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What you should know about new Rays slugger Lucas Duda

Slugger Lucas Duda will add some (more) power to the Rays lineup.

John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS

Slugger Lucas Duda will add some (more) power to the Rays lineup.

The MLB trade deadline is a few days away, but the Rays aren't procrastinating. Earlier today, they swung a deal for the Mets' Lucas Duda, sending minor league right-hander Drew Smith to New York. The 31-year-old slugger has a .246 average, .347 on-base percentage and .532 slugging percentage in 291 plate appearances this year. Here's some more information about the left-handed-hitting, right-handed-throwing Duda.

He's a three-true-outcomes hitter. In 2017, batters are striking out more than ever, hitting more home runs than ever and walking — well, not quite more than ever, but more than they used to. Duda exemplifies these recent trends in the game: Of his 2,895 career plate appearances, 1,140 (39.4 percent) have ended in one of the three true outcomes. That's held true this season, as he's walloped 27 home runs, taken 37 walks and gone down on strikes 73 times in his 291 trips to the dish. …

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Rays add a bat, too, acquiring Lucas Duda from Mets

The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

AP photo

The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

The Rays made another big move today, acquiring 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

Duda, 31, is a lefty slugger who will take over as the Rays primary DH against right-handers, with Corey Dickerson now playing most of the time in the outfield.

To get Duda, the Rays gave up minor-league RHP Drew Smith, who they got from the Tigers for OF Mikie Mahtook.

Duda, 31, is batting .246 with an .879 OPS for the Mets with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 75 games. He is a free agent after this season.

Smith, acquired in April to compete the off-season deal, appeared at Class A, AA and AAA for the Rays. His overall stats, including in the Tigers organization, are 1-2, 1.60 ERA with 7 saves in 31 appearances.

To make room for Duda (DOO-da) on the 40-man roster, and for newly acquired LHP Dan Jennings on the active roster, the Rays before game time DFA'd OF Shane Peterson.

They will have to make two more moves on Friday to add Duda and RHP Austin Pruitt.

 

 

 

 

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For starters: Rays at Yankees, in a pretty big series

Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.

The Rays open a challenging road trip tonight in New York, the first of four games against the wild-card leading Yankees.

RHP Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays, facing veteran Yankees LHP CC Sabathia.

The Rays earlier today made a move to boost their bullpen, acquiring LHP Dan Jennings in trade from the White Sox. Jennings is expected to be here tonight.

Lineups when available.

The Rays go into play tonight 1-1/2 games behind the wild-card leading Yankees and 2-1/2 behind the AL East-leading Red Sox.

 

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What you should know about new Rays reliever Dan Jennings

Artsy, no?

Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Artsy, no?

The Rays have finally brought in a reliever — and this one isn't a DFA'd castoff. White Sox left-hander Dan Jennings will come to Tampa Bay, while first base prospect Casey Gillaspie heads to Chicago. The 30-year-old reliever has a lifetime ERA of 2.86 in 261-1/3 innings, recording one save and 27 holds in 35 opportunities. Here are some more things to know about the newest Ray.

He gets a lot of weak grounders. Jennings doesn't have a great strikeout rate (19.0 percent) or walk rate (10.2 percent), but he keeps the ball on the ground — since he debuted in 2012, his 54.7 percent ground ball rate ranks 22nd among relievers. And they aren't squaring the ball up, either: He's given up an exit velocity of 86.0 mph, which puts him 36th in the majors. For a guy who pitches one inning per game, that'll suffice. …

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Rays get relief help, acquire LHP Dan Jennings from White Sox

Dan Jennings is 3-1, 3.45 in 48 games this season for the White Sox.

Getty Images

Dan Jennings is 3-1, 3.45 in 48 games this season for the White Sox.

The Rays got the relief help they were looking for, acquiring LHP Dan Jennings from the White Sox for prospect 1B Casey Gillaspie.

Jennings, 30, is 3-1, 3.45 in 48 games this season for the White Sox, and is tough on lefty hitters, holding them a .169 average and .497 OPS. He was better last season, posting a 4-3, 2.08 overall record.

