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The Martin Chronicles

All things sports and beyond.

Fennelly: Slumping Rays can't wave white flag

Alex Cobb chases down a grounder by Texas Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara in the fourth inning of Friday's game at Tropicana Field.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Cobb chases down a grounder by Texas Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara in the fourth inning of Friday's game at Tropicana Field.

ST. PETERSBURG

Buck Showalter and his Baltimore Bladders were back at it against the Rays on Tuesday night at the Trop, where, the whole world knows by now, there is no bathroom in the visitors bullpen. Showalter, who mentioned it after the Orioles won Monday, agreed with us before the game: They ought to have a Port-O-Let down there.

At least the Rays took a plunger to their death drop.

The losing streak ended at five games Tuesday night. Had ‘em all the way. The Rays held on by their fingernails for a 5-4 win. Kevin Cash’s club seemed bent on writing a how-to book on transforming yourself from buyer to seller at the trade deadline. Might still be working on it.

There was a point Tuesday, after the Rays 5-0 lead began shrinking, as the Orioles came back, that I really wondered if today was going to be Alex Cobb’s final Rays start, and if other Rays were going to be packing their bags. This losing streak was edging toward extinction-level event.

Instead, the Rays woke up Wednesday morning just two and a half games behind first-place Boston in the AL East, Two and a half. After that loss streak, after those blown leads, all of that: two and a half back, one back in the wild card. …

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Is this a special Rays season?

Our latest contestant, Shane Peterson, delivers the winning hit for Rays against Oakland

Getty Images

Our latest contestant, Shane Peterson, delivers the winning hit for Rays against Oakland

It was one of those games we might point at if the Rays turn this into a playoff season.

Yes, a win or loss in April matters as much as a win or loss in September, and certainly as much as a win or loss in July in Oakland.

But it was still one of those games that made you think that maybe, just maybe, this could be a special season.

The Rays rallied with two runs with two outs in the ninth to beat the A’s 4-3. Our baseball top cat, Marc Topkin, captured the late drama. They came out of nowhere, just like that, just like this season

It ended at nearly 1 in the morning, our time, in case you were not up. I was. Watching TV. I was even keeping score. I’m insane like that sometimes. Had a scorebook and everything. Insane indeed. It's what even the hint of a playoff chase can do to people.

As the Rays came back, it wasn’t lost on me that the Red Sox were in extra innings with the Blue Jays in Boston.

Okay, I’m not trying to turn this into Game 162 in 2011, when the Rays came all the way back to beat the Yankees and clinch the wild card on Evan Longoria’s walk-off while the Red Sox fell off a cliff in Baltimore – the moment of moments in Rays history.

It wasn't 162. …

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Timmy Claus is coming to town

Coming soon: Tim Tebow will hit Tampa Bay in August.

AP photo

Coming soon: Tim Tebow will hit Tampa Bay in August.

The circus is coming to town.

Well, close enough.

Timmy the Tebow is coming to Tampa Bay.

It’s true. At least it could be. St. Timothy has been promoted by the New York Mets to high Class-A Port St. Lucie. If he stays promoted, Tebow should be in Tampa Bay for eight games beginning August 10 – four games at the Tampa Yankees followed by four games at the Clearwater Threshers.

Tebow Week.

It’s like Shark Week, except with smaller teeth.

What a show it will be. George Steinbrenner would be proud of the spectacle that will unfoeld at the field named for him.

People everywhere. Media everywhere. Dogs sitting with cats.

It’s going to be something.

It might seem like a lot of fuss for a guy hitting .222 with three home runs and 23 RBIs and low A ball, but there will be a lot of fuss  and a lot of fun.

Tebow is coming to town. Yeah, the Rays will be in town, too. And the Bucs will be in training camp and on Hard Knocks. It still won’t compare to Tebow base knocks. There is also a report that while in town Tebow will heal the sick, or at least place hands on Roberto Aguayo. But we’re not sure yet. But wouldn’t it be something if Tebow swings by Bucs camp? Jameis and Tebow, photo opp. Count on it. …

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Alex Faedo led the way for Florida

A couple of weeks ago, Florida pitcher and former Alonso High star Alex Faedo fidgeted in his seat while trying not to talk about himself, his usual deal. That’s who he is.

But he eventually let it slip out ... that fire he normally keeps inside, just another reason, along with a fastball and slider, that made Faedo a first-round pick in the recent baseball draft.

“I feel like I can strike anyone out with anything,” Faedo said. “When I’m on the mound, I don’t think anyone can hit me. That’s the way you should be, if you have any doubt, you’re not going to believe in that pitch you’re going to throw.”

Meet the believer who has Florida in the championship series at the College World Series. Faedo has willed is team to a best-of-three showdown against SEC rival LSU for a national title with some unforgettable pitching.

He is 2-0 in Omaha. Saturday, Faedo pitched 7.1 innings of shutout baseball in a 3-0 win against TCU in an elimination game, allowing just three hits while striking out 11. In his first start in Omaha, he threw seven shutout innings against TCU, allowing just two hits and striking out 11. You getting the picture?

A 0.00 CWS. …

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Hey, somebody really ought to write about this Aaron Judge guy

Aaron Judge stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field.

AP photo

Aaron Judge stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field.

He can catch, too.

It's no tall tale.

Aaron Judge, The Amazing Colossal Man, has come and gone, but not before he stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field. The 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge robbed Evan Longoria of an RBI double and helped double off Corey Dickerson. Best catch of the year to go with all those home runs.

Just when we'd thought we'd seen and heard and written everything about Judge -- and we've got the Sunday Times' to prove it, a wonderful presentation of all things Judge -- the 6-foot-10, 309-pound Judge gave us a little something extra.

Rays Kevin Cash had heard enough about Judge even before Sunday's tilt.

"But, you know, he made a tremendous game-saving play," Cash said.

Look, the Rays had won four straight games and five of six, including three consecutive series wins heading into Sunday's finale with the Yankees.

But the big guy can't stay out of the picture frame.

What is it that the 7-foot-4, 365-pound Judge can't do?

"I saw I might have a chance and I just dove for it," Judge said of his grab.

"I thought it was a double for sure," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. …

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