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Inbox: Can Rays keep Kiermaier healthy?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from fans
MLB.com @wwchastain

I can't believe Kevin Kiermaier is injured again. The Rays need to tell him to dial it back a notch. I know he's a great player, and he can do some amazing things. But how can he be any good if he's on the disabled list?
-- Steven H., St. Petersburg

Kiermaier plays hard. And when you play hard, injuries are going to happen. The latest injury really was a freaky one, though. He slid headfirst into second and tore a ligament in his right thumb while trying to hang onto the bag. Bottom line, if Kiermaier doesn't play all out, the Rays aren't getting the player they value.

I can't believe Kevin Kiermaier is injured again. The Rays need to tell him to dial it back a notch. I know he's a great player, and he can do some amazing things. But how can he be any good if he's on the disabled list?
-- Steven H., St. Petersburg

Kiermaier plays hard. And when you play hard, injuries are going to happen. The latest injury really was a freaky one, though. He slid headfirst into second and tore a ligament in his right thumb while trying to hang onto the bag. Bottom line, if Kiermaier doesn't play all out, the Rays aren't getting the player they value.

Yonny Chirinos has been really good so far. Now that he's been officially named a member of the starting rotation, will he remain there?
-- Jim B., Memphis, Tenn.

Prior to Sunday's game when talking to manager Kevin Cash about Nathan Eovaldi, I asked if Tampa Bay planned to go to a five-man rotation once Eovaldi returned. Cash said that wasn't the plan. Having said that, a lot can happen between now and when Eovaldi returns -- particularly injuries to other pitchers in the rotation. However, if Eovaldi returns and the rest of the rotation is in good shape, I would expect Chirinos to return to the bullpen.

:: Submit a question to the Rays Inbox ::

I didn't know what to think about "bullpen days" when the season started. I thought the Rays were crazy. Now I kind of like the days when the bullpen takes over, and I'm not crazy about the days when the regular starters pitch. Your thoughts?
-- Patrick H., Tampa, Fla.

In fairness to Patrick, I received this email prior to the recent run of nice starts by the starters. I agree -- I like the "bullpen days," and I believe there's still some further evaluation to take place before judging its effectiveness. Of course, if the starters continue to go a little deeper into the games, I think the effectiveness of the bullpen start will be improved.

Watching Mallex Smith play the field makes me uncomfortable. But watching him on the offensive side is a delight. How do you see the Rays managing Smith going forward?
-- Don P., Tampa, Fla.

Smith has struggled in the field at times, but he's been pretty darn good on offense. If you're Cash, you hope the offense continues to play, and the defense improves. Smith has the athleticism to become a better defender.

I went to several Spring Training games this season, driving from St. Petersburg to Port Charlotte. I can honestly say, I didn't see this start coming. The Rays looked like they had a competitive squad in the games I saw. What happened?
-- Jeff T., Tampa, Fla.

Yes, the Rays started slow, but they also ran into a buzz saw in the Red Sox, who they got to see home and away to start the season. I still believe that it's too early to push the panic button on this year's squad, particularly the way they've played in the past six games (won five of six). But I will agree that Tampa Bay did not get off to the start the club would have hoped for.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays

Gomez creates splash on 1st career walk-off HR

MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Gomez told his 9-year-old son, Yandel, he'd hit a homer for him on Sunday. Well, dad came through.

Gomez's two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Rays an 8-6 win over the Twins at Tropicana Field.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Gomez told his 9-year-old son, Yandel, he'd hit a homer for him on Sunday. Well, dad came through.

Gomez's two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Rays an 8-6 win over the Twins at Tropicana Field.

View Full Game Coverage

Yandel "had a really good game yesterday playing soccer," Gomez said. "And they won the game because of the goal he scored. I told him today, 'It's my turn, I'm going to try and hit a homer for you.' And I did, and I know he's going to be really happy."

Video: MIN@TB: Gomez discusses his walk-off homer vs. Twins

Count the Rays in on that happiness. Gomez's blast helped them earn a sweep of their weekend series and they have now won four games in a row and five of their last six.

C.J. Cron singled to lead off the ninth to bring Gomez to the plate. Based on Gomez's recent track record, he appeared to be a better walk-back-to-the-dugout candidate than walk-off hero when he stepped to the plate.

Gomez had gone 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to that point of the game. One of the strikeouts frustrated him enough to prompt him to snap his bat in half over his knee. But the veteran stayed in the game mentally. So when Cron led off the inning, Gomez thought of possible scenarios. If Cron doubled, Gomez planned to bunt him to third. After Cron singled and Rob Refsnyder was inserted as a pinch-runner, Gomez looked to the dugout. Rays manager Kevin Cash told him to hit away. And he did.

