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Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer

Marc Topkin

Marc Topkin has covered baseball for the Times since 1987 — from the lengthy effort to secure a team, to the awarding of the Tampa Bay franchise in 1995, and through each of the Rays seasons starting in 1998. He has traveled throughout the United States with the team, as well as to Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan, and has covered All-Star Games and the World Series, as well as Super Bowls and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Phone: (727) 893-8801


Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays

  1. Rays blow another lead, lose to first-place Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Monday started so well for the Rays, some still seemingly rare national recognition as Steven Souza Jr. won the AL player of the week award, and on his 28th birthday no less.

    Hours of uncertainty over an ominous forecast for heavy rain yielded to a cold and damp night, but playable through intermittent showers, albeit with a brief delay in the eighth.

    Then the game itself looked to be going the Rays' way. ...

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer paces around the mound as the Orioles’ Hyun Soo Kim circles the bases in the sixth after hitting the first of back-to-back homers off Archer.
  2. Rays journal: Chih-Wei Hu has memorable, and long, first day in majors

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Chih-Wei Hu's first day in the majors Sunday was not only memorable but quite long.

    The excitement actually started around 11 p.m. Saturday, when he got summoned to the lobby of the Louisville, Ky., hotel where the Triple-A Durham team was staying to get the news, then called his parents in Taiwan to tell them.

    He tried to sleep until 3:30 a.m., headed to the airport at 4, took a flight at 6 to Atlanta, connected there for another flight to Tampa, made it to the Trop around 10:30, got welcomed and acclimated to the majors, warmed up but didn't get into Sunday's game, then boarded the team plane for another flight to Baltimore, getting to the hotel around 9:30 p.m....

    Chih-Wei Hu was on a 6 a.m. flight to Atlanta on Sunday in his first full day as a major-leaguer.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Chris Archer battled the elements and himself all night, getting huge outs when he needed but also allowing homers to the Nos. 7-8 hitters — his first of the season — while walking a career-high-matching five and throwing 104 in 6⅔ innings.

    RF Steven Souza Jr. has done a good job simplifying things at the plate, leading to his AL player of the week award, but bruising his right elbow scaling the wall for a home run ball he couldn't get to is the kind of risk he has to learn not to take....

  4. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 3.07)

    ORIOLES: LH Wade Miley (1-0, 1.89)

    Orioles 6, Rays 3

    Tampa Bay AB R H BI BB SO Avg. ...

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) in the dugout before starting the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.
  5. Video preview: Rays vs. Orioles vs. the weather in Baltimore


    Having gone 1-6 on their first road trip of the season, the Rays are aiming for better as they - weather permitting - open a nine-day, eight-game, three-city roadtrip tonight in Baltimore, with Chris Archer on the mound. It was windy this afternoon, as you can see, and rain is expected tonight:

    Here is our video preview:...

    Marc Topkin checks in from windy Baltimore, where the Rays are scheduled to play the Orioles.
  6. Birthday present for Rays Steven Souza Jr.: AL Player of the Week honors


    Rays OF Steven Souza Jr. got a nice present for his 28th birthday on Monday, the American League Player of the Week award.

    Souza hit .414 for the week with two homers, 9 RBIs and 1.192 OPS over seven games, from Monday-Sunday.

    It was his first AL Player of the Week award.

    Steven Souza Jr. hit .414 for the week with two homers, 9 RBIs and 1.192 OPS over seven games.
  7. For starters: Weather permitting, Chris Archer on mound vs. Orioles


    UPDATE, 6:33: The tarp is off the field and Archer is in the outfield starting to warm up.

    Here is the Orioles lineup:
    Smith rf
    Jones cf
    Machado 3b
    Davis 1b
    Trumbo dh
    Castillo c
    Kim lf
    Schoop 2b
    Hardy ss
    Jiminez p



    UPDATE, 3:56: The tarp is on the field, but no rain yet anyway,

    Here is the Rays lineup:
    Dickerson dh,
    Kiermaier cf,
    Longoria 3b,
    Miller 2b,
    Souza rf,
    Morrison 1b,
    Beckham ss,
    Peterson lf,
    Norris c,
    Archer p

    DEVELOPING: After a frustrating loss to wrap up their homestand on Sunday, the Rays are in Baltimore to open a nine-day, eight-game, three-city, two-country roadtrip tonight, with Chris Archer on the mound against the potent Orioles lineup.

    But the bigger hurdle may be the weather as rain is expected in Baltimore by late afternoon and, per, to last though the night, and into much of Tuesday.

    The Rays have won all four of Archer's starts and he has pitched relatively well, but they will need him to pitch deep into the game tonight as there has been a heavy load on their injury-ravaged bullpen, which currently features four pitchers who started the year in the minors. Archer went only five innings in his last start.

    Plus, with RHP Erasmo Ramirez slated to start Tuesday in place of injured Jake Odorizzi they are likely to need the bullpen to cover multiple innings then as well....

