Rays hope to stay alive with new-look lineup

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The Rays lost to a pair of left-handed starters over the first two games of the series — Cliff Lee in Game 1 and C.J. Wilson in Game 2 — so they have a bit of a different look against right-hander Colby Lewis for Game 3 this afternoon (via Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times).

John Jaso, C
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Matt Joyce, RF
Dan Johnson, DH
Carlos Pena, 1B
B.J. Upton, CF
Jason Bartlett, SS

Jaso, Johnson and Joyce will start for the first time in the series. Pena was benched in Game 2 after going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk in Game 1. Including Wednesday’s 0-fer, Pena is batting just .112 with 35 strikeouts in his last 89 at-bats.

With the Rays on the brink of elimination, I’m a little surprised to see Bartlett in there over Reid Brignac. Keep in mind, Lewis held right-handed batters to a meager .216 batting average and 627 OPS during the regular season. Bartlett batted just .244 with a 647 OPS against righties this season while Brignac batted .261 with all eight of his home runs and a 706 OPS. Minor quibble, but something to look out for.  

Melvin Upton released by the Giants

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Jon Heyman reports that the Giants have released outfielder Melvin Upton. He requested his release.

Upton, who turned 33 yesterday, signed with San Francisco in early April after the Blue Jays released him. It was a minor league deal. After recovering from a rash of minor injuries, Upton batted .244/.306/.333 in 12 games at Triple-A Sacramento. There was no indication that the Giants were going to call him up. I presume that, back when they signed him, they figured they’d be contending and could maybe use a veteran bat. That’s obviously not the case anymore.

I suppose it’s possible that someone gives Upton a look when rosters expand in eight days, but I figure it’s more likely that we’ll next see him as he fights to make a team on a minor league deal next spring.

Carlos Santana left last night’s game with back tightness

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Andrew Miller leaving last night’s Indians-Red Sox game got all the press, but the Indians lost another key player in the game as well: Carlos Santana. He was forced to leave after going 0-for-3. There was no followup announcement after the game, so he’s likely being reevaluated.

Santana is hitting .250/.355/.446 on the year, but he’s been pretty hot of late, hitting .375 with a couple of homers in the past week.