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Orioles Buck Showalter's Trop takedown includes bullpen mounds, bathroom options, bladder problems

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has never been a fan of Tropicana Field.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2016)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has never been a fan of Tropicana Field.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has never been a fan of the Trop, and after Monday's 5-0 win he — with some prodding from O's TV man Gary Thorne — took a few more shots during their MASN interview, specifically about the location of the bullpen mounds, and the lack of bathroom facilities.

Also, that he'd like to take at least a shovel to it and make a few renovations.

Thorne teed it up by saying he "went on a tirade" about 3B Manny Machado falling chasing a ball, asking "Why do we have bullpen mounds ..."

On cue, Showalter interrupted, saying, "Don't get me started. That would be like taking a mound and putting it at about the three-quarter mark in the NBA Finals and saying, Hey guys, let's play around that.''

Then Showalter went to one of his primary criticisms of the Rays homefield "advantage:"

"Why do we not have a bathroom in our bullpen but they have one? I know who all has bladder problems on our bullpen because they're always walking by me to go to the bathroom (behind the dugout).''

(So for future reference, just know you can Google "Buck Showalter" and "bladder problems" to revisit.) …

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Rays morning after: The bats have disappeared

Center fielder Mallex Smith reacts after striking out swinging in the seventh inning.

[WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]

Center fielder Mallex Smith reacts after striking out swinging in the seventh inning.

Orioles RF Joey Rickard’s bunt up the first base line during the ninth inning Monday hit a piece of clay in foul territory and rolled back into fair territory for a single.

Steven Souza Jr., didn’t see that from where he was standing in the outfield. Upon learning the news after Rays’ 5-0 loss, he said, “That sums up how things have been going for us lately.”

Rickard would come around to score the second of the three Baltimore runs that inning as the Orioles broke open a close game.

While Rickard’s bunt highlighted how the Rays are not catching any breaks during this five-game losing streak, they are also not hitting.

The batting average of the core players in the starting lineup is .188 through the first four games of this homestand.

Logan Morrison is hitless in 12 at-bats.

 

Here are the others:

Corey Dickerson 3-for-15

Souza 3-for-11

Evan Longoria 4-for-16

Brad Miller 3-for-13

Tim Beckham 1-for-10

Mallex Smith 4-for-15

Adeiny Hechavarria 3-for-14

Wilson Ramos 1-for-11

 

Also, the Rays are hitting .128 (5-for-39) with runners in scoring position during the five-game losing streak.  …

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Rays' Evan Longoria: "We have all the belief in the world in here"

The weekend sweep by Texas and four-game overall losing streak has some Rays fans - based on their tweets and emails - questioning the team's ability to make the playoffs and suggesting they might as well trade away their key parts.

Obviously that's not the feeling in the clubhouse today, where the veteran Rays remain confident the team - which goes into play tonight tied for the second AL wild-card spot - has what it takes.

"We have all the belief in the world in here that things will come together,'' 3B Evan Longoria said. "We'll win a game again. I promise you that, we'll win another one.''

Citing the team's productive offense, quality starting pitching, improving bullpen and efforts to make additions, Longoria said the Rays have the elements to make the playoffs.

"I've done my fair share of begging and pleading with the fans to stay on board with us over the years,'' Longoria said.

"At this point you either believe or you don't believe and the guys in this clubhouse believe. And that to me is really what I'm here for, to win with this group of guys and be excited about coming to the ballpark every day.''

 

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What are the odds the Rays trade for Brad Hand or Pat Neshek?

Padres left-hander Brad Hand has excelled in his two years with the team.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Padres left-hander Brad Hand has excelled in his two years with the team.

In each of the last three seasons, the Rays have been sellers at the trade deadline. They shipped away David Price in 2014, got rid of David DeJesus and Kevin Jepsen in 2015 and flipped Matt Moore, Steve Pearce and Brandon Guyer in 2016.

This year, though, things look to be different. Tampa Bay is 51-48, in position to grab a Wild Card spot and only 3.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. The team already added one veteran last month (shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria) and picked up another one this weekend (reliever Sergio Romo).

With a week to go until the deadline, the Rays might not be done dealing, either. Sports betting website MyTopSportsbooks gives them 8/1 odds of acquiring Padres reliever Brad Hand, as well as 8/1 odds of reeling in Phillies reliever Pat Neshek.

Now, these odds don't really have any practical use — it doesn't seem you can gamble on them through MyTopSportsbooks, or through the various sports betting sites they review. It's more of a diversion, like slapping odds on the possible Home Run Derby winners or the contenders to start the All-Star Game. …

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For starters: Rays vs. Orioles, seeking to halt a skid

 Blake Snell will be on the mound tonight.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Blake Snell will be on the mound tonight.

