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Tampa Bay Rays news and links: Rays drop their 2016 TV debut 6-5 to the Tigers

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But hey, those uniforms look good on the screen!

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday marked the Rays 2016 TV debut. It was a game where the Rays rested most of the projected starters, giving us a chance to check out the guys fighting for that 25th spot on the team (and who might be first in line to get that emergency call from Durham).

It’s incredibly early in the Spring, but the Rays offense has looked really promising so far. Desmond Jennings got the hit show going in the 1st inning, with his 4th 2B of the season. This Spring, Jennings has come to hit doubles and chew bubblegum, and he’s all out of bubblegum (all 4 of DJ's hits have been 2B).

A single from Nick Franklin and a double from Taylor Motter got the Rays on the board in the 2nd. The offense wasn’t quite done yet, as big Kyle Roller came to the plate. He got the green light on 3-0 and again on 3-1 and launched an opposite field HR to give the Rays an early 3-0 lead.

Starting the day for the Rays was the always smiley Erasmo Ramirez. In the first inning, Erasmo showed some of his excellent location changing and pitch mixing skills, getting a 1-2-3 inning against Ian Kinselr, Justin Upton, and Miguel Cabrera.

The 2nd inning would not go as well, as Ramirez gave up two doubles, three singles, and four runs (all earned). Erasmo would briefly come back out in the 3rd, giving up a hit to Cabrera, a Wild Pitch to advance him to 2nd, and then a hit to V-Mart. That would be the end of Erasmo's day.

Matt Andriese would come in and get a fly ball (scoring Cabrera on the sacrifice) and a double play to end the inning with just one run scored. Andriese looked really sharp in the game, giving up only weak contact, 1 hit, 2 walks, and 3 Ks in his 3 innings of work.

In the 4th inning, another RBI hit from the big man Roller (plating Franklin after his 2nd hit of the game) and a seeing-eye hit between 3rd and short by Tim Beckham would tie the game 5-5.

Jacob Faria came in the 6th, cutting right through the Tigers with a 6 pitch inning, half of those coming on a strikeout swinging on Wynton Bernard. Faria looked fantastic, seemingly in perfect command of all of his pitches. Well, almost all of them, as he did leave one fastball right over the plate for his only real mistake. John Mayberry Jr would make him pay.

Jamie Shultz pitched the 8th, giving up a leadoff walk, but got some nifty glove work from Patrick Leonard at 3rd.

Shultz would then use a slick move to 1st to help himself out, picking off Stephen Moya.

That HR would end up being the deciding blow. The Rays continued to hit the ball well, getting doubles from Jaff Decker and Hank Conger, and a dazzling triple from Juniel Querecuto.

Unfortunately, the team was unable to drive them home, and finished the day just 4-17 with runners in scoring position. Already in mid-season LOB form!

The actual results though are not even close to as important as the process. The Rays so far are showing some really encouraging signs, especially with the level of aggressiveness at the plate.

Through the team’s first 7 games, the Rays have hit 31 extra base hits, and have collected 9 hits or more in 6 of those games. It’s a long way to go, but this has been a pretty fun start for the club’s 2016.

Rays Radio has the postgame covered:

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Links!

- Marc Topkin notes that Steve Souza completed his 5th full day of batting practice, and should make his Spring debut later today.

- Marc Topkin also dove into the work in progress that is building the Rays line-ups. The Rays have quite a few options for line-up construction, which will almost certainly be a fun debate all year long.

- Bryan Grosnick at Baseball Prospectus analyzed some recent transactions, including the monumental (and awesome) move by the Rays to bring back the Great Pumpkin Dan Johnson.

- John Marsh of The Hardball Times asks the question: how many prospects is your All-Star player worth?

- Craig Edwards over at Fangraphs projects the Rays to have the lowest opening day payroll.

- Owen Watson (also at Fangraphs) explores some factors behind ticket prices, such as the team winning or getting a new stadium.