Gillaspie was the Rays top pick in the 2014 draft and had a solid 2016 season in getting to Triple-A, but has not followed up well, hitting .227 with 9 homers and 44 RBIs this season.

Jennings is expected to join the Rays in New York for tonight's game, so a 25-man roster move will have to be made as well. Jennings is arbitration eligible and under team control through the 2019 season.

Among reasons the Rays like Jennings:

* He avoids hard contact, allowing only one extra-base hit this season to a lefty batter;

* He keeps the ball on the ground, with a ground ball rate of 58.5 pct that is sixth best in the American League (minimum 40 innings)

* He is durable, his 48 appearances the most of any AL lefty and second overall in the AL.

* Reports show that Jennngs' fastball and slider have been improving as the season goes. …

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Rays series preview: Who are the Yankees?

As outfielder Aaron Judge, right, has struggled in the second half, shortstop Didi Gregorius, middle, has picked up the slack.

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

As outfielder Aaron Judge, right, has struggled in the second half, shortstop Didi Gregorius, middle, has picked up the slack.

To make the playoffs for the first time since 2013, the Rays will have to beat a lot of other contenders. Their eight-game road trip pits them against two of the AL's strongest teams, starting with the Yankees. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

Record: 53-46

Record vs. Rays: 5-4

Record since last facing Rays: 28-30

Despite Aaron Judge's record-breaking rookie year, the Yankees haven't fared too well in the standings. That might not be their fault: Several statistical models — such as FanGraphs' BaseRuns and Baseball Prospectus' third-order winning percentage — think they've been the unluckiest team in MLB. Still, the results are what count come October, and while the newly acquired relievers should strengthen a bullpen that leads the majors in blown saves, they might need another piece. Athletics ace Sonny Gray would certainly help the cause, if New York is willing to pony up the prospects to acquire him. …

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Rays morning after: Longoria's bat coming to life

Evan Longoria’s two-run homer Wednesday was the game-tilting blow.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Evan Longoria’s two-run homer Wednesday was the game-tilting blow.

Evan Longoria is batting .363 since July 4 with at least one hit in 16 of his last 18 games. That’s good news for the Rays, who need another bat to pick up the slack created by the slumping Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson.

Longoria’s two-run homer Wednesday was the game-tilting blow that sparked the Rays to a 5-1 victory against the Orioles.

“I think it’s a safe bet to know that Evan Longoria is going to rise up these final two months here,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s one of the few who’s been here and won. He’s one of the few guys on this team that has actually been in playoff atmosphere. Longo, he’s going to do his part. There’s no doubt about that.”

Longoria’s average has increased every month this season. He hit .208 in April, .272 in May, .283 in June and now .346 in July.

“I feel like I’ve always been a better second half player,” Longoria said. “April and May I’m not very good typically numbers-wise. I guess if there’s a time to heat up it’s the second half. I just hope to continue rolling and keep swinging the bat well.”  …

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For starters: Cobb on the hill against Orioles

Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game.

1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson return to the lineup this afternoon for the finale of this three-game series with the Orioles and this six-game homestand.

The Rays snapped a five-game losing streak Tuesday night with slumping Dickerson and Morrison having the night off against Orioles LHP Wade Miley.

Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game, albeit without allowing the tying two-run homer in the ninth.

The Rays begin the day 2.5 games behind the first place Red Sox and one game out of the second Wild Card spot.

After today the Rays play four games at Yankee Stadium and four in Houston against the Astros.

Here are the lineups:

 

ORIOLES

Jones CF

Machado 3B

Schoop 2B

Davis 1B

Trumbo DH

Mancini LF

Smith RF

Joseph C

Tejada SS

Jimenez RHP (4-6, 7.19)

 

RAYS

Smith CF

Dickerson LF

Longoria 3B

Morrison 1B

Souza RF

Miller DH

Ramos C

Beckham 2B

Hechavarria SS

 

Cobb RHP (8-6, 3.57)

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Odorizzi on disabled list with lower back strain

Jake Odorizzi was placed on the 10-day disabled list this morning.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Jake Odorizzi was placed on the 10-day disabled list this morning.

