Devil Rays Inside Pitch 5/8

All of today's news and notes on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Right-hander Edwin Jackson can be very good. He can be very bad. And he can be extremely inconsistent.Sunday he was all three in the Rays' 5-3 loss to Oakland.

Though Jackson took the loss, giving up the game-deciding homer in the seventh, it was how he adjusted from three rough innings to three dominating ones that left manager Joe Maddon encouraged about the future for the enigmatic 23-year-old right-hander.

"I was really pleased with Jack and I thought, hopefully, he broke some mental adhesions today where he's finally starting to gain some confidence and realize the feeling it takes to pitch at this level, on a high level. And he did," Maddon said. "He was really good as that game got deep."

Jackson, who has yet to win in seven starts as a Devil Ray, hit 97 mph on the stadium gun and seemed focused and determined. Maddon is intrigued that he seems to get better as the game goes on and said he will consider allowing him to regularly throw more pitches (116 on Sunday) than the other young starters.

"What you saw there at the end is what he is capable of doing from pitch one," Maddon said. "He's a young man and we're going to arrive at that point eventually. But for right now, I'll take what I saw today."

A's 5, RAYS 3: Nick Swisher hit a tie-breaking home run off Edwin Jackson in the seventh inning to lead the A's. B.J. Upton, the AL's top hitter, homered earlier for the Rays.


2B B.J. Upton has led the American League in batting and strikeouts the last three days. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Upton is the first player to lead a league on both categories for more than one day since Philadelphia's Dick Allen did it for five days in 1965.

RHP Ruddy Lugo was the first victim of what is expected to be a months-long overhaul of the Rays pitching staff. The struggling reliever was optioned to Triple-A on Sunday, having gone 2-0 with a 9.28 ERA and .362 opponents average, and is expected to be replaced by RHP Chad Orvella or Tim Corcoran.

OF Carl Crawford didn't start in left field for the first time this season Sunday, getting a day as the DH to give him a chance to rest his legs, which he said are sore as a result of the new FieldTurf that was installed at Tropicana Field. Manager Joe Maddon said he hoped the extra rest -- the Rays are off Monday -- would provide a spark.

3B Ty Wigginton hit two game-tying homers on Saturday. The second, to lead off the ninth, was the first allowed by Oakland closer Huston Street since June 24, a span of 51 games, 52 innings and 215 batters.

LHP Scott Kazmir had not been throwing as hard as he had in his last few starts but seemed to return to his usual velocity on Saturday, regularly hitting 94 mph during a six-inning outing. "I'm still getting my arm strength back, to tell you the truth," Kazmir said. "I'm the type of guy who as the season goes along I get stronger."

The Rays went into play Sunday tied for second place in the AL East. It is the deepest into a season they've been in second since May 8, 1999, when they were 17-15.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- Number of times the Rays have won after trailing in the ninth inning or later, matching the most in the majors and equaling their entire 2006 total of such wins.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's what three rafters in two games? I think that's a modern day baseball record. You probably want to check that with the Elias Sports Bureau." -- Manager Joe Maddon, after Carlos Pena hit the Tropicana Field catwalks twice Wednesday and again on Thursday.



INF/DH Greg Norton (surgery on torn medial meniscus in right knee) began the season on the disabled list. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Montgomery on May 4.

3B Akinori Iwamura (straining right oblique) was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 24. He will miss four to six weeks.

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.

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