    The Rays have won all four of Chris Archer's starts this season.
  8. Rays overcome more bad fortune to rally past Astros (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — With Xavier Cedeno on the disabled list, the Rays began Saturday as the only team in the majors without a lefty reliever.

    They sent out a starter, Blake Snell, who abandoned his windup to pitch exclusively out of the stretch in simplifying his delivery yet pitched himself out of the game by walking five.

    They watched their bullpen get even more shorthanded when Tommy Hunter hobbled off the field in the sixth with a calf strain....

    Tim Beckham is greeted in the dugout after scoring on Peter Bourjos’ two-run single in the sixth.
  9. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Astros game

    The Heater

    Bullpen depth is really being tested as RHP Tommy Hunter hobbled off with right calf tightness in the sixth. The staff is already missing Brad Boxberger, Xavier Cedeno, Shawn Tolleson and prospect Jaime Schultz due to injury. Could Ryne Stanek be next man up? LHP Blake Snell better keep searching for something to become more effective and efficient. Saturday he ditched his windup to pitch exclusively out of the stretch, but simplifying didn't work as he walked five and lasted only one batter into the sixth, with 48 balls in 87 pitches. It was admirable and selfless of Kevin Kiermaier to try to play Saturday despite still battling the illness that forced him out Friday, but he wasn't of much help, striking out his first three times on three pitches each before leaving in the sixth....

  10. Rays Tales: Brad Boxberger tops list of most significant injuries

    The Heater

    The late Friday move to place struggling LHP Xavier Cedeno on the disabled list gave the Rays a share of the major-league lead in a category they want no part of, with 10 players shelved due to injury.

    As with the Dodgers and Rangers, who also started Saturday with double-digit DLs, not all of the injured Rays are creating major voids. C Wilson Ramos (knee) was signed knowing he would miss at least the first couple of months, RHP Kevin Gadea (elbow) was a Rule 5 pick they were going to send back, RHP Nathan Eovaldi is basically on a 2018 futures deal while he recovers from Tommy John surgery....

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger
  11. Rays put LHP Xavier Cedeno on DL, call up RHP Ryan Garton


    The Rays already beleaguered bullpen took another hit Friday with news that LHP Xavier Cedeno was placed on the 10-day DL with forearm tightness, though manager Kevin Cash said they don't believe it to be serious.

    RHP Ryan Garton was called up from Triple-A, meaning the Rays won't have any lefties among the seven members of their bullpen.  RHP Danny Farquhar is likely to be used against lefties because of the success of his changeup.

    Cedeno has been largely ineffective this season, but had insisted he was healthy and it was just a matter of regaining command of his pitches.

    But today's news proved otherwise, as the Rays now will wait to see how long he is out....

  12. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Astros game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb seemed to find his old friend, throwing his changeup more effectively at times — but not all the time — than in his first three starts, and 23 times total Friday, which is an encouraging sign. Picking off the Astros' Jose Altuve twice at first also helped. What started well defensively, with dazzling back-to-back plays by SS Tim Beckham and CF Kevin Kiermaier, turned into a mess as the Rays failed to make several plays at key moments, the biggest by 3B Evan Longoria allowing the decisive run in the seventh. Example 3,094 of how the little things can hurt came in the fourth, when C Derek Norris failed to catch a Carlos Beltran foul pop for the third out, and not only did Beltran single, but so did the next three Astros, leading to two runs and a 3-3 tie....

  13. Rays Kevin Kiermaier a hit on MLB Network "Play Ball" show


    Rays Gold Glove CF Kevin Kiermaier shows off many of his talents - including his, well, not-quite- rapping skills - during an appearance on MLB Network's Play Ball show, which airs 10 a.m. Saturday

    The weekly show features an MLB star providing advice to kids on playing the game, recalling their path to the majors and providing tips. Kiermaier is interviewed by MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds. the brother of agent Larry Reynolds, and Kiermaier's comfort is obvious in the interview, which was done at the University of Tampa....

  14. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Tigers game

    The Heater

    RHP Erasmo Ramirez seems, with a $3.215 million salary, to be an expensive spare part, but he shows his worth when he can step in like he did Thursday with five strong innings. He still might have more value as a starter to another team in a trade.

    CF Kevin Kiermaier will never admit feeling any pressure to start fast after signing a $53.5 million extension. But after just one extra-base hit in his first 14 games and 0-for-13 and 1-for-20 stretches, he looks locked in 10-for-his-last-20, and his first homer Thursday....

  15. Sweep of Tigers? Over .500? Hmm, this is getting interesting for Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sticking with our theme of the week, the Rays had some hard knocks — see what we did there? — of their own Thursday afternoon, pounding out an 8-1 victory to complete an impressive three-game sweep of the supposedly fierce Tigers.

    The drama-free win left them 9-8 as they completed the first one-tenth of their schedule and left us assessing what we've seen to this point:...

    Brad Miller greets Steven Souza Jr. after he scores the tying run on an error in the bottom of the first against the Tigers.