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For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The Twins have ex-Rays C Chris Gimenez in their lineup today:

Here is the lineup:
Dozier 2b
Mauer 1b
Grossman rf
Keplelr cf
Vargas dh
Escobar 3b
Gimenez c
Rosario lf
Adrianza ss
Mejia p

UPDATE, 11:01: No Dickerson today as the Rays go with seven right-handers.

Here is the lineup:

Beckham ss,
Robertson 2b,
Longoria 3b,
Morrison 1b,
Souza rf,
Kiermaier cf,
Weeks dh,
Norris c,
Bourjos lf,
Odorizzi p …

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Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans

What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

 

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What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

"What really happened was the ball went in the lights immediately and I couldn't find it, I just saw it in the gap in the general direction,'' Souza said.

"I just hit the deck hoping it wasn't going to hit me in the face. I had no idea where it was and when I looked up it was about 40 feet away from me. I put my head down and I was just hoping I didn't get hit in the face.

"It looks really bad. It was one of those moments you've just got to laugh it off - look like a fool and get back up and try and play.''

Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier was laughing as he watched the replay from the field, and the Rays were yucking it up pretty good in the dugout. …

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Video preview: Rays open tough road trip facing Twins tonight

After splitting a four-game series against the Angels to wrap up a winning homestand, the Rays tonight open a nine-game, 10-day roadtrip with the first game of the weekend series with the Twins:

 

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For starters: Rays, Archer take on surprising Twins to open road trip

UPDATE, 6:37: Cash said it was a combination of wanting to keep Dickerson, who is a team-best . 358 against lefties, in the lineup and Santiago's splits. ... Cash said there was nothing new on the injured players back at the Trop, with Brad Boxberger still slated to throw live BP on Monday in Port Charlotte, Wilson Ramos to catch and Matt Duffy and Brad Miller to hit.

UPDATE, 5:45: And here is the Twins lineup:
Dozier 2b
Mauer 1b
Sano 3b
Kepler rf
Vargas dh
Polanco ss
Rosario lf
Buxton cf
Castro c
Santiago p

UPDATE, 4:11: Interesting that Bourjos is not in lineup vs. LHP Santiago and lefty swinger Dickerson is, but Twins LH starter Hector Santiago has allowed a .500 average (13-for-26) to lefties, but .210 (35-for-167) to righties.

Here is the Rays lineup:

Beckham ss,
Dickerson lf,
Longoria 3b,
Morrison 1b,
Souza rf,
Kiermaier cf,
Weeks dh,
Norris c,
Robertson 2b,
Archer p …

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Rays continue stretch against winning teams on the road

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) collects high fives and shoulder rubs after the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, May 25, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-0.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) collects high fives and shoulder rubs after the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, May 25, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-0.

After returning to .500 thanks to two victories to close out their home series against the Angels, the Rays’ run of difficult games will continue with upcoming trips to Minnesota, Texas and Seattle.

Tampa Bay has played 13 consecutive games against opponents with a record of .500 or better, and with the Twins and Rangers each posting winning records, that could stretch to 19. The nine-game road trip is the Rays' longest all season.

The Twins sit first in the AL Central with a 25-18 record and currently hold a four-game winning streak. The bat of third baseman Miguel Sano has helped Minnesota get there this season. Sano leads the AL in RBIs with 37 and is posting a .300/.417/.600 line. On the mound, starting right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana — set to start on Sunday — has been among the best in baseball this year, with a 7-2 record and an ERA of 1.80, the best in the majors.

After two home runs by right fielder Steven Souza on Wednesday and four RBIs from left fielder Colby Rasmus yesterday, Rays manager Kevin Cash said he believes his team has the variety of offensive producers necessary to perform against the Twins. …

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For starters: Rays looking to get even with Angels, with no TV

Matt Andriese will start for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Matt Andriese will start for the Rays.

The Rays are looking for a split in the four-game series with the Angels in today's 1:10 matinee, a game that is not on TV in the Tampa Bay market.

RHP Matt Andriese will start for the Rays, seeking to go deeper than his last start, when he was ejected after hitting New York's Aaron Judge with his first pitch of the sixth.

The Angels are starting RHP Daniel Wright, a call-up from Triple-A to replace injured Alex Meyer.

The Rays lineup has a slightly different look, with Tim Beckham getting the day off and Daniel Robertson at short, with Michael Martinez at second. Also, Jesus Sucre is catching.