The reason for RHP Jake Odorizzi’s struggles this season might rest with the left side of his lower back. An MRI taken this week revealed nothing but a strain, but it is something Odorizzi said he’s been dealing with since spring training and it’s not improving.

So Odorizzi was placed on the 10-day disabled list this morning and RHP Andrew Kittredge was recalled from Durham.

“It’s been something I’ve been dealing with, managing, pitching though all season,” Odorizzi said. “So, it got to the point where I need to get back to being 100 percent healthy and be ready to go for the last two months. It’s been there. We’ve been managing it, dealing with, having treatment on it.”

The Rays did not announce who will take Odorizzi’s start Friday at Yankee Stadium but RHP Austin Pruitt was scratched from his Tuesday start with the Bulls. …

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Rays morning after: Beckham's homer the big hit team needed

Tim Beckham jumps into right fielder Steven Souza Jr.'s arms after his three-run home run in the second inning.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tim Beckham jumps into right fielder Steven Souza Jr.'s arms after his three-run home run in the second inning.

The Rays snapped their five-game losing streak Tuesday with 5-4 win against the Orioles that looked at first to be a laugher then turned into a nail-bitter with closer Alex Colome allowing two base runners in the ninth.

“It doesn’t matter how we got the win. We got the win,” 2B Tim Beckham said. “The object is to play in October.”

Beckham made a throwing error to start the ninth that made the inning interesting. He also crushed his 12th home run of the year in the second inning with two runners on to give the Rays a 5-0 lead.

“For him to be able to give us some separation, give (winning pitcher) Jake (Faria)a little breathing room, a little confidence going forward,” 3B Evan Longoria said. “I think he made all the difference.”

It was Beckham’s first home run since July 4.

It was also that big hit that manager Kevin Cash spoke about after Monday’s loss, the one that eluded he offense during the five-game losing streak.

The Rays sent eight batters to the plate that inning against Orioles LHP Wade Miley. Steven Souza, Brad Miller, Adeiny Hechavarria and Mallex Smith all singled. Smith’s hit drove in Souza. Jesus Ssucre made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly.  …

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For starters: Slumping LoMo, Dickerson not in Rays lineup tonight vs LHP

Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.

1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson, two of the main slumpers in the Rays lineup, are not in tonight's lineup with the Orioles throwing LHP Wade Miley.

Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand. Dickerson is 3-for-15.

The Rays, in the throes of a five-game losing streak, are batting .188 during the four losses at the Trop, including .128 with runners in scoring position.

2B Tim Beckham is batting leadoff. Peter Bourjous is in centerfield, moving Mallex Smith to left, and Trevor Plouffe gets the start tonight at first.

Rays rookie RHP Jacob Faria, making his ninth big league start, is charged with stopping the slide. He's also looking to bounce back from his first big loss during the game that began the losing streak.

Despite the losing streak, the Rays remain only 3.5 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. They did, however, fall out of a Wild Card spot. The Rays are 1.5 games behind the Wild Card-leading Yankees and a game back of the Royals, who hold the second spot.

Here are the lineups:

 

ORIOLES

Jones CF

Machado 3B

Schoop 2B

Trumbo DH

Mancini 1B

Smith LF

Castillo C

Tejada SS

Rickard RF

Miley LHP (4-8, 5.58)

 

RAYS

Beckham 2B

Bourjos CF

Longoria 3B

Souza RF

Plouffe 1B

Miller DH

Hechavarria SS …

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Orioles Buck Showalter's Trop takedown includes bullpen mounds, bathroom options, bladder problems

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has never been a fan of Tropicana Field.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2016)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has never been a fan of Tropicana Field.

UPDATE, 6:21:  Showalter didn't have much to add during his pre-game media session today, noting how old the Trop, which opened in 1990, is - older then Camden Yards - and complimenting the Rays for the work they have done on it.

"They do a good job with a challenging facility,'' he said. "I can't imagine anything else - if there was something else, they would do it.''

