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Game Preview: Monday (3/20) vs. Pittsburgh (St. Pete)

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Pittsburgh (14-7) at RAYS (9-9)
1:05; Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg
NO TV/RADIO

Pitching Matchup:

RH Brandon Duckworth

RH Edwin Jackson

Upcoming Games

Tomorrow-at Boston in Ft. Myers (Hendrickson)

Wednesday-OFF

Thursday-vs. Blue Jays in St. Pete; 7:05 (TBA)

14 Days to Opening Day

21 Days until the Home Opener

GO RAYS!!!!!!

Pittsburgh (14-7) at RAYS (9-9)
1:05; Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg
NO TV/RADIO

Rays 6, Minnesota 5

By Patrick Kennedy
St. Petersburg-You know, I was beginning to wonder if Al Lang Field, the park I love so much and go to wheneverI can, had a curse whenever I attended. In the two previous games I had gone to, against Minnesota and Cleveland, the Rays had given up 11 total runs in the top of the sixth inning in two losses. As I headed back to witness Sunday's game, I wondered, would it happen again? Thanks to more great pitching from Seth McClung, and three multiple hit Rays, it did not. McClung hurled five innings, giving up two runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out four, and went in to start the sixth inning before being relieved. The two runs given up were McClung's first earned runs allowed this spring, but his ERA remained an impressive 1.29. Wayne Franklin continued to pitch extremely well, taking care of runners McClung left on base when he departed in one perfect inning, inducing a double play in the frame. However Tim Corcoran nearly gave away the farm (big surprise) by allowing two earned runs on two hits in one inning. He also walked two. Travis Harper gave up an unearned run, but Jason Childers was able to close it out in the ninth to preserve the victory.

In the batter's box, the Rays certainly weren't lacking firepower, as Jorge Cantu, in his first game back with the Rays from the World Baseball Classic, continued his torrid hitting stretch, doubling in two runs and scoring one on the day. Carl Crawford also stole a base in going 2 for 3 with two runs scored and one driven in, and Julio Lugo went 3 for 4 in crossing the plate once on the day. The game lasted a little over two and a half hours, though the announced crowd of 5,184 would've been hard-pressed to find a better use of their afternoon on a beautiful day in The Sunshine City.

On a serious note, a man sitting in front of me collapsed in the middle of the second inning due to a possible stroke and was attended to by even medicine officials during the course of the game before being taken out in a wheelchair. The man just went unconscious and collapsed onto the seating row walkway, getting cuts on the metal bleachers as he fell. He was unresponsive for a few minutes as myself and a few other nearby spectators summoned police and event medicine. Although the man came back into consciousness and appeared to be fine as he was taken out, it just goes to show that Al Lang is not a place to go on a hot, sunny day if you are not properly hydrated, and that the sun can truly wear down on a person, especially someone as elderly as this person. No whether he had a stroke, I don't know, but please, when going to games at Al Lang or other Florida spring training parks, drink lots of fluids, keep your body hydrated, and use sunscreen liberally.

Rays Reads

-The Rays made a roster change on Sunday as they came to terms with right-hander Al Reyes on a minor league contract. Reyes, 35, is nearing the close of his rehab from Tommy John surgery, which was perfomred on October 19th of last year. To accompany Reyes' addition to the active camp roster, righty Jason Hammel, the #4 prospect in the organization, was optioned to minor league camp. Hammel came into camp with a shot at the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but leaves due to a 6.00 ERA that, in large part, was accumulated during a bad inning last week in Clearwater against Philadelphia. Reyes, in his 13th major league season, was a key member of St. Louis' NL Central championship team last season out of the bullpen, where he appeared in 65 games and went 4-2 with a 2.15 ERA. He was among the NL's top ten relievers last year in both ERA and opponent's batting average (.177) before suffering the injury in the final game of the season. Reyes was previously with the Rays in camp in 2004, and has pitched to a 3.62 career ERA with the Brewers, Orioles, Dodgers, Pirates, Yankees, and Cardinals.  

Short Hops-Manager Joe Maddon affirmed Scott Kazmir's place in the rotation despite two straight poor outings...Rays all-purpose advisor Don Zimmer will be a guest on the Bay News 9 "Sports Connection" show at 11pm today.

Pitching Matchup:

RH Brandon Duckworth

RH Edwin Jackson

Breakdown

The Rays send Edwin Jackson to the mound today against Pittsburgh in St. Pete. Jackson, who had dominated the Reds and Blue Jays through five shutout innings in two games, was rocked in his last outing, when he gave up six earned runs on five hits over 3.1 innings against Detroit, while also walking three. His place on the pitching staff is still unclear, although his bad performance increases the likelihood that Doug Waechter has locked up a rotation spot. He still might get into the rotation if Joe Maddon decides that the team needs a lefty in the bullpen and puts Mark Hendrickson there. Today and tomorrow, when Hendrickson gets the ball, will be two important games in determining next year's rotation. The Pirates, meanwhile, counter with non-roster invitee and former Phillieand Astro Brandon Duckworth.

Upcoming Games

Tomorrow-at Boston in Ft. Myers (Hendrickson)

Wednesday-OFF

Thursday-vs. Blue Jays in St. Pete; 7:05 (TBA)

14 Days to Opening Day

21 Days until the Home Opener

GO RAYS!!!!!!

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