Andriese bested by Darvish, top-seeded Rangers

Andriese bested by Darvish, top-seeded Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Despite already clinching the American League West, it was echoed throughout the Rangers clubhouse that their regular-season mission would not be complete until they secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

They secured it, for the first time in club history, on Friday night with a 3-1 victory over the Rays at Globe Life Park behind a stellar pitching performance from Yu Darvish. Due to the AL winning the All-Star Game, the Rangers are assured home-field advantage for the entirety of their postseason run. The Rangers and Red Sox could still end with the same record, but the Rangers hold the tiebreaker over them with a better intra-divisional record.

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Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas and covered the Rangers on Friday.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Odorizzi sizes up AL West champs in Texas

Odorizzi sizes up AL West champs in Texas

The Rangers, who clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs Friday, will give right-hander Colby Lewis a postseason tuneup Saturday night against Jake Odorizzi and the Rays.

Lewis (6-4, 3.93 ERA) enters the game in a tailspin, struggling since returning from a strained right lat that caused him to miss two months.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alexei puts a scare into Beltre with fake pickoff

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Alexei puts a scare into Beltre with fake pickoff

It's a dangerous world out there for a baserunner. They're just standing around, minding their own business, trying to run some bases, and infielders are out here hiding baseballs and spontaneously sprinting into the outfield. 

Into this maze of deception stepped poor Adrian Beltre, a man known for being fairly jumpy to begin with. He was on second base during Friday's 3-1 win over the Rays, when all of a sudden -- a wild Alexei Ramirez appeared!

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Archer ends his 2016 with win over White Sox

Archer ends his 2016 with win over White Sox

CHICAGO -- Chris Archer entered and exited Thursday night's series finale against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field with the same 19 losses, as the Rays salvaged the final of four games in Chicago with a 5-3 victory to stop a six-game losing streak.

"Nice win," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Another long day at the ballpark. Good to get away from here. It's been tough the last couple of days, for sure. I thought Archer was outstanding. Really threw the ball well."

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kiermaier eyes Gold Glove despite missed time

Cash backs center fielder to win award for second straight year

Kiermaier eyes Gold Glove despite missed time

CHICAGO -- Kevin Kiermaier is the American League's reigning Gold Glove winner in center field and hopes to make it two years in a row despite missing significant time due to a broken left hand.

"I would like think so," Kiermaier said when asked if he thought he still had a chance to win the award. "It's an award that means a lot to me. I feel like the time that I have been out on the field, I'm the best center fielder in the game. I firmly believe that. But at the same time, when I broke my hand, I know that missing an extended amount of time isn't going to help my chances by any means. I hope my name is at least mentioned."

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Archer wraps up roller-coaster 2016 positively

Right-hander enjoys successful second half after difficult first

Archer wraps up roller-coaster 2016 positively

CHICAGO -- Negative talk about 20 losses gave way to positive vibes about reaching 200 innings for a second consecutive season. Thus, Chris Archer ended his 2016 on a happy note.

"It was a nice way to finish the season," Archer said.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alexei gives some guidance after dodging foul ball

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Alexei gives some guidance after dodging foul ball

Alexei Ramirez was just minding his own business, taking a lead off third base during the Rays' 5-3 win over the White Sox on Thursday. And then, suddenly, disaster nearly struck -- Logan Forsythe hit a ball down the line that might've plunked Ramirez if not for some acrobatic dodging.

Rather than get angry at his teammate, though, Ramirez took the opportunity for a teaching moment. You see, the key to successful hitting is putting the ball in fair territory.

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Snell, Rays consider rookie year a success

Left-hander's final start cut short due to 1-hour, 16-minute rain delay

Snell, Rays consider rookie year a success

CHICAGO -- Blake Snell looked as comfortable as a duck in water on Wednesday night when he made his final start of his rookie season in rainy conditions at U.S. Cellular Field.

