MLB Team Report - Tampa Bay Rays - INSIDE PITCH


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays find themselves in an unusual spot this month.

For an organization that bases its philosophy around playing meaningful games in September, the rest of the slate presents relatively meaningless baseball, at least from the perspective of contending for the playoffs.

So, what is left to play for the final 11 games of the season?

For one, there is a shot at a bit of obscure history. The Rays could become the first club to ever dig their way out of an 18-games-below-.500 hole and finish the season with a .500-or-better record. It would also extend Tampa Bay's streak of consecutive winning seasons to seven, no small accomplishment in a small market while competing against the beasts of the American League East.

"There are still some realistic, tangible goals to be met," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That one there would be kind of impressive because to be 18 under and to have to fight back, even to get back for a day -- which we did -- takes a lot of energy on the part of our guys and some really good baseball.

"To be able to pull the whole thing off would be kind of outstanding."

Furthermore, the Rays can continue to do exactly what they did Monday night on a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field: play the role of spoiler.

The Yankees are on the narrowest edge of postseason contention, and a few more losses like Monday's could completely knock them out. The same goes for the Cleveland Indians, whom the Rays will face in their final series of the season.

"I think we're just trying to win," said utility man Ben Zobrist, who hit a walk-off single in the ninth inning Monday. "I don't think we're looking at the numbers right now or the standings, necessarily. It'd be great if we could get back there (to .500), do a lot of winning from here through the rest of the season."

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MLB Team Report - Tampa Bay Rays - NOTES, QUOTES


RECORD: 73-78

STREAK: Won two

NEXT: Yankees (RHP Michael Pineda, 3-4, 2.20 ERA) at Rays (RHP Jake Odorizzi, 10-12, 4.08 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

--RHP Alex Colome pitched a career-high 6 2/3 innings and threw a career-high 113 pitches Monday night in the Rays' 1-0 win over the Yankees at Tropicana Field. It was Colome's fifth career start in the major leagues, his sixth appearance overall, and possibly his best. He showcased a powerful fastball-slider/cutter combination that should serve him well as a starter or reliever next season. Colome will be out of minor league options in 2015, forcing the Rays to put him on their roster or cut him loose. Colome has pitched like a man on a mission at times this season, allowing one earned run or fewer in 11 of his 17 starts this season between Tampa Bay and Triple-A Durham while going 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA overall in the majors. "I have to be better than ever," Colome said. "But the only thing I want is that they give me the ball, and I'll do what I can do."

--INF/OF Ben Zobrist snapped a rough stretch with the bases loaded at the right time Monday night, knocking a bases-loaded single to right field and sending the Rays to a 1-0, walk-off win over the Yankees at Tropicana Field. Zobrist had been 0-for-11 with the bases loaded this season, and 1-for-20 with three on dating back to the start of 2013. However, he managed his fifth career walk-off hit to cap off a two-hit night, further cementing his status as the Rays' most consistent position player this season.

--INF Nick Franklin was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Monday, joining the Rays for the rest of the season after coming to Tampa Bay in the three-team trade that sent LHP David Price to Detroit at the July 31 trade deadline. Franklin will start at second base Tuesday night against the Yankees and should see some time at second the rest of the way. He hit just .210 in 27 games for Durham before batting .424 in the Triple-A postseason. "I'm looking forward to getting to know the guys and getting familiar with our surroundings more than anything, and getting out there when the time comes," Franklin said.

--LHP C.J. Riefenhauser was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Monday for his second stint with the Rays this season after pitching in two games during his first stint from April 19-20. The lefty reliever pitched to a 1.40 ERA in 39 appearances for Durham this year, putting together a 5.14 ERA in five postseason appearances. Both of his career appearances in the major leagues came against the Yankees. He should see some time out of the bullpen the rest of the way, but likely not in any high-leverage or meaningful situations.

--RHP Jake Odorizzi will start Tuesday night's game against the Yankees at Tropicana Field. He has put together a 2.69 ERA in 16 starts at home this season compared to a 6.06 ERA in 13 road starts, the largest home-road differential in baseball. Odorizzi has yielded one run or none in 11 starts, the second most such starts among rookies in the majors behind Seattle's Roenis Elias. He has also permitted one hit or none in three starts, joining White Sox ace Chris Sale as the only pitchers in the majors to do so.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You've got to be thankful in those situations, any way you can get them. I was just fortunate to come up in that situation and be able to get it done this time." -- CF Ben Zobrist, after his ninth-inning single gave the Rays a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees.

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MLB Team Report - Tampa Bay Rays - ROSTER REPORT


MEDICAL WATCH:

--CF Desmond Jennings (bruised left knee) has not played since Aug. 29. He is expected to miss the rest of the season.

--INF/OF Jerry Sands (strained tendon in left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list June 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 20. He underwent season-ending surgery July 22.

--LHP Matt Moore (left elbow surgery in April 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list April 8, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 27. He is out for the season but on Sept. 8 made 25 throws from 45 feet at Tropicana Field.

ROTATION:

RHP Chris Archer

RHP Jake Odorizzi

RHP Alex Cobb

RHP Jeremy Hellickson

LHP Drew Smyly

RHP Alex Colome

BULLPEN:

LHP Jake McGee (closer)

RHP Joel Peralta

RHP Kirby Yates

RHP Grant Balfour

RHP Brad Boxberger

LHP Cesar Ramos

LHP Jeff Beliveau

RHP Steve Geltz

RHP Brandon Gomes

LHP C.J. Riefenhauser

RHP Nathan Karns

CATCHERS:

Jose Molina

Ryan Hanigan

Curt Casali

INFIELDERS:

1B James Loney

2B Ben Zobrist

SS Yunel Escobar

3B Evan Longoria

INF Logan Forsythe

INF Nick Franklin

INF/OF Sean Rodriguez

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Matt Joyce

CF Desmond Jennings

RF Wil Myers

OF David DeJesus

OF Kevin Kiermaier

OF Brandon Guyer