Here is the Rays lineup:
Dickerson lf,
Kiermaier cf,
Longoria 3b,
Morrison 1b,
Souza RF,
Rasmus DH,
Robertson SS,
Martinez 2b,
Sucre c,
Andriese p

And here is the Angels lineup:
Maybin cf
Trout dh
Valbuena 3b
Simmons ss
Calhoun rf
Marte 1b
Revere lf
Graterol c
Espinosa 2b
Wright p

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Morning after: Souza comes alive and other notes from Wednesday's win

Steven Souza Jr. turned in his first multi-hit game since his three-hit game April 25 at Baltimore.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Steven Souza Jr. turned in his first multi-hit game since his three-hit game April 25 at Baltimore.

The slump began for Steven Souza Jr., in late April when he noticed pitchers were making adjustments in reaction to his hot start to the season. Problem was, Souza was slow to make his adjustments.

On April 29, Souza was batting .349/.426/.590 with 11 extra-base hits and 17 RBI through the Rays first 22 games. Since then he was hitting .119/.286/.194 with three extra-base hits and six RBI. That slide included a 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position.

Souza brought an 8-for-67 funk into his first at-bat Wednesday then launched an 0-1 fastball from Angels right-hander Rickey Nolasco 423-feet over the centerfield fence for a two-run homer, the first of his two home runs in the Rays 5-2 victory.

“I was honestly trying to get a good pitch to hit, whatever it was, and barrel it up,” Souza said. “Really just trying to be in control of the at-bat and I got some in some good counts and do some damage.”

His second homer came on a 2-0 pitch in the seventh and found the seats in left-center for the final run of the night.

It was the fourth two-homer came of his career and doubled the amount he hit during his last 22 games (21 starts).  …

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UPDATED: Rays activate Tommy Hunter, place Jumbo Diaz on DL

Tommy Hunter was activated from the disabled list for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tommy Hunter was activated from the disabled list for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

UPDATED, 9:40: The Rays did activate Hunter this morning, and placed Diaz on the DL with "right arm fatigue, retroactive to Tuesday.

DEVELOPING: The Rays plan to activate RHP Tommy Hunter from the DL for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

Hunter has missed a month due to a calf strain. He threw well in and felt good after a one-inning rehab appearance on Tuesday in Port Charlotte.

To make room for Hunter, the Rays could send RHP Ryan Garton, who was called up Wednesday, back to Triple-A Durham, or they could either drop or put on the DL RHP Jumbo Diaz, who has been limited.

Garton was called up to replace RHP Diego Moreno, who went on the DL due to shoulder bursitis.

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For starters: Rays looking for runs and a win

Erasmo Ramirez makes his third start of the season.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Erasmo Ramirez makes his third start of the season.

UPDATE, 5:10: The Rays put RHP Diego Moreno on the DL with shoulder bursitis and called up RHP Ryan Garton, who is 2-0, 0.59 in 12 games at Durham with 24 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings. ... Cash said RHP Tommy Hunter came through his Tuesday rehab assignment fine and is likely to be activated soon. ... 2B Brad Miller (abdominal strain) made some progress today in terms of running and swinging but there is still no set day for his return. ... RHP Daniel Wright will come up from Triple-A and replace RHP Alex Meyer as the Angels Thursday starter; Meyer has back stiffness.

Here is the Angels lineup:
Maybin rf
Trout cf
Pujols dh
Valbuena 1b
Revere lf
Simmons ss
Maldonado c
Fontana 2b
Pennington 3b
Nolasco p

DEVELOPING: The Rays try to snap their three-game losing streak tonight against the visiting Angels.

The offense that carried them to six wins in a stretch of nine games disappeared Sunday against the Yankees and has yet to return.

The Angels have held the Rays to two runs – zero in the last 17 innings – and 10 hits in the first two games of this four-game series.

Erasmo Ramirez makes his third start of the season, his second since replacing Blake Snell in the rotation.  …

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Rays morning after: Are cold bats a sign of things to come?

Steven Souza Jr. extended his weeks-long skid to 8-for-67.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Steven Souza Jr. extended his weeks-long skid to 8-for-67.

How does an offense that has ranked among the most productive in the league for seven weeks go so cold?

The 17 straight zeroes by the Rays hitters are quite glaring, but you can go back to Sunday, when they were held to two runs by Yankees lefty CC Sabathia and company for the start of the skid. In three games, the Rays have scored just four runs, and rapped only 14 hits total.

Baseball is a team game comprised of a series of individual battles, so you make the case it starts there.

And they aren't winning enough of them.

