And then there were three …
The Rays (77-82) and Orioles (75-84) begin the final series of the year tonight at the Trop.
The Rays need a win to clinch third place in the AL East, their highest finish under manager Kevin Cash and their highest since finishing second in 2013, their last playoff season.
Jake Odorizzi is on the hill for Rays.
Former Rays INF Tim Beckham returns to the Trop for the first time since his Aug. 31 to Baltimore. He’s batting leadoff and playing shortstop.
Peter Bourjos is in centerfield for the second straight game as Kevin Kiermaier fights a bug he picked up in New York. Kiermaier said he expects to play the final two games of the year.
Manager Kevin Cash resting some of the regulars to get a look at some players who may or may not be back in 2018.
Here are the lineups:
Miley LHP (8-14, 5,52)
Odorizzi RHP (10-8, 4.26)Full Story
OF Steven Souza Jr. was voted the Rays 2017 Don Zimmer MVP award by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
RHP Jake Faria was voted the Most Outstanding Rookie, and RHP Alex Cobb winner of the Paul C. Smith Champion award.
Souza ranks in the 3 on the team with 30 HRs, 78 RBIs, an .813 OPS, 80 walks, 16 steals. His combination of homers and steals is unmatched in franchise history, and by only three other players in the majors this season, Brian Dozier, Paul Goldschmidt and this Mike Trout guy. He is hitting .241.
RHP Alex Colome, who leads the majors with 46 saves, finished second and 1B Logan Morrison third.
Faria was a unanimous selection by the writers; RHP Austin Pruitt was second and INF Daniel Robertson third.
Cobb, expected to leave the team as a free agent, was voted the winner of the award given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professsionalism on and off the field. Souza finished second and Evan Longoria third.
Winners were announced Friday at the Clutch Hitters luncheon and will be presented on the field before the game.
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg was still in an admittedly "ornery" mood when we talked before Thursday's game, the disappointment of the team letting a playoff berth slip away still bothering him.
Given that, and the fact that the Rays uncharacteristically were buyers leading up to the trade deadline, adding about $7-million to their payroll, made it unsurprising, and even expected, that he said they go into next season likely to cut the payroll, which ended up at around $80-million. He often says that at the end of one season, but I didn't get the sense he was considering a drastic reduction.
Most of what he said was in today's Tampa Bay Times, but is some more of our Q-and-A, with his answer on the TV deal particularly interesting, floating the idea of starting their own network: …Full Story
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Rookie Jake Faria will make the start in place of Alex Cobb, who was shut down for the year.
The Rays reach the end of the road tonight as they take on the Yankees in the Bronx to wrap up their schedule away from the Trop.
Rookie RHP Jake Faria will make the start in place of free-agent-to-be RHP Alex Cobb, who was shut down for the year after reaching 179 1/3 innings in his last start.
The Yankees will be going with veteran RHP Sonny Gray, who seems to lined up to pitch a potential division series opener next week if they survive the wild-card game.
The Rays are 37-43 on the road, compared to 39-39 at home.
Here is the Rays lineup, with a trio of reserves starting tonight in the outfield:
Smith RF, Full Story
And here is the Yankees lineup:
T. Frazier 3b
LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Shuttling between Triple-A and the majors, Jose Alvarado is 0-3, 3.77 in 34 appearances.
The Rays can't do anything at this point to salvage this being a lost season, but they can do some things to try to keep it from happening again.Full Story
For example, getting hard-throwing rookie relievers LHP Jose Alvarado and RHP Ryne Stanek some experience pitching in Yankee Stadium against some of the pinstriped power hitters.
Both got the chance to work in Wednesday's 6-1 loss, and both showed there is more work to be done.
"We've got to get those guys to where they're throwing strikes more consistently,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "With the stuff that they're featuring, the innings shouldn't be that hard to get through and work through.''
Shuttling between Triple-A and the majors, Alvarado is 0-3, 3.77 in 34 appearances, allowing 23 hits and nine walks in 28 2/3 innings while striking out 28. Stanek, who has dazzling success at Triple-A is 0-0, 6.38 in 20 appearances, allowing 25 hits and 11 walks in 18 1/3 innings while striking out 26.
"That's a lot because they're young and still kind of finding their way,'' Cash said. "Very intrigued by their performances going into the off-season, and also coming into next season.''
