both of them. Good at-bats. He just missed another ball that he flew out really high. So his timing is coming around, it seems like.”

The Rays try to win the series today when Drew Smyly faces Martin Perez.

 

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Adrian Beltre hits two homers as Rangers beat Tampa Bay

In the area of things that don’t surprise you, good teams give the Tampa Bay Rays, last in the AL East, fits.

Take, for instance, Friday night’s 6-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.

The Rays have an AL-worst record of 31-56. Worse news? The Rays will also play their next 35 games against teams with winning records.

Tampa Bay broke up Cole Hamels‘ no-hitter when Corey Dickerson singled with two outs in the sixth (one of two hits he had). Steven Souza broke up the shutout with a home run in the eighth.

“Pretty disappointing game to say the least,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “We got outpitched, outhit, out-defended. They didn’t make any mental mistakes; we made a handful. So a pretty disappointing effort.”

In the fifth inning, the Rays gave up a run when Ian Desmond singled. Elvis Andrus scored from first base when centerfielder Mikie Mahtook lobbed the ball back into the infield.

“Yeah, we had a few lapses and defensive miscues. … It’s not the type of team we are,” Mahtook said. “Obviously, the play in center field was all on me and one of those things where he just got me. I got to the ball and he wasn’t at third base yet, and I didn’t throw the ball in as hard as I should have, and he got me. He baited me into it and I lobbed it to Beck at second, and he took the extra base. That won’t ever happen again, and it’s something that’s not a good feeling to happen to you.”

The Rays’ Matt Andriese took his fifth straight loss for the Rays.

Adrian Beltre hit two home runs for the Rangers and went four-for-four.

The Rangers scored two in the fifth and three in the sixth to break the game open.

Tonight, Jake Odorizzi of the Rays faces A.J. Griffin of the Rangers.

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Brad Miller hits his 25th homer as Rays sweep Padres

Brad Miller seems intent on making Tropicana Field his home.

Miller launched yet another home run, his 25th of the season, Wednesday afternoon and the Rays got shutout pitching from Chris Archer to win 2-0. It was the Rays’ fourth sweep of the season.

Miller has three home runs in his last seven at-bats. Of his 25 homers, 19 have come at Tropicana Field. He has almost equaled his career total of 29 coming into the season.

“I think I am picking the right pitches to swing at,” Miller said, “and when you do, you can’t miss them because you might only get one per at-bat. That’s what I try do to, is hit the one pitch I get each at-bat and move it.”

Miller and teammate Evan Longoria have a combined 52 home runs, the most of any infield teammates in the American League.

Miller’s home run was enough for the Rays because pitcher Archer was at his best. Archer threw seven and one-thirds innings of four-hit, shutout baseball. Alex Colome had his 28th save.

“Baseball is a game where you have to be on top of your game no matter what the score is. It was nice to jump out and get some runs,” Archer said. “We played great defense. Their pitcher, after that first inning, was executing pitches at a high level. It was good that we scored early, but we played great defense today, too.”

Archer, 7-16, has gone at least six innings in 15 of his last 16 starts.

“I think any lead helps the starting pitcher at any point, especially when they get a little bit to work with. Arch was on today. A lot of swing-and-misses, the slider was good. He should feel pretty good about that outing.

“He got to 3-2 counts on a couple guys and made some big pitches. Just from the slider replays, you could tell he had a really good slider. It’s a lineup … that’s really only seen him on video, and there’s not a ton of history there. So anytime that happens, it’s generally advantage, Arch.”

The Rays are now 16-15 since the All-Star break.

“You look at what we’ve done, and we’ve been not just quality, but Rays quality. A quality start is not what we consider quality,” Archer said. “We hold ourselves to a higher standard here. It’s just what it is. So we did catch a lot of heat the first half of the season when we were pitching mediocre. It’s nice that we’ve gotten in a groove.”

For the Rays, one thing that didn’t go well was when Kevin Kiermaier plunked teammate Nick Franklin as he swung in the on-deck circle.

