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Game Preview: Saturday (3/11) vs. Cleveland

Cleveland (7-4) at Rays (5-4)
1:05; Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg
RAYS RADIO/1250 AM WHNZ

Pitching Matchup

LH Cliff Lee

RH Doug Waechter, RH Jason Childers, RH Justin Miller, RH Jack Cressend, RH Bart Miadich, RH Tony Peguero

The Bottom Line

This will be a key matchup for Waechter today in the race for the fifth starter's job, as even one run given up could swing the balance in a so far even race. Still Waechter will have faced better offenses than Jackson did, so keep that mind. The only reason to watch the mop-ups is because some may be pitching for the last time in a Rays uniform, sort of a novelty. Otherwise, don't bother watching them. Also, keep a look see for the players taking the field. I don't know the probables there, but some of those position players may also be taking the field for the last time in a Rays uni, and I trust the readers to know who they are.

Question of the Day

It's all about the fifth starter's race, baby. Will Waechter keep pace? That is the question to focus on today, as Waechter should get an extra inning of work today like other Rays pitchers making their second start. Otherwise, keep an eye on some of the fringe players today, as they make their cases to avoid the first cut.

Upcoming Games

Sunday-at Pirates in Bradenton (Fossum)
Monday-at Indians in Winter Haven (Kazmir)
Tuesday-at Blue Jays in Dunedin (McClung)

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!

Cleveland (7-4) at Rays (5-4)
1:05; Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg
RAYS RADIO/1250 AM WHNZ

Rays Reads

-The Rays' two game winning streak was derailed yesterday by the 3-7 Toronto Blue Jays, despite a great pitching effort from Edwin Jackson in the 3-2 loss. Jackson, who is in the battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, went three innings, giving up only a hit, and otherwise being perfect. But the offense killed the Rays today, as Aubrey Huff, starting at third base, was the only Ray with more than one hit, he went 2 for 2 with a double. Joey Gathright was decent, going 1 for 3 with a run scored and a triple, but Josh Paul and B.J Upton collected the only other hits on the day, as Upton stole a base. On the mound, Tim Corcoran pitched a rocky one inning, but did not give up a run, while Shawn Camp, under fire for a terrible spring thus far, pitched a perfect frame. Mark Malaska took the loss despite not giving up a hit. He gave up a walk and hit a batter in giving up two runs, one earned, and did not retire a batter. Brian Stokes, Jack Cressend, Chad Harville, and Travis Driskill mopped up the final four frames, each giving up a hit, and Cressend the other run. The Rays drew a decent crowd for a weekday afternoon game, as 4,006 showed up on a sunny day at Al Lang.

-Luis Rivas' chances of stealing the backup infielder job from Nick Green went from bad to worse on Friday, when the ex-Twins middle infielder elected to have surgery to repair a fractured knuckle on his right index finger. Rivas will have the procedure performed in Tampa on Monday, and it could take anywhere from four to eight weeks for him to return, certainly not in a Tampa Bay uniform. Rivas suffered the injury on February 28th attempting to bunt in a scrimmage at the complex.

Short Hops-Other injury news...LHP Mark Hendrickson, who has the sore right femur issue, threw a simulated game this morning over at the Stu Sternberg complex...RHP Shinji Mori is slowly working his way back from arm stiffness, as he threw for the third straight today...Casey Fossum, the Casanova with the hot tub issue, is still listed as the scheduled starter for tomorrow's game in Bradenton...The Rays as a team have led MLB in stolen bases, and the 2nd place teams aren't even close, the Rays have 21, while the Yankees, Seattle, and Milwaukee are next with ten...Joey Gathright leads all major leaguers in steals with 25% of the Rays total, at 5, while Damon Hollins is neck and neck with him at four swiped bags...Another meaningless spring statistic, the Rays surprisingly have the third best ERA in the AL this spring, behind only Minnesota and New York at 4.11...The Rays can win their 100th all-time spring game today by beating the Indians, they are currently 99-127-6...The Rays conclude a stretch today in which they played seven of their first ten games at home...They now play five of their next seven on the road...Dan Miceli should return to camp soon, as his Italian team was just eliminated from the World Baseball Classic...The timetable for the first cuts this spring has been moved up to this weekend.

Pitching Matchup

LH Cliff Lee

RH Doug Waechter, RH Jason Childers, RH Justin Miller, RH Jack Cressend, RH Bart Miadich, RH Tony Peguero

Breakdown

The Rays scrape the extreme bottom of the barrel with their pitching probables today, as Doug Waechter is the only pitcher worth a look. And a look he shall get, as he is neck and neck with Edwin Jackson for the fifth starter's job. Jackson has an ERA of zero so far this spring with a 0.2 WHIP, and that is hard to match, yet if Waechter pitches like he did Monday against Boston, we have ourselves a race. The Indians were one of the top offenses in the AL last year, so Waechter does not get any breaks like Jackson did in facing the Reds and Blue Jays, yet he still needs to perform in order to keep pace in the race. (rhyming....hee hee) Still, if Waechter is able to go another three good innings, I'd give him the edge in the fifth starter's race. Also taking the mound for the Rays are Jason Childers, Justin Miller, Jack Cressend, Bart Miadich, and Tony Peguero, and the only reason you should watch these players is because several are likely to go with the first round of spring cuts. Taking the mound for the Tribe is southpaw Cliff Lee.

The Bottom Line

This will be a key matchup for Waechter today in the race for the fifth starter's job, as even one run given up could swing the balance in a so far even race. Still Waechter will have faced better offenses than Jackson did, so keep that mind. The only reason to watch the mop-ups is because some may be pitching for the last time in a Rays uniform, sort of a novelty. Otherwise, don't bother watching them. Also, keep a look see for the players taking the field. I don't know the probables there, but some of those position players may also be taking the field for the last time in a Rays uni, and I trust the readers to know who they are.

Question of the Day

It's all about the fifth starter's race, baby. Will Waechter keep pace? That is the question to focus on today, as Waechter should get an extra inning of work today like other Rays pitchers making their second start. Otherwise, keep an eye on some of the fringe players today, as they make their cases to avoid the first cut.

Upcoming Games

Sunday-at Pirates in Bradenton (Fossum)
Monday-at Indians in Winter Haven (Kazmir)
Tuesday-at Blue Jays in Dunedin (McClung)

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!

-Information from ESPN.com, and DevilRays.com was used in this report.