The left-hander hails from the Seattle area, so he pitched in similar conditions on many occasions while growing up in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays bats can't come alive after rain in loss

Rays bats can't come alive after rain in loss

CHICAGO -- Neither rain nor more rain again could keep Miguel Gonzalez from his appointed rounds during a 1-0 White Sox victory over the Rays on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Gonzalez endured a 21-minute rain delay before the first pitch was thrown and then sat through a 1-hour, 16-minute delay with two outs in the bottom of the third but still came back to hurl a season-best 8 1/3 scoreless innings. The White Sox right-hander struck out five, didn't issue a walk and yielded three hits, improving to 5-8 overall and delivering his fourth quality start in five September efforts.

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Casali's big night an audition for catcher job

Cash says position is wide open going into next season

Casali's big night an audition for catcher job

CHICAGO -- Kevin Cash told reporters before Tuesday night's game that the catching job is wide open heading into next season. He added: "It's no secret. We're looking for somebody to take off and be that complete player, offensively, defensively, lead our pitching staff."

Curt Casali then went out and put his best foot forward in the Rays' 13-6 loss to the White Sox by going 2-for-4 with a home run and a hustling double.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Recalling one of most dramatic days in MLB history

Final day of 2011 season marked by remarkable comebacks, special moments

Recalling one of most dramatic days in MLB history

Look around Tropicana Field in 2016, and you'll see a shrine to the history of a franchise whose memorable moments you can count on one hand. There's the 2008 American League Championship Series and the Matt Garza no-hitter in '10. Wade Boggs crushing his 3,000th hit into the right-field seats. There's 13 losing seasons in 18 years that have come and been forgotten, too.

Then there's the one moment in 2011 that no one could have hoped for, because doing so would have gone beyond the scope of optimism.

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cobb struggles in final start of season

Cobb struggles in final start of season

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale matched his single-season career-high by picking up victory No. 17 Tuesday night during a 13-6 White Sox win over the Rays at U.S. Cellular Field. It marked the White Sox fourth straight win and kept that outside hope of reaching .500 alive at 76-81.

But even with Sale turning in his typical strong outing, he certainly didn't accomplish this feat on his own. The White Sox offense knocked out 14 hits, including eight for extra bases, as they guaranteed at least a split in this four-game set with Tampa Bay.

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays struggle with RISP, drop opener in Chicago

Rays struggle with RISP, drop opener in Chicago

CHICAGO -- James Shields will not lose 20 games this season, and the White Sox (75-81) still have a chance to finish at .500 by virtue of their 7-1 victory over the Rays Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field. It was a third straight win for the White Sox, who had lost six in a row prior to this current streak.

Shields had not won since July 26, when he hurled 7 2/3 scoreless innings at home against the National League Central champion Cubs, and now has a 6-18 overall mark with one start remaining. Since that late-July outing, Shields posted an 0-6 record with a 9.46 ERA over 10 starts moving into the opener of this four-game set. The one-time Rays' ace yielded one run on seven hits over six innings, striking out six and walking two. He kept the baseball in the ballpark after allowing 18 home runs in his last 45 2/3 innings.

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays unable to overcome K's in finale vs. Sox

Rays unable to overcome K's in finale vs. Sox

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays catcher Luke Maile had three chances to tag Dustin Pedroia at plate in the 10th inning, but the Red Sox second baseman avoided the tag twice -- despite being beaten by more than 15 feet on a relay throw from the outfield.

On the third try, Maile tagged Pedroia, but the ball came loose. And David Ortiz's last hit at Tropicana Field will go down as a game-winning double as Boston beat the Rays, 3-2, in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon. It's the 11th win in a row for the Red Sox, who set a Major League record by striking out 11 straight batters at one point in the game.

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Somber Rays reflect on Fernandez tragedy

Somber Rays reflect on Fernandez tragedy

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jose Fernandez was in the thoughts of those inside the Rays' clubhouse prior to the team's home finale against the Red Sox Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

Early Sunday morning, the dynamic Marlins right-hander died at the age of 24 in a boating accident at the entrance of Miami Harbor. In respect for the Marlins star, the Rays and David Ortiz agreed to cancel the pregame ceremony to honor the retiring Ortiz. Prior to the game, a moment of silence was observed for Fernandez, who was born in Cuba and defected with his family to the United States at the age of 15. He led Tampa's Alonso High School to two 6A state championships.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ortiz cancels ceremony; honors friend Fernandez

Ortiz cancels ceremony; honors friend Fernandez

ST. PETERSBURG -- David Ortiz played his final game at Tropicana Field on Sunday. Throughout his farewell tour, a final game at a stadium has been met with a ceremony and a gift.