Video: MIN@TB: Gomez snaps bat in two after a strikeout

Gomez swung at the first pitch he saw, a 90.7-mph fastball from Addison Reed, and he deposited the ball a projected 402 feet away, per Statcast™, into the left-field stands for his first career walk-off homer.

"Gomez had an interesting series, but he finished it on a really good note," said Cash of Gomez, who entered the game in the midst of a 2-for-34 slump. "Good for him. Veteran player, young player. Any time you do something like that it's pretty special."

Cron hit a two-run homer in the first, his fifth homer of the season and his third in the last two games, and Adeiny Hechavarria's three-run homer in the sixth off Alan Busenitz powered a four-run inning that put the Rays up 6-3, but the Rays' bullpen couldn't hold the lead.

Video: MIN@TB: Cron opens the scoring with a two-run homer

Miguel Sano singled off Chaz Roe in the seventh to drive home a run, and Brian Dozier added a two-run single off Sergio Romo in the eighth to tie the game at 6.

Alex Colome stopped the bullpen bleeding by striking out the side in the ninth to set up Gomez's feel-good moment in the bottom half of the inning.

"I know that I've been struggling at the plate," Gomez said. "But I always kept my confidence and belief in my ability to have a good at-bat. … A lot of strikeouts right now. But one at-bat can get you going."

Video: MIN@TB: Colome strikes out the side in the 9th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hechavarria's prowess in the field is extraordinary. Sunday he extended his club-record errorless streak to 70 games. So his three-run homer off Busenitz felt like found money, putting the Rays up 6-3. Gomez's homer ended the game, but Hechavarria's put the Rays in position to win in the bottom of the ninth.

Video: MIN@TB: Hechavarria lifts three-run homer in the 6th

SOUND SMART
While Gomez's home run was the first walk-off homer of his career, it was also the first walk-off plate appearance and hit of his career, coming in his 1,329th game, 4,808th plate appearance and 4,359th at-bat.

Tweet from @_dadler: David Adler

HE SAID IT
"We got off to a rough start, and nobody really hung their heads. They were frustrated. It seems like we're kind of righting the ship here. And you can only build off wins like this. And series wins. And then today with a last-minute home run to win a ballgame. That adds even more." -- Cash, on the Rays

EARTH DAY
Doing their part for Major League Baseball's Earth Day celebration on Sunday, the Rays increased the number of recycle bins located at Tropicana Field.

Major League Baseball was the first professional sports league to have all of its teams as members of the Green Sports Alliance, which promotes healthy, sustainable communities in sports. In fact, MLB clubs diverted more than 20,000 tons of recycled or composted waste during the 2017 season.

UP NEXT
The Rays will be off on Monday before embarking on a nine-game, three-stop road trip to Baltimore, Boston and Detroit. Jake Faria will start the opening game of the Baltimore series. He is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in four appearances in his career against the Orioles. Tuesday's game begins at 7:05 p.m. ET. Alex Cobb will start for the Orioles.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays, Carlos Gomez

Rays fan very excited after catching Cron HR

What's a good day at the ballpark? Maybe you go with family or friends, enjoy some good food, watch some of your favorite players, and maybe see a win. That's a fun afternoon.

But, if you're so lucky that a home run is hit in your direction, well, you're given a special opportunity. And if you happen to bring a glove (as permitted by the Gloves At Ballparks Unwritten Rules Committee, of course), you might really have a great time.

Snell cruises, Cron erupts as Rays take series

Lefty is 8-2 with a 2.74 ERA since last Aug. 8; DH belts pair of homers
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell is maturing into the pitcher the Rays thought they had when he blew through the organization's farm system in 2015, a left-hander with four pitches and electric stuff.

Saturday he ran that stuff out against the Twins and came away with his third consecutive quality start in a 10-1 win at Tropicana Field that saw C.J. Cron fuel the offense with a pair of two-run homers.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell is maturing into the pitcher the Rays thought they had when he blew through the organization's farm system in 2015, a left-hander with four pitches and electric stuff.

Saturday he ran that stuff out against the Twins and came away with his third consecutive quality start in a 10-1 win at Tropicana Field that saw C.J. Cron fuel the offense with a pair of two-run homers.

View Full Game Coverage

The Rays' third consecutive win gave them back-to-back series wins after they defeated the Rangers twice in a three-game series earlier this week.

