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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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Rays take over last place with loss to Toronto Blue Jays

Bad teams leave runners on base. Bad teams let games slip away. Bad teams continue to lose.

Good teams? They get hits with two outs and two strikes. They pull games out. Good teams continue to win.

And so the Tampa Bay Rays lost another game Monday, taking over last place in the American League with a 7-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays (coupled with Minnesota’s 3-1 victory over Houston). The Rays are now 45-66 on the season, ahead of only Atlanta of the National League in the majors.

Tampa Bay came back from deficits of 2-0 and 4-2 to tie the game, but the seventh inning made the difference in the game. In the top of the inning, the Rays had runners on second and third with no one out and the meat of their order coming up. But Evan Longoria struck out. Brad Miller flew out to right, but the runner was not sent. And Mikie Mahtook flew out to center.

In the bottom of the inning, the Rays walked the bases loaded. Still, they almost got out of the inning when Melvin Upton struck out. Justin Smoak then grounded to the pitcher, but as Bobby Wilson made the tag at home and prepared to throw to first, he was clipped and unable to make the throw. Devon Travis then drove an 0-2 pitch up the middle. Jose Bautista then doubled in two more runs.

“We’ve talked about it too many times,” said manager Kevin Cash. We’ve got to get the run in and we didn’t.”

Travis was four-for-five to lead the Blue Jays. Logan Forsythe was three for four for the Rays.

The teams play again tonight as Drew Smyly faces Marco Estrada.

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Rays nearing last place in American League after loss to Twins

The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t in the cellar yet, but they can see it from here.

The Rays lost a 6-3 game to the Minnesota Twins Sunday, dropping the Rays to one-half game ahead of the Twins in the American League. Miguel Sano hit two home runs, one of them off the roof at Tropicana Field.

“I think that one got away from us a little bit,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “Interesting first inning. I thought Matt Andriese threw the ball well. Obviously one pitch he’d like to have back, the pitch to Sano. Probably not quite as crisp of an outing as he had against Kansas City, but I still thought he threw the ball well. Offensively, we had some good at-bats, we had some opportunities, we got a couple runs.”

Andriese lost his third straight game (one in relief).

Evan Longoria hit his 25th home run in the loss.

“I think he’s done a really nice job,” Cash said. “When he came into spring training, he appeared to have taken that next step and looked like a big-league pitcher. Even in his bullpen sessions. Just the way he carried himself and that’s carried into the season even though he wasn’t with us early on. But since he’s been here, he’s done everything we’ve asked of him. He’s taken a difficult role coming out of the rotation and into the bullpen, and now to get him back in [the rotation], he’s adjusted to everything we’ve thrown at him. We know he’s a big part of our future going forward, and he continues to make progress overall.”

The Twins have won 8 of their last 11 games.

“It was just a matter of one-pitch mistake, pretty much,” Andriese said. “Just didn’t execute on a fastball to Sano there, and he hit it out for three runs. All in all, I felt pretty decent about my outing. But like I said, it was one pitch.”

The Rays now travel to Toronto, where Jake Odorizzi faces R.A. Dickey Monday night.

 

 

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Rays stay out of cellar as Chris Archer pitches well against Twins

Against the worst team in the American League, the best players for the Tampa Bay Rays finally were their players.

As a result, the Rays avoided replacing the Minnesota Twins in the AL cellar.

Tampa Bay won 7-3 over the Twins in a game with several heroes.

There was pitcher Chris Archer, who threw six innings of three-hit, one-run baseball. Archer is still only 6-15 on the season, but he’s 2-2 in his last four games.

There was third baseman Evan Longoria, who hit his 24th home run, and his sixth in his last six games. Longoria is on pace to finish with 36 homers.

There was closer Alex Colome, who was called on after the Rays gave up two runs in the ninth. It was his 27th save of the season.

“Nice bounceback win,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “Yesterday was a little sloppy; I’m glad we came out more energized today. Put together some good at-bats, got to their young pitcher early with the 1st-inning run and then some home runs. I thought Arch was good. He just ran out of pitches there at the end, and drove his pitch count up a little bit in that last (6th) inning. Brad Miller is still doing a lot of things for us. Loved the way he ran the bases today, aggressive, put himself in scoring position … just tremendous baserunning.”

Archer said he would have liked to have gone longer.

“I don’t know, I feel like lately I’ve been pretty efficient even when I do have a lot of strikeouts,” Archer said. “Tonight the 6th inning got away from me a little bit, but I’m not even worried about it. We got a team win, it was a great team game and I’m hanging my hat on that. … Six was all the team needed tonight. Our bullpen was pretty fresh, and it was a team win. That’s what matters. I definitely want to go deeper, but it’s not all about me; it’s about the team win.”

Matt Andriese pitches for the Rays today.

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Twins come from behind against Erasmo Ramirez of Tampa Bay

Remember when Erasmo Ramirez was claiming almost every win for the Tampa Bay Rays.

If so, you have a fairly good memory.

Since Ramirez’ 6-1 beginning (through May 7), he has gone only 1-8. The latest loss came Friday night, when Ramirez gave up three runs in 2 2/3 innings, and the Rays led a late lead slip away to the Minnesota Twins. The Twins closed to within a half-game of the Rays in the battle for last place in the American League.

Ramirez gave up a two-run homer to Eddie Rosario and a solo shot to Miguel Sano in the seventh- and eighth-innings as the Rays saw a 2-1 lead turn into a four-run loss. In the effort, the Rays wasted a decent start by Blake Snell, who threw 5 1/3 innings of one run, four-hit baseball.

“Obviously not our best game,” said manager Kevin Cash. “We didn’t capitalize on some opportunities. We let the game get away. Left too many pitches up in the zone that those guys could handle and the ball left the park.”

Brad Miller hit his 20th home run for the Rays. Miller and Tim Beckham each had two hits.

“(Ramirez) has been throwing the ball pretty good for us,” Cash said. “Today, you go back and look at those pitches and I’m guessing they were probably hit where they were supposed to be hit [given] the location of them.”

Snell second-guessed his effort.

“I wish I would have went a little deeper in the game, and by doing that, I should’ve been more consistent with my pitches and more competitive in the zone,” Snell said. “It’s something I’ll learn from. I feel like I was getting better and better, but once I get into that sixth, I’ve got to finish it quick. I feel like I’m just trying to do too much and I just need to be in the zone and make them hit it and see how it plays out.”

The six runs were the most the Rays have given up since July 18.

Chris Archer pitches against Jose Berrios of the Twins today at 6:10 p.m.

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