Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Rays @ O’s: Upton calls it a ‘must win’ game
Posted Sep 13, 2012 by Roger Mooney
Updated Sep 13, 2012 at 11:56 AM
BALTIMORE After losing the first two games to the first place Orioles, B.J. Upton called this afternoon’s series finale a “must win” game, and manager Joe Maddon agrees.
“I like our players to express their opinion always, for me every game’s a ‘must game.’ There aren’t any ‘let’s just mail this one in’ games. I think we learned that lesson last year,” Maddon said. “Regardless of how dire a moment may seem or how great a moment may seem, just keep playing. Last year in the latter part of the season we lost three out of four in New York, (including) a day-night doubleheader, still came out fine. So, we had a much greater difficulties ahead of us at that time. So for me it’s just about today. Of course you want to win this game. There all ‘must wins’ as I look at it.”
In other words, while a win today is much needed, a loss won’t end the season.
Still, in the balance today is the Rays falling four games behind the Orioles with a loss or closing to within two with a win, and in this case, two is greater than four.
Jeremy Hellickson faces Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen on what is a spectacular day in the Inner Harbor.
Hellickson will try to so something Matt Moore and Alex Cobb couldn’t during the first two games – pitch past the fifth inning. Moore has the shortest outing of his young career Tuesday when he went four innings. Cobb gave the Rays 4 2/3 in Wednesday’s loss.
Desmond Jennings returns to the lineup, and Maddon said he doesn’t expect the lower back stiffness that forced Jennings to miss the last four games to force him to miss additional games.
Evan Longoria is at DH. Maddon has Jeff Keppinger at third base. His biggest decision was first base and he settled on Luke Scott, despite the lefty-lefty matchup.
Here are the lineups:
Hellickson (8-10, 3.33)
Chen (12-9, 4.06)