Out of respect to his friend Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident on Sunday morning, Ortiz asked that the pregame ceremony be cancelled. The Rays had a video tribute to Ortiz before the second inning.

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dickerson nets 3 hits, but slam sinks Rays

Dickerson nets 3 hits, but slam sinks Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Danny Farquhar was one strike away from getting out of a bases-loaded jam. Dustin Pedroia was one walk, bloop, or blast away from bringing in a run to tie it, and maybe getting the Red Sox the lead.

On a 2-2 count, he crushed one over the wall -- a blast that turned a one-run deficit into a three-run lead and clinched a postseason berth for the Red Sox. It was the blow Boston would need in a 6-4 win over Tampa Bay.

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Red Sox on Saturday.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Longoria headlines Rays' annual award winners

Longoria headlines Rays' annual award winners

ST. PETERSBURG -- On Friday, the Tampa Bay Chapter of the BBWAA announced its annual team awards at the Clutch Hitters Luncheon.

Evan Longoria was honored with the Don Zimmer Award, given to the most valuable Rays player; as well as the Paul C. Smith Champion Award, given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field. The veteran third baseman has now won both awards twice.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Archer's solid outing goes unrewarded vs. Sox

Archer's solid outing goes unrewarded vs. Sox

ST. PETERSBURG -- Time and again over the past decade-plus, the Red Sox have leaned on David Ortiz in the biggest moments. On Friday at Tropicana Field, one of those moments ended up being the first inning, with Ortiz's two-run moonshot proving sufficient as the Red Sox edged the Rays, 2-1, for their ninth straight win. With the Orioles' win over the D-backs, the Red Sox's magic number to clinch a playoff berth stands at two.

Boston had its bullpen warming as early as the fourth inning when Drew Pomeranz found himself in a first-and-third, one-out pickle. But the southpaw induced a 6-4-3 double play and allowed only one run in five innings before the 'pen helped the Red Sox hold on. Both Pomeranz and Chris Archer allowed one home run each, and that was all. Pomeranz gave up a solo shot to Mikie Mahtook in the second inning, while Archer watched as Ortiz crushed his homer to right field in the first.

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Snell sets tone to help Rays silence Yankees

Snell sets tone to help Rays silence Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell hurled five effective innings and Corey Dickerson homered, helping the Rays put another dent in the Yankees' postseason hopes with a 2-0 victory on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.

Brad Miller drove in the game's first run to help Tampa Bay take the finale of this three-game series with New York, which fell to three games back -- with four teams to jump -- in the chase for the second American League Wild Card berth. That spot is now held by the Tigers, who won both ends of a doubleheader at Minnesota on Thursday.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Rays on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays fearless in halting motivated Yankees

Rays fearless in halting motivated Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG -- One of the hottest hitters in the Majors waited on deck Thursday night as Alex Colome induced a game-ending lineout to center field from Jacoby Ellsbury, preserving a 2-0 Rays win over the Yankees.

Tampa Bay's closer was one batter away from watching catcher Gary Sanchez step to the plate representing the lead run. A combined shutout was in jeopardy, but the typically steady Colome kept the American League Rookie of the Year candidate right where he stood.

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Versatility gives Rays callup Querecuto an edge

Versatility gives Rays callup Querecuto an edge

ST. PETERSBURG -- Juniel Querecuto was groggy-eyed when his dad walked into his room at 8:30 a.m. to tell him the news he'd waited his whole life to hear. The Rays had called Querecuto's home in Venezuela to bring him up to Major Leagues weeks after his season with Double-A Montgomery finished.

"He took my sheet from me and said, 'Hey, wake up. We've got to go. You've got to go to The Show now. You've got to find your bag and get out of here and go to Tropicana Field,' Querecuto recalled of his Wednesday morning. "I was so tired. I was sleeping."

