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Game Preview: Thursday (4/6) at Baltimore

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RAYS (0-2) at Baltimore (2-0)
7:05; Oriole Park at Camden Yards
FSN Florida/RAYS Radio; 1250 AM WHNZ

Baltimore 16, RAYS 6

Pitching Matchup:

LH Mark Hendrickson

RH Kris Benson

Upcoming Games

Tomorrow-at Toronto, 7:07 (Fossum)

Saturday-at Toronto, 1:07 (Waechter)

Sunday-at Toronto, 1:07 (Kazmir)

4 Days to the Home Opener

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RAYS (0-2) at Baltimore (2-0)
7:05; Oriole Park at Camden Yards
FSN Florida/RAYS Radio; 1250 AM WHNZ

Baltimore 16, RAYS 6

Baltimore-The Orioles rode five, six, and four run innings and chewed up Rays starter Seth McClung in his season debut to take the second game of the Rays' season-opening series in Baltimore by a 16-6 final. Jay Gibbons doubled twice and homered to lead the Baltimore offense, which was efficient in bringing home 16 runners on 16 hits. Ramon Hernandez, Javy Lopez, Kevin Millar, Miguel Tejada, and Brian Roberts all had two hits for the O's, while Melvin Mora and Nick Markakis connected for home runs against the Rays' bullpen, with Markakis delivering his first career four bagger and Mora's shot a decisive three run blast.

On the mound, Rays starter Seth McClung went 3+ innings, giving up seven runs on five hits, walking seven and striking out three, though showed flashes of brilliance with his breaking balls at times. And to his credit, there were a couple of balls sprinkled around the outfield that Damon Hollins didn't have the range to get that a major league outfielder probably should have. But come on, seven walks are seven walks. He threw 95 pitches without even getting 10 outs, while facing 21 total batters. He also threw only 47 of those pitches for strikes. It didn't get much better when the game was turned over to the bullpen, as Jesus Colome was charged with an earned run after he left due to injury, throwing just four pitches before being removed. Further, new acquisition Brian Meadows, picked up after being dropped from Pirates camp, showed why he was dropped in giving up seven runs, four earned, on eight hits over 1.2 innings, giving up two home runs. Trais Harper and Ruddy Lugo were able to come on and throw two scoreless frames before Dan Miceli capped the crappy day off by giving up a solo home run.

The Rays' hitters, meanwhile, had an absolutely fantastic day, as only Russell Branyan  was unable to find his way on base during the day. Jorge Cantu went 2 for 4 with a solo home run, and had another RBI from earlier in the game, while Carl Crawford and Ty Wigginton also had two hits in the 13 hit Devil Ray day, with one of Wigginton's hits being a two base hit. Damon Hollins, however, topped them both, feasting off of the left hander Bedard in going 3 for 4. Travis Lee, Toby Hall, and Josh Paul each doubled in the losing effort. For some reason, nearly 30,000 less fans came out to Camden Yards Wednesday than on the rainy season opening day, though that may have had something to do with temperatures under 50 degrees. Or, they could have smelled the stink coming from the ballpark and avoided the place. Unfortunately, the stink was that of the Rays.

3 Up
2B Jorge Cantu: 2-4, HR, RS, 2 RBI
3B Aubrey Huff: 1-2, 2 RS, 2 BB
RP Ruddy Lugo: 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, K

3 Down
SP Seth McClung: 3+ IP, 7 R, 5 H, 7 BB
RP Brian Meadows: 1.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 2 HR
1B Travis Lee: 1-5, K, 6 LOB

Rays Reads

-The Rays made a few roster moves on only the third day of the regular season Wednesday, claiming RHP Scott Dunn off of waivers from Anaheim and optioning him to AAA Durham. A 10th round pick in the 1999 MLB entry draft, Dunn has played the last seven years as a minor league journeyman, going through the Cincinnati, Chicago, and Anaheim organizations before being claimed by the Rays. He had a brief three game stint in the major leagues in 2004, but other than that, has spent his entire career in the minors, where he is 44-31 lifetime with a 3.67 ERA and a K:BB a shade off of 2:1. He has also thrown 50 wild pitches in his minors career, though he does have a nice 9.71 K/9 ratio. I really can't see how this acquisition helps us, or even Durham much, but I'm assuming Joe Maddon is high on him from his Angels days. Still, it is odd for the Rays to claim Dunn when better options like Steve Andrade, who has a 2.15 career ERA in the minors and a 13.2 K/9 ratio, exist. Oh well, perhaps Dunn will surprise me, but right now, I'm not putting money on it.

To make room for Dunn and Russell Branyan, brought up yesterday to take the place of Luis Ordaz, who was DL'd, C Kevin Cash and RP Carlos Hines were DFA'd, and if the Rays don't trade or release either within the next 10 days, and they pass through waivers, they will be back in the organization, just not on the 40 man roster.

-For those interested in a pretty good roundup of all that will be new at Tropicana Field, I'd suggest checking out this article, which sums it up in pretty good detail. A complete list of new offseason renovations and policies can be found here.