“The most contact I made this whole day was before the game even started. I was just doing a little warm up routine that I always do with a little weight on my bat,” Kiermaier said. “I was just swinging it. Nick went to go get some pine tar, and I always make sure that I am clear of everything, but I don’t think he saw me and I smoked his helmet. I had that weight on there too, so it probably didn’t feel too good. I felt terrible. It was a freak accident, but glad he is OK.”

Said Franklin: “I feel great. I feel like really nothing happened. Right when it first happened, it was shocking — that’s what caught me off-guard. I felt a little bit dazed, but I didn’t feel like anything happened particularly bad at all. Partially it was my fault because I saw him there and I thought I was out of the way, and next thing I know, I got whacked.”

Friday, the Rays play against the Rangers. Matt Andriese pitches against Cole Hamels.

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Rays’ offensive is explosive again in big win over San Diego

Suddenly, there is muscle in their bats. Suddenly, the ballpark cannot hold the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays clobbered the San Diego Padres Tuesday night, hitting five home runs in an easy 15-1 victory over the San Diego Padres.

It continued a torrid offense by the Rays. Tampa Bay has now scored 35 runs over their last three games, and they’ve scored 66 runs in their last seven victories. Since the all-star break, the Rays are 15-15, and have scored 52 more runs than they’ve allowed, the biggest margin in the American League.

The Rays had 16 hits in this game, and 38 over their last games. Evan Longoria, Nick Franklin and Luke Maile each had three hits while Brad Miller, Matt Duffy and Logan Morrison all had two. Both of Miller’s hits were home runs, giving him 24 for the season.

“What an offensive show we put on tonight,” said manager Kevin Cash. “That was fun to sit there and be a part of. Everybody, again, played a part. Lot of home runs and lot of good at-bats, hard contact. For the most part, the guys have gone up there and been aggressive with their approaches. We’ve just got guys that are seeing the ball really well right now.”

Said Miller: “What an offensive show we put on tonight. That was fun to sit there and be a part of. Everybody, again, played a part. Lot of home runs and lot of good at-bats, hard contact. For the most part, the guys have gone up there and been aggressive with their approaches. We’ve just got guys that are seeing the ball really well right now.”

Rays’ pitcher Blake Snell walked four in five innings, but he allowed only one earned run. He has now allowed two earned runs or less in seven straight outings. His record is now 4-5 on the season.

“There’s a lot more to do and a lot more to work on,” Snell said. “I just need to be more aggressive and trust my stuff more. I felt like I get ahead, do what I want to do, then let the hitter get back to even or 3-2. So it was frustrating, but definitely, a lot to learn from. It was fun watching them swing it today.”

Cash said he wants to see better control from Snell.

“I thought Blake did some good things,” Cash said. “He did some things that were maybe not so good. But we all know he’s learning on the job a little bit right now. Pitching with a 7-0 lead in not always as easy as people make it out to be. The last thing you want to do is just lay pitches in there where guys are taking big hacks off you. But obviously Blake, with the command, has to get the ball in the zone a little bit more.”

Shortstop Duffy left the game in the third inning with a sore Achilles’ heel.

“Running out the swinging bunt, and then immediate going first-to-home afterward it just got a little more sore than usual,” Duffy said. “(It’s better to) Be safer than sorry. I’m not a big fan of coming out of games, but I’m not going to fight him on something like that. It was probably a smart move. I’m the stubborn one, for sure.”

The Rays’ 15 runs were their most since April of 2014.

Tampa Bay plays today in an attempt to sweep the Padres. Chris Archer (6-16) pitches against Christian Friedrich.

 

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Rays beat Padres behind a pitching gem by Drew Smyly

The Tampa Bay Rays are finally getting the brand of pitching they thought they would get all along.

For instance, consider Drew Smyly.

Smyly threw seven innings of one-hit baseball at the San Diego Padres Monday night, his fifth straight quality start. In those five games, Smyly is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA.

