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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Twins 5, Rays 4: The aftermath
Posted Apr 20, 2012 by Joey Johnston
Updated Apr 21, 2012 at 12:09 AM
ST. PETERSBURG—In the wake of the Rays’ 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday night, here are some postgame nuggets.
After the game, the Rays announced that SS Reid Brignac was optioned to Triple-A Durham, making room for 1B/OF Brandon Allen, who was acquired off waivers from Oakland and is expected to join the team in time for Saturday night’s game.
Brignac, who was enjoying a productive spring before suffering a foot injury, was hitting just .118 (2-for-17) in the regular season. He spent the entire 2010 season with the Rays and most of last season as well, except for an 11-game stint in Durham.
How did Brignac take the news?
“Not well,’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I didn’t expect him to. To be in a situation like that, to go back and forth, it’s not easy. ... Any frustration he might have had, I understand it.
“We need to get him some at-bats, some steady at-bats. He has a ways to go to fulfill his offensive potential. I still consider him one of the best defensive shortstops in the league. He’ll play a good defensive game just like that. With the game on the line, you want the ball hit to him all the time, not just once in a while. He is that guy. We just have to get him better offensively.’‘
Rays CF B.J. Upton, who returned from the 15-day disabled list after recovering from lower back soreness prompted by a spring-training outfield collision, said he felt fine after playing his first MLB game of the season.
“I was all over the place today,’’ Upton said. “But it’s good to get the first one out of the way, so now I can relax and just kind of go play.’‘
Maddon said he thought Upton ran well and showed decent arm strength. His tempo and rhythm at the plate will be a work in progress.
Upton was 0-for-3 and didn’t get the ball out of the infield. He was 3-for-21 in seven rehab games split between Durham and Double-A Montgomery.
The Rays bullpen has an 8.49 ERA this season, highest in the majors. It showed improvement in Tampa Bay’s previous five games, allowing only three earned runs in 12 innings (2.25 ERA), but it couldn’t protect a 4-2 lead for LHP Matt Moore, who was gunning for his first victory.
Moore, expected to contend for American League Rookie of the Year honors, is 0-1 with a 5.12 ERA. During Moore’s first four full seasons in professional baseball (2009-12), he has gone 2-6 with a 5.13 ERA in April (17 starts). In the other months (66 starts), he is 25-14 with a 2.38 ERA.
Twins LF Josh Willingham, who won the game with a three-run double in the seventh inning, has hit safely in each of Minnesota’s 14 games this season. He’s batting .340 (17-for-50) and Saturday night can tie a Twins record held by Kirby Puckett, who hit safely in his first 15 games to start the 1994 season.
Twins DH Joe Mauer, who provided Minnesota’s 2-0 lead with RBI singles in the first and fifth innings, leads all active major leaguers in batting average at Tropicana Field (minimum 75 plate appearances) at .443 (31-for-70).
Assorted Rays stats
RF Matt Joyce has three homers in his last four games, the second time he has done that in his career (also May 10-13 last season). Joyce has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, batting .379 (11-for-29) during that span. ... 3B Evan Longoria is batting .538 (7-for-13) with two homers and three RBIs in four games at Tropicana Field this season. He leads the Rays with five game-tying or go-ahead RBIs this season. ... The Rays lost for the first time this season when leading after six innings. .... The Rays had won eight consecutive regular season home games, dating back to last season. .... Minnesota’s right-handed batters were 4-for-16 against Moore and righties overall are batting just .189 (10-for-53) against him this season. Lefties? Strangely, Moore’s left-handed opponents are hitting .500 (10-for-20) overall. Minnesota’s righties were 4-for-8 on Friday night against Moore.