Part of the September internship is competing in loud stadiums against good teams, which is why the Rays specifically brought in Alvarado in the sixth to face the top of the Yankees order with one out. He allowed a double to Brett Gardner and walked Aaron Judge, but came back to strike out Gary Sanchez and get Didi Gregorius to ground out.
"There was purpose behind that,'' Cash said. "Hopefully the next time he comes into ths ballpark it's a clean slate and we're playing for a little bit more.''
Stanek took over in the seventh and made quick work, getting Starlin Castro to strike out, Greg Bird to ground out and Chase Headley to fly out.
"Same with Stanek, get him in that atmosphere,'' Cash said. "We're going to have to find a way to win ballgames in this ballpark for us to be successful. …
Matt Andriese enters his final game of the season with a 5-4 record and 4.44 earned-run average.
Needing to win their final five games to avoid a fourth straight losing season, the Rays send RHP Matt Andriese to the Yankee Stadium mound tonight in his last outing of 2018.
Andriese has had an up and down season, up in the first months as he rolled to a promising 5-1, 3.24, but then down as he injured his right hip, missed more than two months and has struggled since he came back, leading to his current 5-4, 4.44 mark.
"I want to finish in a high note and go into next season with a good outing and a positive impression,'' he said. "There's been a lot of ups and down. The (hip) injury kind of put a damper on things. I think I've proved that I've come back healthy, not exactly with the results I wanted.''
The playoff bound Yankees are starting RHP Luis Severino, who will be prepping for an expected Tuesday start in the AL wild-card game.
Here is the Rays lineup:
And here is the Yankees lineup, with Aaron Judge as the DH:
"You come out of spring training with a goal of getting there, and when your season is cut short and you don't get there, obviously there's frustration that comes along with that," Kevin Cash said.
That the Rays stayed alive in the postseason race - playing meaningful games - into the final week of September should have some value, especially since they were coming off a 68-win 2016 season. …Full Story
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Tonight marks Wilson Ramos' 55th start of the season.
UPDATE, 5:59 p.m.: The Rays are officially eliminated from the playoff race with their next loss or the Twins next win. ... Both LHP Xavier Cedeno and 3B coach Charlie Montoyo got word that their familes in Puerto Rico were safe and their homes withstood the hurricane. ... Ramos said he wasn't focused on the bonus, just staying healthy and contributing, knowing that would lead to good things.
Here is the Yankees lineup:
T. Frazier 3b
C. Frazier lf
DEVELOPING: The Rays open their final road series of the season tonight at Yankee Stadium, which is also where they played their first of the season. …Full Story
Tampa Bay Rays
From left: LHP Jose Alvardo, INF Daniel Robertson, OF Cesar Puello (squatting), veteran RHP Alex Colome, interpreter Manny Navarro, RHP Andrew Kittredge, batting practice thrower Todd Silverman, RHP Ryne Stanek, LHP Blake Snell (rear), strength and conditioning assistant Joey Greany, RHP Jake Faria, RHP Austin Pruitt.
In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.Full Story
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Chris Archer failed to get through the fourth inning as he allowed six runs on eight hits and a walk.
BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles.
Trying to put a good finish on his season, Archer instead faltered again, failing to get through the fourth inning as he allowed six runs on eight hits and a walk. While it wasn't all his fault, as several singles got through holes in the infield, Arch had to shoulder much of the blame, allowing four straight hits in a four-run first , and a two-run homer to JJ Hardy - in his Orioles farewell - in the fourth.
Archer has not gotten past four innings in four of his last five starts. At 9-12, 4.22, he has has one start remaining, on Saturday.
The loss dropped the Rays to 76-80, and pushed them to the brink of official elimination from the American League playoff race as they would need to win their last six games and the Twins would have to lose their last six to force a tied. Also, the Rays have to go 5-1 to avoid a third consecutive losing season under manager Kevin Cash and a fourth straight overall. …Full Story
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
The Rays are starting their All-Star pitcher, Chris Archer.
UPDATE, 12:40: The Orioles said Bundy was scratched due to a left hamstring strain.