“This game is full of streaks, hitting and pitching,” Smyly said. “You’ve just got to try to ride out the good streaks and try to limit the bad ones. But I feel good right now, making quality pitches, and I’ll try to ride it out to the end of the season.”

Smyly gave up a home run in the first to Alexei Ramirez, then returned 20 of the next 22 batters he faced, the only runners coming via walks.

The key?

“Being efficient, I guess,” Smyly said. “They were swinging pretty early; they were really aggressive. I got quite a bit of first-pitch outs, which helped my pitch count obviously. Just tried to stay out of the heart of the plate … try to nibble on the corners, and get some weak contact which I did.”

Manager Kevin Cash talked about how crisp Smyly was.

“Just really efficient,” he said. “(He) kept his pitch count down. A lot of early outs. Made them put the ball in play, so just another strong outing for him. It’s nice to see the turnaround that he’s had, among some other guys in our rotation.

“I think he’s trusting all of his stuff more. When you go into a rut like he was in, it’s very easy to doubt what pitch you want to throw, but right now it seems like he’s very trusting of everything he’s throwing.”

The Rays got three hits from center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, including a three-run homer in a five-run eighth inning that wrapped up the game.

“Since KK’s moved up in the lineup, I think he’s done a really nice job,” Cash said. “I know he’s not setting the world on fire getting hits, but he’s doing a lot of things to help us win games. Tonight, the three-run homer was great, but he got the two singles, then he got the [walk], really solid at-bats. He gets on base and does exactly what we need, and that’s steal bases, create some havoc, put pressure on the pitcher and on the defense.”

Kiermaier said he wants to be more of a threat.

“I just want to try to take offensive steps forward from here through the end of the season. I know I’ve been a little inconsistent thus far throughout the season,” Kiermaier said. “This is a never-ending process of working. … It’s always a work in progress. … I’m just trying to have as many quality at-bats as possible and get on for our big guys to drive me in. If it’s a single here or there, steal a couple bases and get in scoring position for Longo, LoMo and Brad — that’s my game, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The Rays continue to be in last place in the AL East, but they’re 14-15 since the all-star break and have outscored opponents by 38 runs.

The Rays play the Padres again tonight, with Blake Snell throwing against former Tampa Bay pitcher Edwin Jackson.

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Jake Odorizzi again shines as Tampa Bay wins one against New York

The bottom of the American League East standings is hardly the place you would look for an ace. Nevertheless, Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays continues to shine.

Odorizzi, 4-0 in his last six starts, took another victory Sunday in a 12-3 victory over the New York Yankees. Odorizzi has a 1.66 ERA since the break.

The Rays led only 3-2 going into the fourth inning, but scored six runs that inning and four more in the seventh. In the fourth, Corey Dickerson had a three-run homer and Evan Longoria had a two-run double. Longoria had four RBI on the day.

Longoria and Nick Franklin each had three hits for Tampa Bay. Logan Forsythe and Matt Duffy each had two. In all, the Rays had 15 hits.

“Nice win,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “We talked about getting some support out of the bottom of our linup. We got it today.”

Odorizzi went six innings and allowed three earned runs.

He said he has gone to his fastball more in his current streak. He is 7-5 on the season.

“It’s good to have the results match how I’m feeling,” Odorizzi said.

The Rays return home tonight to face San Diego when Drew Smyly pitches against Luis Perdomo.

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Yankees hit five home runs in easy victory over Rays

It’s too soon to call them the new Murderer’s Row. For an afternoon, however, the new New York Yankees blasted the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees hit five home runs, the most anyone has hit against Tampa Bay all season, in an 8-4 mashing of the Rays, 46-69 on the season. The Rays are the only team in the AL East that has not won at least 60 games this year.

New York got home runs from Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge on their first major league at-bats. Other New York homers came from Starling Castro, Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius. Rays starter Matt Andriese had given up five home runs all season long; he gave up four on one afternoon.