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays belt 5 homers but come up short vs. Yanks

Rays belt 5 homers but come up short vs. Yanks

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees have taken to crowding the top step of their dugout every time Gary Sanchez grabs a bat, well aware that they may witness something historic at any given moment. The slugging rookie did not disappoint on Wednesday.

Sanchez homered for a fourth consecutive game, clearing the fences twice and driving in a career-high five runs in leading the Yankees to an 11-5 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field. Sanchez became the quickest player to reach 19 home runs, doing so in his 45th big league game.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays go back-to-back-to-back in 4-HR inning

Rays go back-to-back-to-back in 4-HR inning

ST. PETERSBURG -- Things were looking pretty gloomy for the Rays, down by six runs with two outs and no one on in the third inning against the Yankees on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.

Then Evan Longoria hit one in the first row of the left-field bleachers. Brad Miller used the next at-bat to sky a ball past the fair side of the foul pole in right field. On the next pitch, Corey Dickerson crushed a homer to dead center. The Rays had sliced the deficit in half against a Cy Young-caliber pitcher in Masahiro Tanaka. None of it was enough, though, in an 11-5 Tampa Bay loss to the Yankees.

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Young fan Paulk gets tour led by Longoria

Young fan Paulk gets tour led by Longoria

ST. PETERSBURG -- Evan Longoria hosted a special guest on Wednesday when he had Colton Paulk at his locker prior to the Yankees-Rays game at Tropicana Field.

Paulk, 6, has Hodgkin's lymphoma, and Longoria is the youngster's favorite player on his favorite team. The Children's Dream Fund arranged for Paulk to meet his hero.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Competitive Boxberger chooses to face Sanchez

'It didn't work out today,' reliever says of deciding against walking Yankees slugger

Competitive Boxberger chooses to face Sanchez

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brad Boxberger would point to the competitor in him. It was his choice. Face the prodigious Gary Sanchez -- a player his own teammate compared to Babe Ruth -- or walk him with first base open and two outs to face Billy Butler, a player the Yankees picked up less than a week ago.

The righty reliever was given the choice during a mound visit from pitching coach Jim Hickey in a tied game in the seventh inning Tuesday. Boxberger's first pitch to Sanchez was a curveball right down the middle. It landed a Statcast-projected 437 feet away from home plate in the left-center field seats. It was the difference in New York's 5-3 win over Tampa Bay.

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays 'thrilled' with how Cobb has progressed

Despite uncertainty in rehab, righty impressing back in Majors

Rays 'thrilled' with how Cobb has progressed

ST. PETERSBURG -- Doubt crept into the mind of Alex Cobb -- his rehab after 2015 Tommy John surgery indefinitely paused after a far-from-sharp July 11 appearance. His 2016 season -- and future -- were uncertain. His mechanics weren't there. His two starts with Class A Advanced Charlotte were a mess.

Fast forward less than two months, and Cobb is three starts into his five-start MLB season. In 17 2/3 innings, he's allowed six earned runs with 12 strikeouts and just four walks. He's ahead of anyone's expectations given the uncertainty he battled earlier in the summer.

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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Will Cobb provide bigger boost next year?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from Tampa Bay fans

Inbox: Will Cobb provide bigger boost next year?

I can't help but be impressed by how well Alex Cobb has pitched since returning from Tommy John surgery. How much better do you think the staff will be next season with Cobb pitching at the top?
-- Hank E., Tampa, Fla.

I've been impressed with Cobb's return as well. However, I can't say I'm surprised. Before having his surgery, I thought Cobb was the top pitcher on a loaded staff. Not only does he have great stuff and great control, he strikes me as mentally tough. I also forgot how good Cobb was. I think the staff will be improved with his return. And from everything I've heard and observed, Cobb is a strong and positive influence in the clubhouse.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays welcome Maddon, Cubs to Trop in '17

Club opens season April 2 on ESPN against Yanks, hosts A's in single-admission twin bill June 10

Rays welcome Maddon, Cubs to Trop in '17

TORONTO -- A home-and-away series against the Cubs and a single-admission doubleheader against the Athletics are among the highlights for the Rays in 2017.

All 30 Major League teams released their 2017 schedules Wednesday. The schedule is subject to change.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.