UPDATE, 12:20: Cash said he wanted to give Longoria and Souza the day off especially in advance of Monday's team off day: "They play a lot and I just felt it was time for them to get a day, and double it up with the off-day.'' ... Cash said finishing with a .500 or winning record wouldn't be any kind of consolation if they miss the playoffs: "Not really for me, I want to win 'em all. So .500, two games over, two games under, if it's not in the playoffs it's just not good enough. ... Cash said no players have talked to him about kneeling for the anthem, or about Oakland's Bruce Maxwell doing so last night. "You've seen throughout sports players are entitled to kind of voice their opinioins by doing that. If they chose to, I'd support it,'' he said. In asking a couple of Rays players about it, they declined comment. .. Cash said there has been no decision yet on whether Alex Cobb will make his scheduled start on Thursday; he seems likely to skip it based on his heavy workload (179 1/3 innings) in his first full season since Tommy John surgery.
Lucas Duda, right, watches his three-run home run against the Orioles.
BALTIMORE -- With one swing of the bat, Rays DH/1B Lucas Duda broke a team record and tied a personal mark in Saturday's game against the Orioles that was not complete at press time.
Duda's three-run homer in the third was the Rays' 217th of the season, surpassing the team standard set last year. And it was his 30th overall of the season split between the Mets and Rays, matching his high from 2014.
Logan Morrison raised the team record to 218 in the ninth with his 37th of the season, though it was his first homer -- and RBI -- since Sept. 4.
RHP Jake Odorizzi continued his late-season turnaround with another solid outing, allowing just an unearned run -- on Duda's first-inning error -- and three hits over six innings.
That was the fourth straight start in which Odorizzi allowed two or fewer earned runs. Twice in the previous three starts he took a no-hitter into the sixth.
After Duda's homer gave them a 3-1 lead, the Rays added on with two in the seventh, taking advantage of some sloppy Orioles play. …Full Story
UPDATE, 3:29: Here is the Rays lineup, with Duda at 1B and Morrison the DH:
And here is the Orioles lineuo:
DEVELOPING: The Rays take on the Orioles again tonight and will face another old friend for the first time, as RHP Jeremy Hellickson will take the mound for the home team.
Hellickson was drafted by the Rays in 2005 and pitched for them from 2010-14, then was traded to Arizona. He has since bounced to the Phillies and then in late July to the Orioles.
Even though 3B Evan Longoria is the only player he will face he spent much time with, Hellickson is looking forward to the assignment, especially since many of the coaches are the same.
"It'll be fun," Hellickson said. "It's still the Rays, it's still the team I grew up with."
The Rays tonight are starting Jake Odorizzi, who is looking to put a good finish on a season marred by injury and inconsistency, and that may be his last for the Rays with a trade seeminly likely.
Lineups when available.
[WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
Catcher Wilson Ramos connects for a two-run single in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Sept. 20, 2017.
The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.
And Ramos is giving the Rays a pretty good glimpse of what that can be like.
In Friday's 8-3 win over the Orioles, he hit a grand slam - and just missed a solo homer that was replay reversed into a double - as part of a three hit night. In 60 games since his late-June return, Ramos is hitting .262 with 10 homers, 30 RBIs and a .735 OPS.
"It's taken a little bit of time for him to get his timing,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "He's kind of had the rollercoaster here a little bit. But as of late you can see the impact that he could have at the plate for us.
"A lot of excitement for the next couple days to finish strong for him, and then going in (to next season) knowing that we've got a force behind the plate with the bat.''
Ramos, 30, said he is excited by the possibilities, especially knowing he will have a normal off-season of just baseball workouts.
"I feel excited for this year to come back, and I feel 100 percent,'' he said. "Ill have a good off-season, I'll have time to work hard. ... Next year is going to be a good year.'' …Full Story
UPDATE, 3:46: After sitting out Thursday in recovering from extraction of a tooth, former Rays SS Tim Beckham is in the Orioles lineup tonight for his first game against his ex-mates, batting leadoff and playing short.
DEVELOPING: The Rays will take on the Orioles again tonight in game two of the four-game series and will have free-agent-to-be Alex Cobb on the mound.
Cobb has been arguably the Rays most consistent starter this season, posting an 11-10, 3.63 mark. And he has pitched relatively well against the Orioles, going 1-1, 4,42 in three starts, and 5-2, 2.54 in 11 overall. Cobb is slated for one more start for the Rays after tonight, on Thursday in Yankee Stadium.
The Orioles are starting veteran RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, whom the Rays have had their way with in three games already this season.
CF Kevin Kiermaier and SS Adeiny Hechavarria are back in the Rays lineup, and rookie Daniel Robertson will start at second.
Here is the Rays lineup:
Kiermaier cf, Full Story