“We didn’t make many good pitches,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “Too many hittable pitches. Too many they’re capable of hitting out of the park, and they did.”

The Rays countered with only six hits, although two of them were home runs by Brad Miller.

Masahiro Tanaka won his ninth game for New York.

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Alex Rodriguez walks away from Yankees after win over Rays

For a night, he was a conquering hero walking away in glory.

For his career, he was a controversial figure who played in scandal.

It is up to the historians now. Alex Rodriguez has walked away from the game, and the Yankees, and the headlines that plagued him throughout his career. Was he a great Yankee, as the numbers suggest? Was he a cheater, as his history suggests? Either way, we will have eternity to debate it.

Rodriguez, 40, played his final game Friday night, adding an RBI double in the New York Yankees 6-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. His final batting average was .200, and the decision to part ways was that of the Yankees. But one by one A-Rod’s teammates embraced him, and at the end, they chanted his name. They piped in “New York, New York.” They sent him out to third base in the ninth.

For a moment, no one mentioned steroids or suspensions.

“It was so awesome,” Rodriguez said on Fox TV. “I want to thank Joe (Girardi, the Yankees manager). That was quite a moment. It was pretty overwhelming.”

Rodriguez, still four home runs short of 700, would not discuss playing for another team.

In his last game as a Yankee, however, the team scored the game’s last three runs to beat the Rays and Chris Archer (6-16). Archer lasted six innings but gave up five runs, including a tiebreaking home run to Starling Castro.

For the Rays, Evan Longoria had two of the team’s four hits, including a home run and a run-scoring single.

A-Rod leaves the game as the all-time home run leader against the Rays with 56. Forty of those came as a Yankee. His 233 hits are tied for second with David Ortiz behind Derek Jeter (317).

The Rays are 46-67 on the season. Today, Matt Andriese pitches against Masahiro Tanaka.

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Blue Jays bomb the Rays in easy 7-0 shutout victory

You can see it’s football’s preseason. Even the Tampa Bay Rays got beat by a touchdown Wednesday night.

The Rays returned to the cellar against Toronto, losing 7-0 to the Blue Jays, who took over first place with the  victory.

Tampa Bay managed only five hits against Toronto’s J.A. Happ, whose 16 victories lead the major leagues. Kevin Kiermaier had two of the hits and Richie Shaffer two more. Shaffer was immediately sent down to make room for newly acquired Matt Duffy.

Rookie Blake Snell lasted only five outs and allowed five runs. It didn’t help when right-fielder Steven Souza dropped a fly ball in the right-field foul territory, quickly followed by a three-run homer by Troy Tulowitzki. Snell had made five straight starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer.

“It was unfortunate that happened,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “That changes at least that inning. We’ve got to be able to overcome that as pitchers. He just misplayed a ball. Blake’s going to learn he has to pick up the other guy. We’re going to make errors behind some pitchers.

The Rays are off tonight, then start a three-game series against the Yankees. Chris Archer pitches for the Rays against C.C. Sabathia.

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Rays combine pitching, hitting to dismantle Blue Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays may have bottomed out, but there are nights when they hardly look like it.

The Rays, who entered the game as the American League’s last-place team, took it out on the Toronto Blue Jays  in a 9-2 victory. The win, coupled with Minnesota’s loss to Houston, allowed the Rays to move back to next-to-last.

Tampa Bay had one of its better nights. Starting pitcher Drew Smyly threw his fourth straight quality start for the win, giving up only two runs in six innings.

But the Rays’ pitching has been good lately. Since the all-star break, the Rays’ starters are leading the majors with a 2.46 ERA and are second in strikeouts.

Ah, but the hitting was something unusual. The Rays had 14 hits, including three each by Logan Forsythe and Evan Longoria. Kevin Kiermaier, Brad Miller, Steven Souza and Luke Maile all had two.

“We know we’re capable of more offensively,” said manager Kevin Cash. “More with runners on base.”

The Rays send Blake Snell to the mound tonight against 15-game winner J.A. Happ.

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