The Rays entered this afternoon’s contest against the Twins having completed back-to-back shutouts. Starter Chris Archer shut them out over six innings on Friday while Matt Moore went three innings in a rain-soaked affair last night. The last time a Rays pitcher had allowed a run was in the sixth inning on Thursday against the Red Sox, when Stephen Drew doubled against Jamey Wright.
The great pitching continued for six innings today before starter David Price faltered, bringing the streak to 27 consecutive scoreless innings. The Rays went ahead 3-0 on a Wil Myers two-run home run in the fourth and a Sean Rodriguez solo shot in the fifth. Price took the hill in the seventh, but he loaded the bases with one out, prompting manager Joe Maddon to call upon Jake McGee. McGee surrendered a two-run single to Chris Parmelee, then recorded consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
The Rays added an insurance run in the top of the eighth on a James Loney RBI single. Joel Peralta, making his American League-leading 73rd appearance of the season, got two quick outs in the bottom of the eighth and appeared to be on his way to an easy inning. Ryan Doumit slugged a solo home run to right-center to bring the Twins within a run. Peralta allowed a single to Trevor Plouffe and a walk to Josh Willingham before Josmil Pinto drove a three-run homer to left-center, putting the Twins up 6-4. It proved to be the game-winner as closer Glen Perkins tossed a perfect ninth for his 35th save of the season.
Entering the afternoon, the Rays were tied with the Rangers at 81-66 for the two Wild Card spots. The Indians, clearly visible in the rear-view mirror, were just a game and a half behind. As the Rangers lost, the Rays will be no worse than a game in front for the second Wild Card as the rest of today’s action unfolds.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.