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Rays have a keeper of a game as Curt Casali homers twice, Nathan Karns stars

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Starting pitching? Check.

A little offense? Check.

Good work out of the bullpen? Check.

Gee, you think, why can’t the Tampa Bay Rays be this good all of the time?

The Rays had their way with the Detroit Tigers in a 5-2 victory Monday night. It was one of those pick-your-stars games. Starting pitcher Nathan Karns gave up one run and three hits over six innings. Catcher Curt Casali, pushing for more playing time, hit two home runs. Third baseman Evan Longoria had two hits and made a dazzling play in the fourth, driving and stopping a ball, scrambling for it in foul territory and throwing from his knees.

For Casali, who had three hits and drove in three runs, it was the third straight start in place of regular Rene Rivera, who is hitting only .176.

Tampa Bay then turned the game over to its three-headed bullpen again in Kevin Jepson, Jake McGee (who gave up a run for the first time since May), and closer Brad Boxberger, who got his 25th save.

Both teams are questioning just how the looming trade deadline (July 31) will affect the look of their teams. For the Tigers, tonight’s starter (David Price) is the subject of rumors. For the Rays, it is their bullpen arms. Jake Odorizzi pitches tonight for the Rays.

The Rays won for only the 10th time in 31 games.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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