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.

Kiermaier hopes to return soon from wrist issue

Kiermaier hopes to return soon from wrist issue

CHICAGO -- Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier wasn't in the starting lineup against the White Sox on Monday night due to a bruised left wrist, but the Gold Glove Award winner hopes to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

"Right now, I wasn't expecting it to feel like it did today," Kiermaier said. "Even though it got me pretty good yesterday. And the hand area is a pretty sensitive area. I wasn't too thrilled with how I felt this morning. And not a whole lot has changed. Hopefully as time goes on it will progress."

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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.

Cobb looks to bounce back against White Sox

Cobb looks to bounce back against White Sox

Strikeouts could be the order of the day Tuesday night when the Rays and White Sox meet the second of a four-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.

Chris Sale will start for the White Sox. The left-hander (16-9, 3.19 ERA) is a contender for the American League Cy Young Award and has struck out 70 Rays in 48 career innings against Tampa Bay.

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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 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 falter in 7th, fall to Yankees

Rays falter in 7th, fall to Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG -- Gary Sanchez's increasingly convincing candidacy for the American League Rookie of the Year Award kept the Yankees' postseason dream alive for another day.

Sanchez slugged a three-run homer off Brad Boxberger in the seventh inning, lifting the Yankees to a 5-3 victory over the Rays on Tuesday at Tropicana Field. Mark Teixeira also homered and Brett Gardner drove home a run for the Yankees, who snapped a five-game losing streak. The Yankees are now 3 1/2 games back for the second American League Wild Card spot.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007.

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.

Souza to have season-ending hip surgery

Souza to have season-ending hip surgery

ST. PETERSBURG -- Steven Souza Jr. will have season-ending surgery on Wednesday to correct a lingering left hip problem.

Souza did not travel home with the team from Baltimore on Sunday; rather, he took a detour to see a specialist in Nashville, Tenn. After that consultation, Souza texted that he would be having the surgery on Wednesday and that his season is over. But he added that he expects to be ready to go by Spring Training.

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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.

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.

Dickerson's HR only offense as Rays fall to O's

Dickerson's HR only offense as Rays fall to O's

BALTIMORE -- If there was any lingering doubt about Mark Trumbo's back, he laid it to rest with one swing in the eighth inning Sunday. After missing the past two games with back spasms, the Major League leader in home runs crushed a first-pitch fastball for his 43rd homer of the season to give the Orioles a much-needed 2-1 win over the Rays at Camden Yards.

"It reminds you why you play, to have that opportunity and come through," Trumbo said.

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

Ryan Baillargeon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.

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

Franklin hopes to return to finish season

Souza in lineup Sunday, will see specialist for left hip Monday

Franklin hopes to return to finish season

BALTIMORE -- Nick Franklin and Steven Souza Jr. are showing the wear from a season. One continues to play, while the other remains day to day.

Franklin strained his left hamstring while playing first base during the Rays' 7-6 win over the Orioles on Thursday night. The utilityman continues to hold day-to-day status.

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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 rally, upend contending O's

Rays rally, upend contending O's

BALTIMORE -- Evan Longoria continued to torment the Orioles, launching his third homer in as many nights and scoring three times to lead the Rays to a 5-2 win Saturday night at Camden Yards.

The O's second loss in three nights to Tampa Bay drops them three games back of Boston in the American League East. Baltimore remains tied with Toronto for the top AL Wild Card spot. The Blue Jays currently hold the tiebreaker 9-7 over the Orioles, but the two teams meet for a three game set in Toronto later this month.

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Ryan Baillargeon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.

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.

Given chance, Rays' Shaffer taking advantage

Former first-round pick delivers go-ahead hit, draws praise from Cash

Given chance, Rays' Shaffer taking advantage

BALTIMORE -- Richie Shaffer came through in the clutch Saturday night.

The Rays' top pick of the 2012 MLB Draft doubled home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning in a 5-2 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

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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.

Longoria sets new career high with 34th homer

Longoria sets new career high with 34th homer

BALTIMORE -- Evan Longoria is having a special season. The veteran Rays slugger furthered that view in Friday's 5-4 loss to the Orioles with a two-run homer in the first inning. Not only did the home run mark the second consecutive night that Longoria homered in the first, it also gave him 34 for the season, establishing a new career high.

"It's definitely fulfilling for me to know whatever I set my mind to, I've proven to myself that I can go out and accomplish those things," Longoria said. "There's still some work to be done."

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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 strong, but bullpen falters vs. O's

Archer strong, but bullpen falters vs. O's

The Orioles mounted a late rally Friday night, scoring three times after the sixth inning in a 5-4 victory over the Rays that helped them remain tied with the Blue Jays atop the American League Wild Card standings and two games back of the AL East-leading Red Sox.

Zach Britton picked up his 44th save of the season to remain perfect, but it didn't come without drama. Alexei Ramirez lined a ball down the left-field line with two outs, and Mikie Mahtook attempted to score from first. Mahtook was thrown out at the plate on a relay for the final out of the game. The Rays challenged, and the call was confirmed.

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Ryan Baillargeon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.

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.

Perfect relay home thwarts Rays' rally

Perfect relay home thwarts Rays' rally

BALTIMORE -- With 43 straight saves under his belt, Orioles closer Zach Britton put his perfect mark in the hands of his defense Friday. The O's fielders delivered with a perfect relay to throw out the potential tying run at the plate for the final out of a 5-4 win over the Rays.

Rays shortstop Alexei Ramirez lined a 3-2 pitch down the left-field line, and the Rays sent Mikie Mahtook from first. While Mahtook went first to home in 10.1 seconds -- the Rays' fifth-fastest first-to-home time of the season per Statcast™ -- the Orioles used two strong throws to nab him at the plate. Left fielder Michael Bourn hit Manny Machado, who fired a strike to catcher Matt Wieters.

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Ryan Baillargeon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

LoMo will undergo surgery, done for season

Rays 1B has torn wrist sheath, expected to recover for Spring Training

LoMo will undergo surgery, done for season

The Rays placed first baseman Logan Morrison on the 60-day disabled list and selected outfielder Jaff Decker on Friday.

Morrison, who has a torn left wrist sheath, will undergo surgery. He hit .238 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs this season.

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Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Franklin day to day; Rays call up OF Decker

Franklin day to day; Rays call up OF Decker

BALTIMORE -- Nick Franklin's status remains day to day after the Rays' utility man suffered a left hamstring strain on Thursday.

To compensate for the unknown regarding when Franklin will again be available, the Rays selected outfielder Jaff Decker from Triple-A Durham before Friday's opener vs. the Orioles. To make room for Decker on the 40-man roster, the Rays placed injured first baseman/designated hitter Logan Morrison on the 60-day disabled list.

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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.