Rays Inside Pitch 4/21

All of the latest news on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

INSIDE PITCH 4/21

Right-hander Juan Salas has pitched so well, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon wanted to try him in late inning situations.

The eighth inning, he had no problem with. But things got a little different when the ninth rolled around.

Salas' velocity was down and his command was off, and he got the Rays in a mess even closer Al Reyes couldn't get them out of. (And rookie Brian Stokes wasn't available to help because of the virus sweeping through their clubhouse.)

"We're still learning what these guys can and can not do," Maddon said. "A night like tonight kind of gives me a different perspective maybe on what we can do in the future. His eighth inning was really, really good. It was exceptional. ... I thought we might get two (innings) out of there and then you might get a win without using Reyes in a non-save situation."

Salas has looked good, using a fastball that cuts viciously, clocks in regularly at 93-94, and gets bad swings from opposing batters.

"I like what he did the other day. He pitched with a lot of confidence and had some bad swings at him," Maddon said. "That's what I've been looking for. The quality of the swing against him -- they're missing it, they're mis-hitting it, and they have that look on their face like, 'What was that?' "

That wasn't the case in the ninth inning.

INDIANS 4, RAYS 3: Travis Hafner singled in the winning run off Al Reyes, spoiling a good -- but not good enough -- outing by Edwin Jackson. Reyes came in after Juan Salas put the first two men on in the ninth. B.J. Upton homered for the Rays.

NOTES, QUOTES

--OF/DH Jonny Gomes is going to get more regular playing time after starting just twice in the Rays' first 15 games. He was 0-for-2 as the DH Friday (and was hit by a pitch) and is likely to start against left-handers.

--INF Brendan Harris is going to get more playing time at shortstop, though he is not -- at least yet -- going to supplant Ben Zobrist as the main starter.

--The Rays were caught stealing two more time Friday -- both to end innings -- and lead the majors by far, having been caught 13 times in 16 games. They have also stolen 13.

--2B B.J. Upton hit his second homer in his 13th game; last season he had only one in 50 games, and he had none in 72 spring at-bats. He is the eighth Ray to have two or more homers; no other team has as many.

--RHP Jae Seo starts on Saturday, having allowed 35 baserunners over 16 1/3 innings in his first three starts. Manager Joe Maddon said he thinks Seo is close to a breakthrough. In 19 starts since being acquired by the Rays, he has won once.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Wins in nine road games this season, one more than the Rays had in their final 36 last season, from July 1 on.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Every day that guy pitches it's like Friday the 13th." -- Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli, going into Friday's game against Johan Santana, which the Rays won.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

3B Akinori Iwamura (illness) was scratched from the lineup on April 18. The Rays hope he can return April 20.

INF/DH Greg Norton (surgery on torn medial meniscus in right knee) is expected to be out until May. He opened the season on the disabled list.

RHP Shinji Mori (torn labrum) is rehabbing without surgery and might be ready by midseason.

RHP Doug Waechter (shoulder surgery) is rehabbing and is expected to be game-ready by June


Rays Digest Top Stories