Rays Roundup: Fifth Inning Walk Proves Costly

In this edition of Rays Roundup: James Shields points the finger at himself for giving up a key walk in Friday's loss, Alex Cobb is promoted from Durham and will start Saturday, Will Rhymes is close to 100 percent after getting hit in the forearm by a pitch and manager Joe Maddon lauds former Ray and current Brave Eric Hinske for his leadership during the 2008 season. All that and more inside.


Fifth-inning walk proves costly

Righty James Shields, the uncontested leader and ace of the Rays pitching staff, prides himself on not making mistakes.

But after losing 5-3 to the Braves on Friday, the Rays' right-hander was bothered by what he considered a big one.

It wasn't any of the seven hits he allowed to the 27 hitters he faced, but a walk that stuck in his craw, giving a two-out free pass to Martin Prado with the score tied in the fifth.

"That's unacceptable," Shields said. "I've got to do a better job. Definitely put that loss on me tonight."

That was the case because he followed the walk by allowing an RBI double to Freddie Freeman, putting the Braves ahead to stay, then a walk and a single to Brian McCann that scored the eventual decisive run.

"That segment of the game is what beat us tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.


Cobb called up to start Saturday

--RHP Alex Cobb started preparing to be called up as soon as he heard Monday night that RHP Jeff Niemann was injured and the Rays would need a starter for Saturday. He was rewarded with the call, just as manager Joe Maddon told him in spring training when he was sent to the minors. "When I got sent down, Joe told me I'd be a big part of the season this year," Cobb said. "You never want to get called up due to injury, but it makes me realize that they do have trust me in me and believe that I can fill the spot okay."

--RHP Josh Lueke was optioned back to Triple-A to make room for RHP Alex Cobb to be activated and start Saturday. But Lueke, who struggled in an early-season stint with the Rays and then at Triple-A, left them with something to think about, striking out two in a 1-2-3 ninth that manager Joe Maddon called "fantastic."

--INF Will Rhymes still had some swelling in his bruised right forearm, the result of being hit by a pitch Wednesday, but was available to pinch-run and pinch-hit on Friday, though he was a bit fatigued taking swings in the batting cage. "I'm basically 100 percent as far as the swing goes," Rhymes said. "I'm getting closer. ... I want to get out there, obviously, but we've got to be smart about it."

--INF/OF Eric Hinske returned to the Trop with the Braves on Friday, and manager Joe Maddon used the occasion to again laud Hinske for his role in providing leadership during the Rays' 2008 breakthrough season, along with Cliff Floyd, Troy Percival and Dan Wheeler. "The fact that we're a lot different, a lot of it is because of those guys, how they raised our young," Maddon said. "You hear about all this wonderful clubhouse influence among players, but those guys truly were and that's a big part of our turnaround."

--INF Sean Rodriguez was out of the lineup on Friday, a combination of getting rest as he's been playing through soreness on the left side of his chest, and INF Jeff Keppinger being a better matchup against Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson.

BY THE NUMBERS: 20 -- Stolen bases by the Rays in May, most in the AL over that span.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I know one thing, he believes he belongs here." -- Manager Joe Maddon, on just-promoted RHP Alex Cobb.

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