UPDATE, 5:38: In activating Romo, Cash the Rays are very excited to have him, and are confident he will help them, citing his overall performance in pitching for the Dodgers beyond his 6.12 ERA and the benefit of AL hitters not being familiar with him. ... Cash said Romo's experience in high-leverage and post-season games is also an asset, and that he may have a calming effect on the bullpen overall. Also, the Rays will immeditately put him in high leverage situations. ... To make room on the active roster, the Rays optioned RHP Andrew Kittredge back to Durham, though Cash said they were impressed with his strike-throwing, noting some of other call-ups couldn't do that. ... The Rays made another move, releasing DH/1B Rickie Weeks, who had been rehabbing at Triple-A Durham from shoulder and hand injuries. Basically the Rays opted to keep Trevor Plouffe, who can play 1B, 2B and 3B and be a right-handed bat off the bench. ... Though the Rays got Romo, Cash said the front office is still working hard to make other additions, having been targeting a high-impact reliever and a right-handed bat.

Here is the Orioles lineup:
Jones cf
Machado 3b
Schoop 2b
Trumbo 1b
Mancini lf
Castillo dh
Joseph c
Tejada ss
Rickard rf
Gausman p …

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Rays series preview: Who are the Orioles?

Starter Wade Miley has melted down after a hot start.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Starter Wade Miley has melted down after a hot start.

After the Rangers swept them over the weekend, the Rays won't have much time to rest, with 14 games scheduled for the next 14 days. The second half of their homestand begins tonight against the Orioles. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

Record: 47-51, fourth in AL East
Record vs. Rays: 5-4
Record since last facing Rays: 7-10

With the trade deadline a week away, the Orioles are caught in the middle — should they buy or sell? General manager Dan Duquette has given off mixed signals; first he said he was willing to trade some of the team's veterans, then he went back on that and indicated the club might try to bring in a starting pitcher. With the third-worst run differential (-74) in the American League, the O's haven't looked that great this year, so a stretch run might not be in their future. …

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Rays hoping RHP Romo can regain form, help bullpen

Sergio Romo celebrates striking out Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers to win Game Four of the Major League Baseball World Series at Comerica Park in 2012.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Sergio Romo celebrates striking out Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers to win Game Four of the Major League Baseball World Series at Comerica Park in 2012.

RHP Sergio Romo had a rough year with the Dodgers, and the Rays are about to find out if that is because his ability to slip his mid-80s slider past big league hitters is gone or if there were other factors. Maybe a mechanical adjustment here. Maybe he needs to us his fastball more to set up that slider.

The Rays traded for the former Giants closer late Saturday, sending cash considerations to the Dodgers in hopes of adding a vital piece to the bullpen as they make a run at an American League playoff spot. Romo is expected to join the team Monday.

“(It’s) a situation where a guy that has an elite heart and an elite track record of pitching in huge spots,” GM Erik Neander said this morning. “Probably has as much postseason experience as our entire group combined. Things didn’t work out for him in L.A., but we are optimistic.”

Romo pitched 25 innings for the Dodgers. He had a 6.12 ERA with a career-high 1.400 WHIP and 4.3 walks per nine innings. His career 0.98 WHIP is tops in the majors. He’s held right-handed hitters to a .189 average over his career.  …

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For starters: Liineups as Rays try to salvage series finale

The Rays look to salvage the final game of this three-game homestand this afternoon against the Rangers after a pair of tough losses.

Jake Odorizzi, who turned his best start of the season in his last outing, hopes he turned the corner with his seven one-hit innings in Oakland.

Facing a pitcher with a 7.22 ERA might be what they need.

Here are the lineups:

 

RANGERS

Choo RF

Andrus SS

Mazara LF

Beltre 3B

Napoli DH

Odor 2B

Gomes CF

Gallo 1B

Chirinos C

Ross RHP (2-2, 7.22)

 

RAYS

Dickerson DH

Miller 2B

Longoria 3B

Morrison 1B

Souza RF

Peterson LF

Hechavarria SS

Smith CF

Sucre C

 

Odorizzi RHP (6-4, 4.37)

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Former Rays/current Cubs manager Joe Maddon featured on NBC Sunday news show

Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.

COURTESY NBC

Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.

Former Rays and current Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be featured on this week's "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" show at 7 p.m. on NBC, the Harry Smith interview covering not just Maddon's on-field accomplishments but his extensive efforts to help his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.Full Story

For starters: Souza returns to lineup

The Rays will try to rebound tonight from Friday’s 10-inning 4-3 loss where RHP Alex Cobb allowed the tying home in the ninth during the second game of this three-game set with the Rangers.

Chris Archer (7-5, 3.91) faces Andrew Cashner (4-8, 3.58) in a matchup of right-handers.

RF Steven Souza Jr., returns to the lineup after giving his left hip one more day of rest. Or, almost one day since he pinched hit in the 10th inning and reached on a single.

Tonight is also DJ Kitty onesie night for the first 15,000 through the gates. RHP Erasmo Ramirez was already spotted this afternoon wearing one on the field.

The Rays (51-46) begin the day tied with the Yankees for the lead in the AL wild Card standings and 3.5 back of the first Red Sox.

