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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.

After being swept by the Rangers, and losing four straight, the Rays are looking to get back on track tonight against the Orioles, and they have LHP Blake Snell on the mound.

Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing will be determined over the next couple hours, as Snell has yet to win this season and has had serious issues working deep into games.

The Rays are planning to add new RHP Sergio Romo to their active roster today, and will have to make room for that move.

Here is the Rays starting lineup:
Souza rf
Dickerson lf
Longoria 3b
Morrison 1b
Ramos c
Miller dh
Beckham 2b
Smith cf
Hechavarria ss
Snell 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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Rays morning after: Steven Souza Jr.'s status is a major concern

Steven Souza Jr. strained his left hip in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.

AP photo

Steven Souza Jr. strained his left hip in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.

The Rays will know more about the status of RF Steven Souza Jr. later today after reviewing results of a scheduled MRI and exam of the left hip he strained in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.

"We're actually pretty optimistic that we avoided a major injury,'' Cash said.

Exacerbating their concern is that Souza underwent surgery on that hip in September and spent the off-season working to recover and rehab.

"When it's the same hip that you've fone through this whole process for and you have pain in that hip that I haven't really felt all year long - it's been pretty remarkable how blessed I've been with the hip - it's very scary,' Souza said.

Losing Souza even for 10 days would be a major blow for the Rays, given his strong offensive numbers - .271, 20 HRs, 60 RBIs, .883 OPS - and the key role he plays in their lineup, having just been installed as the primary leadoff hitter. Plus he is a strong defensive player. …

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Steven Souza Jr. leaves Rays game due to left hip strain

Rays OF Steven Souza left today's game after a first-inning slide into second caused a left hip strain.

X-rays were negative and Souza will be further evaluated when the Rays return home.

He had surgery on that hip last September.

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For starters: Rays at A's, coming off a rally, looking for a sweep with a new look

UPDATE, 2:27: Tuesday's win was the Rays fifth when trailing after eight innings, most in the AL. Last year, they were 0-83 when trailing after eight. ... Adeiny Hechavarria's single that tied the score was the Rays fourth game-tying hit this season with two outs in the ninth. Before the season, per Rays research, their last one before this season came in June 2012, by Brooks Conrad in Philadelphia.

UPDATE, 2:15: The new look to the lineup will be the new norm for now, as Cash said he likes the Souza-Dickerson combo at the top, and feels Mallex Smith, in a 1-for-18 skid, needs to make some adjustments. Cash also likes the protection Ramos can provide Longoria and Morrison.

Cash also said struggling LHP Blake Snell, who lasted only four innings on Tuesday, will stay in the rotation: "He'll make his next start and he'll pitch well.''

Here is the Rays lineup:

Souza RF,
Dickerson lf,
Longoria 3b,
Morrison DH,
Ramos c,
Miller 2b,
Beckham SS,
Smith cf,
Plouffe 1b,
Faria p

And here is the A's lineup:
Joyce rf
Semien ss
Alonso 1b
K. Davis dh
Lowrie 2b
Maxwell c
Chapman 3b
Brugman cf
R. Davis lf
Gray p …

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Rays morning after: Blake Snell remains resolute he can figure things out

Blake Snell worked only four innings, and needed 85 pitches to get there.

Getty Images

Blake Snell worked only four innings, and needed 85 pitches to get there.

The Rays had so much to be excited about Tuesday, down to their last out as they rallied in a true team effort to a 4-3 win over the A's that pushed them to a season-high seven games over .500 at 51-44.

"Huge,'' said outfielder Steven Souza Jr. "The relentlessness of different guys. I've said it before, but different heroes every night. It's exciting to see those type of things. And that's what championship teams do, they win those type of games.''

But they still had one major concern, as second-year starter Blake Snell came up short again, working only four innings, and needing 85 pitches to get there.

Basically, Snell's results were not any better.

And despite the rough outing, his words were not any different.

"It's the toughest thing I've ever gone through,'' Snell said. "I'm going to battle it. I'm going to figure it out. I know I'm capable. And with all the guys in here, how much they help me every day.
"I can do it. I know I can. I'm just going to keep fighting. I'm going to beat it.'' …

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