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Upton Homers Twice as Rays Lose to Marlins 8-5

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The winning streak is over, but the big news from the game today was the performance by B.J. Upton.  Upton went three for three with two opposite field home runs, including one that (per Jayson Stark), "...Rays people think is the longest opposite-field HR ever hit by a RH hitter in Port Charlotte."  Stark also notes that this is the first time Upton has homered twice in a game since July of 2007 (Correction: BJ homered twice in Game 4 of the 2008 ALDS, h/t vincesucks).  I'm trying not to get too excited since it is just spring training, but he hit his home runs off of Ricky Nolasco (projected 3.75 FIP for 2010) and Andrew Miller (projected 4.30 FIP for 2010).  For all of us hoping for a BJ breakout this season, it's definitely an encouraging sight.

Outside of the Upton show, there weren't too many noteworthy performances by the Rays.  Willy Aybar hit a home run in the ninth inning (apparently the wind helped, but still nice to see) and Carlos Pena has yet to record a spring training hit.  On the pitching side, Garza got through five innings, walking two and striking out four.  He allowed two runs and three hits and had a five-to-six ground-out/fly-out ratio.  Nothing spectacular, but it was a solid performance.

Balfour looked less than impressive, allowing four hits and walking one over two-thirds of an inning.  He has yet to gain consistency this spring, but it is still early so no need to worry yet.  Again, it's still March.  We're not even half-way done with spring training.

Also, per Marc Topkin, the Rays cut three more players from camp today, reassigning R.J. Swindle, Jason Cromer, and Craig Albernaz to minor-league camp.  Farewell sweet Swindle; you'll always have a place in our hearts.