Here are the lineups:

 

RANGERS

Choo RF

Andrus SS

Mazara LF

Beltre 3B

Napoli DH

Odor 2B

Lucroy C

Gomes CF

Gallo 1B

Cashner RHP

 

RAYS

Souza RF

Dickerson LF

Longoria DH

Morrison 1B

Ramos C

Miller DH

Beckham 2B

Smith CF

Hechavarria SS

 

Archer RHP

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Rays morning after: Bats provided some thunder against Darvish

As tough as Friday’s 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Rangers was – and it was tough – the Rays could find some solace in the fact they managed to hit three home runs off RHP Yu Darvish on a night when the Rangers’ ace had electric stuff.

That’s what the Rays hitters were saying as they returned to the dugout after striking out 12 times against Darvish.

But, Brad Miller, Corey Dickerson and Mallex Smith each hit solo home runs to build a 3-1 lead after eight innings.

“We didn’t get a ton,” manager Kevin Cash said, “but we got solo home runs and that was good to see but there’s no way around it that’s a very, very tough loss.”

Miller crushed one off the batters’ eye in right-centerfield in the fourth, just to the right off the touch tank.

It was Miller’s fourth homer of the season and second in as many home games and tied the score at 1-1. His two-run, eighth-inning homer provided the winning runs in a 5-3 victory against the Red Sox during the final game before the All-Star Break.

In the sixth, Dickerson put the Rays ahead 2-1 with a leadoff homer to center. It was Dickerson’s 18th homer of the year but first since June 24 against the Orioles.  …

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For starters: Souza not in lineup vs. Rangers

The Rays, fresh off a 4-2 West Coast trip, begin six-game, two-team homestand tonight with the first of three against the Rangers.

It will be a matchup of right-handers: Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.59) vs. Yu Darvish (6-8, 3.45).

RF Steven Souza Jr., went through running drills under the watchful eyes of the training staff and Kevin Cash. They want to see how his left hip feels before releasing the lineup. After consulting with the training staff and Cash, Souza is not in the lineup.

Also, Kevin Kiermaier (hip) and Daniel Robertson (neck) are working out before batting practice. Kiermaier was shagging fly balls in centerfield while Robertson was taking grounders at second.

The Rays (51-45) begin the night 2.5 games behind the first place Red Sox in the AL East and with a one-game lead over the Yankees in the Wild Card standings.

 

Here are the lineups:

 

RANGERS

Choo RF

Andrus SS

Mazara LF

Beltre 3B

Napoli DH

Odor 2B

Lucroy C

Gomes CF

Gallo 1B

Darvish RHP

 

RAYS

Smith CF

Dickerson LF

Longoria 3B

Morrison 1B

Ramos C

Miller DH

Beckham 2B

Peterson RF

Hechavarria SS

 

Cobb RHP

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Remember that famous Fred McGriff TV commercial? He's back, in a parody

Fred McGriff in his new commercial for Chassis, a men's grooming line, that looks a lot like his old one.

Courtesy Stark White Entertainment

Fred McGriff in his new commercial for Chassis, a men's grooming line, that looks a lot like his old one.

If you've ever seen Fred McGriff's TV commerical for Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video it will always be fresh in your mind, with the deadpan delivery and famously ill-fitting cap.

Now the former Ray and Tampa native, with help from ESPN's Kenny Mayne, is back in a bit of a parody as a commercial for Chassis men's grooming products - powder, cream and gel - designed, per the company press release, to handle sweat, odor, and chafing "down there."

 

Here is the new video:

 

And here is the original:

 

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Rays series preview: Who are the Rangers?

Starter Tyson Ross, left, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, right, have struggled immensely this season.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Starter Tyson Ross, left, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, right, have struggled immensely this season.

The road trip is done, but the Rays will still face a western team, as they tasks on the Rangers in a three-game series at Tropicana Field. Here's the information you need to know about Texas before the action kicks off.

Record: 45-50, fourth in AL West

While Texas topped the AL West in 2015 and 2016, a three-peat looks unlikely, as the club has hung around .500 this season. During their run atop the division, the Rangers were incredibly fortunate — despite a Pythagorean winning percentage of .508, they went 183-141, thanks in part to a historically great record in one-run games. This season, the luck has dried up, and so have the victories. The team's hitters can run the bases with the best of them, but they haven't produced at the plate, and the bullpen has blown the second-most saves (17) in MLB. With the trade deadline looming, some big-name stars could find themselves on the block.

"The Rangers would like to add a relief piece or two to their roster. They do not want to sell off assets -- and have not engaged with any trade partners -- yet. But the team on the field is making it more and more difficult to hold to that strategy." (Evan Grant, The Dallas Morning News) …

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Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip

Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.

Getty Images

Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.

The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

Souza left Wednesday's game after an awkward first-inning slide left him in pain and with what the team said was a strained hip. X-rays in Oakland were negative, but the Rays said he needed further testing today in St. Petersburg. The concern was elevated because Souza had September surgery on the same hip.

With the good results from the MRI, the Rays say Souza - among the team's most productive players with a .271 average, 20 HRs, 60 RBIs and an .883 OPS - is considered day to day.

Souza posted a similarly positive update on his Twitter account:

"After an uncoordinated slide, it appears that everything looks good! So thankful for all those who prayed for me."

 

 

 

 

 

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