Video: MIN@TB: Cron hits two homers against the Twins

Snell limited the Twins to one run on five hits while striking out six to move to 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA on the season. For the second consecutive game, the left-hander did not walk a batter.

"I'm happy about [no walks]," Snell said. "I was frustrated about the first inning, 20 pitches. Wasn't in the zone as much as I wanted to be. So it was good to adjust from that."

Snell credited his batterymate, Wilson Ramos, for his work behind the plate.

"Me and Wilson got in a rhythm again," Snell said. "It's nice when you know the pitch you want to throw and he's already calling it. I don't think I've had to shake him the last two games at all. When I did, I ended up throwing a pitch he wanted, because he ended up being right. Just being able to trust him so much, it's really helped a lot."

Snell is 8-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 15 starts since his Aug. 8 recall. During that stretch, opponents have hit just .194 against him. Snell believes he can reach higher.

"There's still more," Snell said. "I know there's more. I'm not going to be satisfied with it. I want to be better. I know I can be. It's definitely in the right direction, especially from a walk standpoint. But I still know that there's a lot that I can grab and grasp onto, and really be a better all-around pitcher."

Cron gave the Rays a 2-1 lead in the third when he homered with a man aboard on an 0-2 pitch from Kyle Gibson. He then put the finishing touches on a five-run seventh with his second two-run homer of the game, that one coming against Gabriel Moya to give the Rays a six-run lead.

Cron now has nine career multi-homer games. The previous one came on Aug. 29, 2017, when he played for the Angels against the A's.

"It was just nice to contribute to a good team win," Cron said. "We scored a lot of runs there and I think one through nine [in the batting order], we had our best offensive day of the year. I think we're going to keep clicking here, and thankfully they found the first row."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Rays held a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning when Denard Span faced Moya with two outs and runners at second and third. After falling behind 1-2, Span fouled off three pitches and took a ball before lacing an 84-mph slider back through the middle to drive home two. Cron then capped the inning with his second home run of the game.

Video: MIN@TB: Span tacks on two runs with a single

SOUND SMART
The Rays scored 10 runs, their most since Sept. 4, 2017, vs. Minnesota (11), and hit three home runs, their most since Sept. 28, 2017, against the Yankees in New York (3).

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With one out in the seventh and the Rays leading 2-1, the Twins had Robbie Grossman at third with one out. Mitch Garver then blooped a ball into shallow right field. Rays second baseman Joey Wendle and right fielder Carlos Gomez converged. Wendle reached over his shoulder to make the catch, then pivoted and threw home to prevent Grossman from scoring. Snell then struck out Ehire Adrianza to end the inning.

"We had infield in," Wendle said. "That was a big run at that point. He hit a flare, and I hightailed it as quick as I could, picked a spot and was able to get to it."

Video: MIN@TB: Wendle makes a nice over-the-shoulder catch

HE SAID IT
"Danny Farquhar, the Farquhar family, the Rays' thoughts, prayers, everything, a lot of positive thoughts going that way. It's not good news. He played for us for two years. We support him. Can't imagine what the White Sox are going through, but most importantly, his wife, his children and his extended family, and especially Danny. A lot of thoughts going his way and hope for good news to come in the coming days."
-- Rays manager Kevin Cash, on former Tampa Bay pitcher Danny Farquhar, who is in critical but stable condition after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm Friday night while pitching for the White Sox

UP NEXT
The Rays aim to wrap up their three-game series against the Twins with a sweep on Sunday afternoon in a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Yonny Chirinos will start after officially getting inserted into the Rays' rotation. Chirinos did not allow a run in his first three outings (14 1/3 innings), but was touched for six in 5 2/3 innings last time out against the Rangers. The Twins will counter with right-hander Phil Hughes.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays

Adames among top prospect performers

Rockies' No. 1 racks up five hits, goes deep
MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Sunday.

It was a perfect end to the week for Brendan Rodgers, as the Rockies' No. 1 prospect hit a two-run homer and a double while going 5-for-5 in Double-A Hartford's 11-9 win over Harrisburg.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Sunday.

It was a perfect end to the week for Brendan Rodgers, as the Rockies' No. 1 prospect hit a two-run homer and a double while going 5-for-5 in Double-A Hartford's 11-9 win over Harrisburg.

Rodgers, MLB Pipeline's No. 14 overall prospect, singled in his first two at-bats before connecting on a home run to left field, his third homer this season, in the bottom of the fourth inning. He added his third single of the contest in his next at-bat and then capped his big game with an RBI double as part of Hartford's four-run eighth inning.