Take Steven Souza Jr.'s at-bat in the seventh inning Tuesday when he had bases loaded and one out and couldn't even put the ball in play, the strikeout extending his weeks-long skid to 8-for-67.

"I've just got to do a better job of getting runners in ... from third base,'' Souza said. "I think that's plain and simple right there. Anytime you have less than two outs with a runner on third, strikeouts or hitting homers, we've got to figure out a way to get him in and I'm the head of that right there. So we get a run right there it's 2-1, momentum kind of shifts back to us a little bit. We've got figure out a way to get the job done." …

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The homer that almost was hurts Rays in Tuesday's loss

What could have been the game-winning blast turned into a long single for Colby Rasmus.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

What could have been the game-winning blast turned into a long single for Colby Rasmus.

The Rays offense was going nowhere Tuesday. Just a bunt single by Tim Beckham in the second inning and a pair of walks through six innings against Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker.

But this is an offense that lives on the long ball, and with Alex Cobb shutting down the Angels offense after allowing back-to-back solo homers to start the game, the Rays had a chance.

It came in the seventh, and as quickly as it came, it was gone.

With runners on first and second, Colby Rasmus launched what looked like a three-run homer to right field. Only the ball didn’t carry far enough.

What could have been the game-winning blast turned into a long single and a frustrating turn of events in the middle of a frustrating inning in what ended as a 4-0 loss.

The ball struck the top of the fence, just above the glove of Angels rightfielder Kole Calhoun, who tried to make a leaping catch.

Because of that, Logan Morrison, who was on second after a one-out double, had to hold until the ball hit the fence and could only advance as far as third. Beckham, on first after a walk, could only move up a base.  …

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Wilson Ramos feeling good and confident, eyeing late June return to Rays

Wilson Ramos is aiming to be back with the Rays by this time next month.

WILL VRAGOVIC / TAMPA BAY TIMES

Wilson Ramos is aiming to be back with the Rays by this time next month.

Sitting on the bench in the Rays dugout in his full catcher's gear, Wilson Ramos talked excitedly Tuesday about the progress in his recovery from right knee surgery and the potential to be back in the major leagues by this time next month.

"I feel like a player right now,'' Ramos said.

Ramos, 29, is doing full workouts behind the plate, catching pitches, blocking balls and throwing to bases, all significant milestones since his Oct. 14 surgery to repair a torn ACL as well as his medial and lateral meniscus. He has also been hitting and running.

"It feels great,'' he said.

The plan for now, Ramos said, is to go to extended spring training next week for some at-bats, then to start a rehab assignment around May 28. With rehabs limited to 20 days, that should put him, with no setbacks, back in the majors around the third week of June, well ahead of schedule.

"That's pretty good for me and for the team,'' said Ramos, a 2016 All-Star with Washington who signed a two-year deal with the Rays. "All the expectation was for after the All-Star break. Now I feel a lot better, I feel confident, I feel strong. ... I want to be behind the plate as soon as possible.'' …

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For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way

Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.

UPDATE, 5:32: 2B Brad Miller (abdominal strain) is not doing much in the way of baseball activity yet so that means he won't be ready when eligible to come off the DL on Friday. ... SS Matt Duffy (left heel) said he is still slowed by the big left toe he bruised taking BP on Saturday and does not have a date to resume his rehab assignment. ... C Wilson Ramos (right knee surgery) continues to make progress in his workouts and is aiming to get some at-bats in extended spring training next week and start a rehab assignment around May 28 and make a mid- to late-June return, which would be ahead of schedule.

Here is the Angels lineup:
Maybin lf
Trout cf
Pujols dh
Valbuena 1b
Simmons ss
Calhoun rf
Maldonado c
Espinosa 2b
Pennington 3b
Shoemaker p


 …

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Morning after: Upon no review, ump knew he was wrong during Rays 3-2 loss

The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.

By ROGER MOONEY

Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – It didn’t take a replay review Monday to prove second base umpire Hunter Wendeltstedt made the wrong call. Wendelstedt knew he blew the call and reversed it himself.

“That was new to me,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said, “but a lot of things are new to me sometimes.”

The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.

Wendeltstedt immediately made he safe signal.

Martinez waved to the dugout for Cash to use his replay challenge, which Cash did.

Wednelstedt and crew chief Joe West huddled, walked off the field as if they were going to the headsets, huddled some more and called Fontana out.

So, without using replay, Wendelstedt changed his safe call to out, which was the correct call based on the replays shown on TV and the Tropicana Field video board.
The reason: Wendelstedt knew his call was wrong.  …

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