Rays top White Sox for eighth straight victory

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A week ago it appeared the Rays may be reduced to the role of spoiler when they faced the White Sox and Orioles in their final seven games of the season. Now, they’re right back in it after winning their eighth straight game on Thursday night against the Pale Hose.

Evan Longoria homered in the top of the ninth and Fernando Rodney closed the game with yet another scoreless inning as the Rays prevailed 3-2. It was Rodney’s 46th save of the season.

The White Sox got their only two runs off James Shields on a HBP in the fourth and a Paul Konerko double-play ball in the fifth. Jake Peavy was left with a no-decision after a strong effort that saw him allow two runs in 7 1/3 innings. Brett Myers took the loss in the ninth.

At 86-70, the Rays control their own destiny, even though they’re still three games back of the Orioles and two behind the A’s in the wild card. That’s because they still have three games against Baltimore next week.

The White Sox, on the other hand, have lost three straight to fall two games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. They don’t get to face Detroit again, so their fate is out of their hands. Since the Tigers finish with the Twins and Royals, the White Sox may have to win out to have a shot.

But that’s going to be exceedingly difficult with three more games against the Rays on the slate. The White Sox have look putrid against mediocre pitching of late, and now they’re getting Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and David Price this weekend.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.