He did again mention the safety issue of having the bullpen mounds on the field, suggesting the players association get involved, and that he hopes all fields eliminate them. He also said some stadiums needs more padding along walls. that warning tracks need to be standardized and spring faciities made safer.

Then he asked what the latest was on a new stadium for the Rays.

DEVELOPING: Orioles manager Buck Showalter has never been a fan of the Trop, and after Monday's 5-0 win he — with some prodding from O's TV man Gary Thorne — took a few more shots during their MASN interview, specifically about the location of the bullpen mounds, and the lack of bathroom facilities.

Also, that he'd like to take at least a shovel to it and make a few renovations. …

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Rays morning after: The bats have disappeared

Center fielder Mallex Smith reacts after striking out swinging in the seventh inning.

[WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]

Center fielder Mallex Smith reacts after striking out swinging in the seventh inning.

Orioles RF Joey Rickard’s bunt up the first base line during the ninth inning Monday hit a piece of clay in foul territory and rolled back into fair territory for a single.

Steven Souza Jr., didn’t see that from where he was standing in the outfield. Upon learning the news after Rays’ 5-0 loss, he said, “That sums up how things have been going for us lately.”

Rickard would come around to score the second of the three Baltimore runs that inning as the Orioles broke open a close game.

While Rickard’s bunt highlighted how the Rays are not catching any breaks during this five-game losing streak, they are also not hitting.

The batting average of the core players in the starting lineup is .188 through the first four games of this homestand.

Logan Morrison is hitless in 12 at-bats.

 

Here are the others:

Corey Dickerson 3-for-15

Souza 3-for-11

Evan Longoria 4-for-16

Brad Miller 3-for-13

Tim Beckham 1-for-10

Mallex Smith 4-for-15

Adeiny Hechavarria 3-for-14

Wilson Ramos 1-for-11

 

Also, the Rays are hitting .128 (5-for-39) with runners in scoring position during the five-game losing streak.  …

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Rays' Evan Longoria: "We have all the belief in the world in here"

The weekend sweep by Texas and four-game overall losing streak has some Rays fans - based on their tweets and emails - questioning the team's ability to make the playoffs and suggesting they might as well trade away their key parts.

Obviously that's not the feeling in the clubhouse today, where the veteran Rays remain confident the team - which goes into play tonight tied for the second AL wild-card spot - has what it takes.

"We have all the belief in the world in here that things will come together,'' 3B Evan Longoria said. "We'll win a game again. I promise you that, we'll win another one.''

Citing the team's productive offense, quality starting pitching, improving bullpen and efforts to make additions, Longoria said the Rays have the elements to make the playoffs.

"I've done my fair share of begging and pleading with the fans to stay on board with us over the years,'' Longoria said.

"At this point you either believe or you don't believe and the guys in this clubhouse believe. And that to me is really what I'm here for, to win with this group of guys and be excited about coming to the ballpark every day.''

 

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What are the odds the Rays trade for Brad Hand or Pat Neshek?

Padres left-hander Brad Hand has excelled in his two years with the team.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Padres left-hander Brad Hand has excelled in his two years with the team.

In each of the last three seasons, the Rays have been sellers at the trade deadline. They shipped away David Price in 2014, got rid of David DeJesus and Kevin Jepsen in 2015 and flipped Matt Moore, Steve Pearce and Brandon Guyer in 2016.

This year, though, things look to be different. Tampa Bay is 51-48, in position to grab a Wild Card spot and only 3.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. The team already added one veteran last month (shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria) and picked up another one this weekend (reliever Sergio Romo).

With a week to go until the deadline, the Rays might not be done dealing, either. Sports betting website MyTopSportsbooks gives them 8/1 odds of acquiring Padres reliever Brad Hand, as well as 8/1 odds of reeling in Phillies reliever Pat Neshek.

Now, these odds don't really have any practical use — it doesn't seem you can gamble on them through MyTopSportsbooks, or through the various sports betting sites they review. It's more of a diversion, like slapping odds on the possible Home Run Derby winners or the contenders to start the All-Star Game. …

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