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Former Rays/current Cubs manager Joe Maddon featured on NBC Sunday news show

Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.

COURTESY NBC

Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.

Former Rays and current Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be featured on this week's "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" show at 7 p.m. on NBC, the Harry Smith interview covering not just Maddon's on-field accomplishments but his extensive efforts to help his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.Full Story

For starters: Souza returns to lineup

The Rays will try to rebound tonight from Friday’s 10-inning 4-3 loss where RHP Alex Cobb allowed the tying home in the ninth during the second game of this three-game set with the Rangers.

Chris Archer (7-5, 3.91) faces Andrew Cashner (4-8, 3.58) in a matchup of right-handers.

RF Steven Souza Jr., returns to the lineup after giving his left hip one more day of rest. Or, almost one day since he pinched hit in the 10th inning and reached on a single.

Tonight is also DJ Kitty onesie night for the first 15,000 through the gates. RHP Erasmo Ramirez was already spotted this afternoon wearing one on the field.

The Rays (51-46) begin the day tied with the Yankees for the lead in the AL wild Card standings and 3.5 back of the first Red Sox.

Here are the lineups:

 

RANGERS

Choo RF

Andrus SS

Mazara LF

Beltre 3B

Napoli DH

Odor 2B

Lucroy C

Gomes CF

Gallo 1B

Cashner RHP

 

RAYS

Souza RF

Dickerson LF

Longoria DH

Morrison 1B

Ramos C

Miller DH

Beckham 2B

Smith CF

Hechavarria SS

 

Archer RHP

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Rays morning after: Bats provided some thunder against Darvish

As tough as Friday’s 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Rangers was – and it was tough – the Rays could find some solace in the fact they managed to hit three home runs off RHP Yu Darvish on a night when the Rangers’ ace had electric stuff.

That’s what the Rays hitters were saying as they returned to the dugout after striking out 12 times against Darvish.

But, Brad Miller, Corey Dickerson and Mallex Smith each hit solo home runs to build a 3-1 lead after eight innings.

“We didn’t get a ton,” manager Kevin Cash said, “but we got solo home runs and that was good to see but there’s no way around it that’s a very, very tough loss.”

Miller crushed one off the batters’ eye in right-centerfield in the fourth, just to the right off the touch tank.

It was Miller’s fourth homer of the season and second in as many home games and tied the score at 1-1. His two-run, eighth-inning homer provided the winning runs in a 5-3 victory against the Red Sox during the final game before the All-Star Break.

In the sixth, Dickerson put the Rays ahead 2-1 with a leadoff homer to center. It was Dickerson’s 18th homer of the year but first since June 24 against the Orioles.  …

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For starters: Souza not in lineup vs. Rangers

The Rays, fresh off a 4-2 West Coast trip, begin six-game, two-team homestand tonight with the first of three against the Rangers.

It will be a matchup of right-handers: Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.59) vs. Yu Darvish (6-8, 3.45).

RF Steven Souza Jr., went through running drills under the watchful eyes of the training staff and Kevin Cash. They want to see how his left hip feels before releasing the lineup. After consulting with the training staff and Cash, Souza is not in the lineup.

Also, Kevin Kiermaier (hip) and Daniel Robertson (neck) are working out before batting practice. Kiermaier was shagging fly balls in centerfield while Robertson was taking grounders at second.

The Rays (51-45) begin the night 2.5 games behind the first place Red Sox in the AL East and with a one-game lead over the Yankees in the Wild Card standings.

 

Here are the lineups:

 

RANGERS

Choo RF

Andrus SS

Mazara LF

Beltre 3B

Napoli DH

Odor 2B

Lucroy C

Gomes CF

Gallo 1B

Darvish RHP

 

RAYS

Smith CF

Dickerson LF

Longoria 3B

Morrison 1B

Ramos C

Miller DH

Beckham 2B

Peterson RF

Hechavarria SS

 

Cobb RHP

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Remember that famous Fred McGriff TV commercial? He's back, in a parody

Fred McGriff in his new commercial for Chassis, a men's grooming line, that looks a lot like his old one.

Courtesy Stark White Entertainment

Fred McGriff in his new commercial for Chassis, a men's grooming line, that looks a lot like his old one.

If you've ever seen Fred McGriff's TV commerical for Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video it will always be fresh in your mind, with the deadpan delivery and famously ill-fitting cap.

Now the former Ray and Tampa native, with help from ESPN's Kenny Mayne, is back in a bit of a parody as a commercial for Chassis men's grooming products - powder, cream and gel - designed, per the company press release, to handle sweat, odor, and chafing "down there."

