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Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer

Marc Topkin

Marc Topkin has covered baseball for the Times since 1987 — from the lengthy effort to secure a team, to the awarding of the Tampa Bay franchise in 1995, and through each of the Rays seasons starting in 1998. He has traveled throughout the United States with the team, as well as to Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan, and has covered All-Star Games and the World Series, as well as Super Bowls and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Phone: (727) 893-8801

Email: topkin@tampabay.com

Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays


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  1. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Typical of how bad things have been going for them, those runs came on a night their starting pitching, which had been so strong for so long, faltered badly. Jake Odorizzi put the Rays in a hole they couldn't quite escape in a 7-6 loss to the Mariners on Saturday....

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

    RHP Jake Odorizzi keeps insisting there is a good run coming after going through a serious of small injuries and stretches of inconsistency, but he really hasn't looked like himself all season, with just eight quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer runs) in 21 tries....

  3. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump

    Blog

    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

    Over their last 14 games - since returning from Houston where they won the last three games against the Astros - the Rays have been brutally bad, scoring just 24 runs, hitting .192 overall (86-for-449) and a stunning .098 with runners in scoring position (8-for-82)....

  4. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Chris Archer has made a name for himself on the mound. And at a time when some athletes work to steer clear of any issue with a tint of controversy for fear it could damage their brand, Archer has used that platform to weigh in on some topical social, political and news events....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) in the dugout during the third inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
  5. For starters: Rays vs. Mariners, with another new look

    Blog

    UPDATE, 5:12: Cash said the experiment of having Longoria hit 2nd is over, that they didn't get the "immediate results" they were looking for and he will go back to the No. 3 slot he is more comfortable with. ... Also, Kevin Kiermaier will stay at the top of the order as the primary leadoff hitter. ... Cash said RHP Alex Cobb looked good throwing live batting practice to a couple of minor-leaguers and then more in the bullpen, and they expect him to rejoin the rotation against the Jays next week. ... Cash said RHP Matt Andriese was "fine" after being hit on the left ankle by a ball two pitches into his rehab game Friday, but as a result will need to make two more starts in the minors, which pushs his return back to around Sept. 2....

  6. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Jays game

    The Heater

    RHP Tommy Hunter has been so good emerging as the top set-up man for closer Alex Colome with a dazzling run, but twice in five days he has given up a game-losing homer, Sunday to Cleveland's Austin Jackson and Thursday to Toronto's Justin Smoak.

    Manager Kevin Cash's reconfiguring of the lineup changes the look for most of the hitters, such as moving Evan Longoria up to No. 2, but the bigger benefit should come later in games in better matchups as managers work around alternating right- and left-handed hitters....

  7. Rays morning after: There (really) are still reasons to be optimistic

    Blog

    There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the Rays' chances to get out of their extended skid and make the playoffs, including veteran 3B Evan Longoria's acknowledgement after Thursday's game that the pressures of the race may be getting to them.

    But there - really - are still some reasons to be optimistic, as they are 60-63 and have 39 games left and are only three games, though five teams, from a wild-card spot....

    Trevor Plouffe reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning against Toronto.
  8. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    "He gave us more than enough of an opportunity to win," manager Kevin Cash said. "He's had a handful of games where he's looked like he did tonight. He was dominant. You take one batter of the lineup he kind of had his way with some good hitters."...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the sixth inning of the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, August 12, 2017.
  9. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $15-275; available at Tropicana Field box office, raysbaseball.com; surcharge of up to $5 within five hours of game.

    Promotion: $7.11 upper level seats with coupon from 7-11 stores.

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers...

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.
  10. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The signs of frustration were readily apparent as the Rays trudged toward home Thursday after another game littered with squandered opportunities evolved into another wasted day in the wild-card race with a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

    "You can see it in the dugout, you can see it in the clubhouse. There's not really a way to try and loosen it up," team leader Evan Longoria said....

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter reacts as Justin Smoak circles the bases after hitting a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth.
  11. Kevin Cash: 'We've got to turn it around. ... Time is of the essence'

    Blog

    The question to manager Kevin Cash was about a rematch with the Mariners this weekend at the Trop, but he made clear this afternoon that with his Rays losing nine of their last 12 that they have to treat every game as essential.

    "We've got to turn it around,'' Cash said. "You can only delay it for so long and say there's time, there's time. Time is of the essence. We've got to start playing good baseball games whether we matchup well against that team or not, forget it. We have to play good baseball."...

    "We've got to start playing good baseball games whether we match up well against that team or not," Kevin Cash said.
  12. For starters: Rays at Jays, with Longoria moved to No. 2 spot in order

    Blog

    UPDATE, 3:10: Cash said the change was made primarily for two reasons, to change the look for several of the hitters and to get back to alternating lefty and righty hitters to make it tougher for opposing managers to match up relievers. Cash said he plans to stick with this structure for a while but doesn't consider anything permanent. "I'm trying, we're all trying to find what works,'' he said. Longoria, who has a long-stated preference to hit third, said he was fine with the move. "It  doesn't bother me one bit. I just want us to get going,'' he said. ...CF Kevin Kiermaier (hip, back) will play what could be his final rehab game tonight with the Stone Crabs and rejoin the Rays on Friday. ... RHP Alex Cobb (toe) will throw off the mound again Friday eyeing a return to the rotation next week.

    Here is the Jays lineup, with no Bautista or Pillar:
    Aoki rf
    Donaldson 3b
    Smoak 1b
    Morales dh
    Pearce lf
    Carrerra cf
    Montero c
    Goins ss
    Barney 2b
    Rowley p...

    Evan Longoria was moved from his usual No. 3 spot in the batting order up to second.
  13. Rays morning after: 5 mistakes that led to loss to Blue Jays

    Blog

    We've already documented elsewhere what the Rays didn't do, how they failed to take advantage of a prime opportunity to win Wednesday's game, getting just one run after loading the bases in the seventh with one out and three of their most productive hitters up.

    In this space we are going to review some of the things they did wrong which led directly to them losing the game to Toronto 3-2....

    Jake Faria make too many mistakes, the failure to execute costing him repeatedly.
  14. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes are clear.

    And if they end up falling short, Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays will be glaringly among those wasted chances....

    Associated Press
  15. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

    Moving Brad Miller to the leadoff spot may actually be a good idea. He seems to be taking better swings, with another hit on Wednesday, and his ability to draw walks could be a bonus....