The Rays Tank: Two chances for W’s, two L’s instead

Leon Halip

The Rays had split-squad games on Friday, playing the Orioles and the Pirates, with both resulting in losses.

Half the team traveled up to Bradenton to take on the Pirates, while the rest stayed in Port Charlotte to play the Orioles, but both squads were defeated Friday afternoon.

Alex Cobb started for the Rays in their 6-4 loss to the Pirates, tossing 103 pitches in six-and-a-third with five hits, three earned runs, three walks and five strikeouts.

With only 10 days until Opening Day, Cobb felt great in his start, saying,

"It was the most comparable to a real game that I've felt this spring," Cobb said. "I went through my challenges with runners on, working through jams, working through my mechanics, figuring things out. And I got up and got down seven times for the innings, which is really nice to get that feeling."

Luke Scott had another good day at the plate with two doubles, while Ben Zobrist hit his first home run of Spring Training.

Down in Port Charlotte, Jeff Niemann made his second to last start in his bid for the final rotation spot, pitching six innings and giving up 10 hits, five earned runs, one walk and one home run. Though Niemann's line wasn't his most impressive yet, and his velocity was still only at 87-88 mph, he had a positive take on his outing:

"Honestly, it's the best I've felt all spring," said Niemann. "The best I've thrown the ball. Really I made just a couple of bad pitches. The homer is what really upset me today, but besides that, I thought I threw the ball pretty well."

Niemann will pitch in Port Charlotte against the Blue Jays on Wednesday, while Roberto Hernandez will start Tuesday against the Phillies in Clearwater, with Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman making the decision for the fifth starter near the end of next week.

In terms of offense, the Rays only had four hits against the O's, but Evan Longoria continued his strong spring with a bases-clearing double in the third, raising his batting average to .389 with seven doubles and 10 RBIs.

Jose Molina was also in the lineup, and after getting some at-bats in a minor league game Thursday, he hit a single and caught for six innings Friday.

Links:

- In former Rays news, Carl Crawford will make his first Spring Training start in left field for the Dodgers today, while the Royals named James Shields their Opening Day starter.

- Scott Boras has a lot to say right now, as he thinks new draft rules are to blame for Kyle Lohse's current unemployment and that "the system is designed to motivate teams to fail." His rant continues here...

- Mark Reynolds killed a baseball in Phoenix last night.

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