 

Here is the new video:

 

And here is the original:

 

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Rays series preview: Who are the Rangers?

Starter Tyson Ross, left, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, right, have struggled immensely this season.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Starter Tyson Ross, left, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, right, have struggled immensely this season.

The road trip is done, but the Rays will still face a western team, as they tasks on the Rangers in a three-game series at Tropicana Field. Here's the information you need to know about Texas before the action kicks off.

Record: 45-50, fourth in AL West

While Texas topped the AL West in 2015 and 2016, a three-peat looks unlikely, as the club has hung around .500 this season. During their run atop the division, the Rangers were incredibly fortunate — despite a Pythagorean winning percentage of .508, they went 183-141, thanks in part to a historically great record in one-run games. This season, the luck has dried up, and so have the victories. The team's hitters can run the bases with the best of them, but they haven't produced at the plate, and the bullpen has blown the second-most saves (17) in MLB. With the trade deadline looming, some big-name stars could find themselves on the block.

"The Rangers would like to add a relief piece or two to their roster. They do not want to sell off assets -- and have not engaged with any trade partners -- yet. But the team on the field is making it more and more difficult to hold to that strategy." (Evan Grant, The Dallas Morning News) …

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Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip

Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.

Getty Images

Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.

The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

Souza left Wednesday's game after an awkward first-inning slide left him in pain and with what the team said was a strained hip. X-rays in Oakland were negative, but the Rays said he needed further testing today in St. Petersburg. The concern was elevated because Souza had September surgery on the same hip.

With the good results from the MRI, the Rays say Souza - among the team's most productive players with a .271 average, 20 HRs, 60 RBIs and an .883 OPS - is considered day to day.

Souza posted a similarly positive update on his Twitter account:

"After an uncoordinated slide, it appears that everything looks good! So thankful for all those who prayed for me."

 

 

 

 

 

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Rays morning after: Steven Souza Jr.'s status is a major concern

Steven Souza Jr. strained his left hip in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.

AP photo

Steven Souza Jr. strained his left hip in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.

The Rays will know more about the status of RF Steven Souza Jr. later today after reviewing results of a scheduled MRI and exam of the left hip he strained in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.

"We're actually pretty optimistic that we avoided a major injury,'' Cash said.

Exacerbating their concern is that Souza underwent surgery on that hip in September and spent the off-season working to recover and rehab.

"When it's the same hip that you've fone through this whole process for and you have pain in that hip that I haven't really felt all year long - it's been pretty remarkable how blessed I've been with the hip - it's very scary,' Souza said.

Losing Souza even for 10 days would be a major blow for the Rays, given his strong offensive numbers - .271, 20 HRs, 60 RBIs, .883 OPS - and the key role he plays in their lineup, having just been installed as the primary leadoff hitter. Plus he is a strong defensive player. …

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Steven Souza Jr. leaves Rays game due to left hip strain

Rays OF Steven Souza left today's game after a first-inning slide into second caused a left hip strain.

X-rays were negative and Souza will be further evaluated when the Rays return home.

He had surgery on that hip last September.

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For starters: Rays at A's, coming off a rally, looking for a sweep with a new look

UPDATE, 2:27: Tuesday's win was the Rays fifth when trailing after eight innings, most in the AL. Last year, they were 0-83 when trailing after eight. ... Adeiny Hechavarria's single that tied the score was the Rays fourth game-tying hit this season with two outs in the ninth. Before the season, per Rays research, their last one before this season came in June 2012, by Brooks Conrad in Philadelphia.

UPDATE, 2:15: The new look to the lineup will be the new norm for now, as Cash said he likes the Souza-Dickerson combo at the top, and feels Mallex Smith, in a 1-for-18 skid, needs to make some adjustments. Cash also likes the protection Ramos can provide Longoria and Morrison.

Cash also said struggling LHP Blake Snell, who lasted only four innings on Tuesday, will stay in the rotation: "He'll make his next start and he'll pitch well.''

Here is the Rays lineup:

Souza RF,
Dickerson lf,
Longoria 3b,
Morrison DH,
Ramos c,
Miller 2b,
Beckham SS,
Smith cf,
Plouffe 1b,
Faria p

And here is the A's lineup:
Joyce rf
Semien ss
Alonso 1b
K. Davis dh
Lowrie 2b
Maxwell c
Chapman 3b
Brugman cf
R. Davis lf
Gray p …

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Rays morning after: Blake Snell remains resolute he can figure things out

Blake Snell worked only four innings, and needed 85 pitches to get there.