Short Hops-Tim Corcoran cleared waivers in order to complete his removal from the 40 man roster, and will be optioned to Durham...Chad Harville, outrighted to Durham last week, accepted his assignment and will report to the Bulls this week...Manager Joe Maddon says recent call up Branyan will start today against O's starter Kris Benson due to his 4 for 8 line against the right-hander all-time...Carl Crawford was moved back to the leadoff spot today (ugh) while Nick Green batted eighth in the six hole to compensate for the loss of Rays starting SS Julio Lugo, and his backup, Luis Ordaz...Speaking of Lugo, he, of course, did not start in Wednesday's game and the extent of his oblique injury is not currently known, though we should find out today whether he will be placed on the Disabled List due to his injury...And even if Lugo does get DL'd, don't expect Rays top shortstop prospect B.J. Upton to get called up, as Maddon directly refuted the possibility when it was posed to him in a question...Rays reliever Jesus Colome left Wednesday's game after just four pitches due to tightness in his right shoulder, and the extent of his injury was not known; he will be listed as day to day.

Minor League Minute

The minor league season kicks off across the country today, as minor league teams from the PCL to the SALLY League open their seasons today to kick off a five month regular season, and that includes the Rays' minor league affiliates. In this space everyday, I will sift through the box score and provide you with the key performances of our future stars, as well as delivering any necessary news and notes that need to come across. For now, here are the Rays affiliates' scheduled games for tonight, and the probable pitchers.

AAA Durham-at Norfolk, 7:15 ET (Hammel)
AA Montgomery-vs Tennessee, 8:05 ET (Sonnanstine)
A+ Visalia-at San Jose, 10:00 ET (Feldkamp)
A- Southwest Michigan-at Lansing, 8:05 ET (Wlodarczyk)

Check back tomorrow for the low down on how our affiliates did on opening day.

Pitching Matchup:

LH Mark Hendrickson

RH Kris Benson

Breakdown

-The Rays attempt to salvage the final game of this series and walk away with at least 1/3 of their dignity today in Baltimore, and what better way to accomplish that task then by sending out Mark Hendrickson to pitch? And that is indeed what we will do, as Lurch makes his first start of the 2006 season after an 11-8 2005 campaign that reeked of yet another example of win-loss record not mattering at all. He pitched to a 5.9 ERA for the year, and had a K:BB of less than two, while giving up 24 home runs, yet still did not lose a start from late July to his last start of the season, a complete game loss to these here Orioles on October 1st. Hendrickson showed no better results in spring training, where he made three starts and pitched 14 innings, to a 5.14 ERA. Still, this is now, and Hendrickson is looking to turn a fresh page and climb back to mediocrity this season, though he will have an uphill climb tonight, as the O's have faced him more than any other team, in terms of games and innings pitched, and several of them have good track records against him with the bat, witness...

  1. Melvin Mora-35 ABs, 1.096 OPS
  2. Kevin Millar-23 ABs, 1.203 OPS
  3. Javy Lopez-20 ABs, 1.179 OPS
  4. Chris Gomez-16 ABs, .75 OPS
  5. David Newhan-6 ABs, 1.071 OPS
So it will not be easy for Lurch to pitch successfully today against a team so familiar with him, but doing well would give him a great confidence boost to start off the 2006 season.

-Meanwhile, the O's trot out RHP Kris Benson to the mound. Benson will be making his first regular season start in an Oriole uniform since coming over from New York in the offseason in the Jorge Julio trade. The ex-Pirate has never faced the Rays. It will also to see if Benson has any lingering effects from the divorce saga that his supermodel wife put him through. Geez, I don't think I've ever seen two people that have gone from ...happily ever after to "irreconcilable differences" and back to ...happily ever after so fast. Anyways, statistically, Benson wasn't too bad last year, though granted, he did play in Shea Stadium and the National League. He was 10-8 with a 4.13 ERA last season for New York, giving up 24 home runs with a K:BB just a tad off of 2:1 (hrm, sounds similar to his starting counterpart). He made six starts and pitched 22.1 innings in spring training for the Mets, limiting his home run total to two while striking out nearly 2.5 times as many hitters as he walked. Only two Rays have really had much success against Benson from the National League. They include Russell Branyan, who as I mentioned earlier was 4 for 8 against Benson, and Julio Lugo, who had a 1.214 career OPS against Benson in 14 ABs from when both were in the NL Central. So, essentially, the Rays batter who has faced Benson the most and has had a lot of good experience with him is DL'd. And the same thing was true with Erik Bedard yesterday. Man, I am missing Julio Lugo more than I thought I would, hurry back!

The Bottom Line

-The bottom line is...I don't feel too good about this game, or this series. The Rays have taken what was once a respectable, even competition, and have lost all but six of the last 23 in allowing the black and blue to take a 62-70 overall lead in the series. They are already well on their way to a worse mark than the 6-12 record they put up against Baltimore last year, and are 28-38 overall at Camden Yards. Besides, our best hitter with the most experience against Benson (Lugo) is out, we only have one hitter who we know can hit Benson, and this is his first start against the Rays. Whereas, on the other hand, the Orioles are very familiar with Hendrickson and have several hitters who can hit against him. Some things are better left not said, but my motto going into this one is 'Hope for the Best, but Prepare for the Worst'.

Upcoming Games

Tomorrow-at Toronto, 7:07 (Fossum)

Saturday-at Toronto, 1:07 (Waechter)

Sunday-at Toronto, 1:07 (Kazmir)

4 Days to the Home Opener

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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