Getty Images

Blake Snell worked only four innings, and needed 85 pitches to get there.

The Rays had so much to be excited about Tuesday, down to their last out as they rallied in a true team effort to a 4-3 win over the A's that pushed them to a season-high seven games over .500 at 51-44.

"Huge,'' said outfielder Steven Souza Jr. "The relentlessness of different guys. I've said it before, but different heroes every night. It's exciting to see those type of things. And that's what championship teams do, they win those type of games.''

But they still had one major concern, as second-year starter Blake Snell came up short again, working only four innings, and needing 85 pitches to get there.

Basically, Snell's results were not any better.

And despite the rough outing, his words were not any different.

"It's the toughest thing I've ever gone through,'' Snell said. "I'm going to battle it. I'm going to figure it out. I know I'm capable. And with all the guys in here, how much they help me every day.
"I can do it. I know I can. I'm just going to keep fighting. I'm going to beat it.'' …

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Rays Kevin Cash ejected for objecting to Steven Souza Jr. strikeout

Rays manager Kevin Cash was ejected from Tuesday's game in the fifth inning for objecting to a called third strike on Steven Souza Jr,

When Cash first came out of the dugout it seemed he was trying to keep Souza from ejected for expressing his opinion to home plate umpire Bill Welke.

But then Cash voiced his own displeasure to Welke and got tossed.

It was the third time this season Cash had been ejected and seventh in 2 1/2 seasons as manager.

It was the second straight night a Ray was tossed as Tim Beckham was ejected Monday for continuing to complain to ump Lance Barrett about a strike three call as he took the field for the next inning.

 

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For starters: Rays at A's, with Snell looking for a breakthrough

UPDATE, 7:59: Cash said it was a planned day off for Smith and Beckham, and noted that it was important to get Bourjos a start. Said he wants to do same with Plouffe. ... Cash said Ramos is good to go, will check with him after game tonight to see if he feels up to playing Wednesday day game.

UPDATE, 6:36: C Wilson Ramos is back in the Rays lineup tonight after sitting out three games as a result of tweaking his left hamstring on Friday. INF Tim Beckham, who was ejected from Monday's game for arguing a called third strike as he took the field the next inning, is not playing.

Here is the Rays lineup:
Dickerson dh,
Souza rf,
Longoria 3b,
Morrison 1b,
Ramos c,
Miller 2b,
Hechavarria ss,
Peterson lf,
Bourjos cf,
Snell p

And here is the A's lineup:

R. Davis RF,
Semien SS,
Healy 1B,
K. Davis LF,
Lowrie DH,
Chapman 3B,
Rosales 2B,
Phegley C,
Brugman CF;
Smith P …

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Rays add to bullpen depth in acquiring Chaz Roe, still seeking impact reliever

The Rays made a move - though not THE impact move they are seeking - to add to their bullpen depth by acquiring RHP Chaz Roe from the Braves.

Roe, 30, will head to Triple-A Durham to give the Rays an experienced option there. He was just activated off the DL (lat strain) and outrighted off the 40-man roster, having pitched in three April games for the Braves.

He pitched previously in the majors for the Diamondbacks, Yankees and Orioles. In parts of five seasons overall, Roe is 7-2, 4.16 over 93 appearances.

The Rays had minimal acquisition cost, announced as cash considerations.

One interesting note about Roe: His grandfather great uncle is of Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski.

The Rays continue to work actively to seek an impact reliever, looking at both pitchers in the final year of their contracts (such as Pittsburgh LHP Tony Watson and Philadelphia RHP Pat Neshek) and some with future control, and thus at a higher acquisition cost (such as Detroit's Justin Wilson and San Francisco's Hunter Strickland).

They are believed to have a long list of candidates they are talking about.

 

 

 

 

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Ex-Rays TV reporter Kelly Nash like you've never seen her before ...

Kelly Nash, with MLB Network co-host Scott Braun, in the Rays DJ Kitty onesie.

@kellynash on Twitter

Kelly Nash, with MLB Network co-host Scott Braun, in the Rays DJ Kitty onesie.

Former Rays TV reporter Kelly Nash, one of the top hosts now on MLB Network, gave a pitch to her old team, sporting the DJ Kitty Onesie that will be given away to the first 15,000 fans at Saturday's game.

Nash, along with Scott Braun, one of her MLB Network co-hosts, sported the onesies - which are complete with tail, hood featuring a cat face, a Rays logo on the front and "DJ Kitty" on the back - during a recent post-show web segment, much to the amusement of analyst Tim Flannery.

Here is a link to the video segment from MLB Network.

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