The five-hit game was the third in Rodgers' career. The 21-year-old shortstop previously accomplished the feat with Class A Advanced Lancaster (June 9, 2017) and Rookie-level Grand Junction (July 12, 2015). It also extended Rodgers' hitting streak to six games, during which he's lifted his batting average from .143 to .300.

Rodgers homers on five-hit day

Fellow Rockies prospects Garrett Hampson (No. 7) and Yonathan Daza (No. 20) also collected multiple hits and plated a run in the Yard Goats' victory, while Brain Mundell (No. 18) connected on his first home run in a 2-for-5 performance.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Sunday

No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna (Braves' No. 1) extended his hitting streak to five games with a 3-for-6 effort for Triple-A Gwinnett. The three hits were a season high for the 20-year-old phenom, who has lifted his average from .139 to .217, while also scoring five runs, during his current streak.

Video: Top Prospects: Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves

No. 22 overall prospect Willy Adames' (Rays' No. 2) first home run of the season was a big one, as the 22-year-old shortstop connected on a second-inning grand slam in Triple-A Durham's rout of Lehigh Valley. It was the fourth straight game in which Adames tallied at least one hit and one RBI.

Adames' grand slam

No. 26 overall prospect Sixto Sanchez (Phillies' No. 1) was a tough-luck loser for Class A Advanced Clearwater despite tossing six innings of two-run ball. The 19-year-old right-hander, making his second start this season, scattered six hits, walked one and struck out five in the performance, throwing 63 of his 83 pitches for strikes.

No. 36 overall prospect Luis Urias (Padres' No. 3) filled out the stat sheet, tallying two hits, three runs, two RBIs and two walks in Triple-A El Paso's win over Las Vegas. The 20-year-old second baseman began his day with a two-run home run, his second this season, and went on to reach base three more times to finish 2-for-3. It was the second straight two-hit game for Urias.

Video: Top Prospects: Luis Urias, 2B, Padres

No. 68 overall prospect Fernando Romero (Twins' No. 2) was dominant for Triple-A Rochester, tossing 6 2/3 innings of one-run, two-hit ball with 10 strikeouts in a loss against Columbus. A 23-year-old right-hander, Romero is still in search of his first 2018 win but owns a 1.69 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 16 innings across his three starts.

Romero fans his 10th batter

Dodgers No. 15 prospect Connor Wong capped his week just as he did the last one -- by hitting a pair of home runs for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. The 2017 third-rounder connected on a two-run shot in the first inning and added a solo shot in the sixth, giving Wong eight home runs (as well as eight multi-hit performances) in his first 12 games. He also had an RBI single in the ninth for a total of four RBIs on the day.

Mets No. 14 prospect Anthony Kay -- a first-round Draft pick in 2016 who missed all of '17 while recovering from Tommy John surgery -- picked up his first professional win behind six scoreless innings for Class A Columbia. The 23-year-old lefty threw 59 of his 92 pitches for strikes, as he allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five to lead the Fireflies past Hickory, 5-0. Kay has pitched well to begin the season, logging a 1.69 ERA across his first 16 innings (three starts) as a pro.

Kay picks up his fifth strikeout

Nationals No. 9 prospect Daniel Johnson enjoyed his best offensive performance of the season, going 3-for-5 with a homer, a double and three runs as Double-A Harrisburg fell to Hartford, 11-9. The home run, a solo shot in the second inning, was the first this season for the Senators' leadoff man. In 2017, Johnson, 22, was one of 10 Minor Leaguers to finish with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases, tallying 22 in each category.

Video: Top Prospects: Daniel Johnson, OF, Nationals

Orioles No. 17 prospect Zac Lowther recorded double-digit strikeouts for the second time in three starts for Class A Delmarva. After striking out 13 and seven batters in his first two starts, respectively, the 21-year-old lefty fanned 11 batters in five innings Sunday while allowing one earned run on two hits and one walk. All together, Lowther has punched out 31 batters and allowed just five hits in 16 innings this season.

Reds No. 6 prospect Tony Santillan allowed his first earned run of the season in his fourth start for Class A Advanced Daytona, a 5-1 win against Dunedin. Working 6 2/3 frames, the 21-year-old right-hander yielded six hits and a walk while striking out six. He also induced eight ground-ball outs in the outing while throwing 57 of 87 pitches for strikes. He's 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA and a 24-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 2/3 innings on the season.

Red Sox No. 12 prospect Bobby Dalbec belted a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning that powered Class A Advanced Salem to a 6-4 win over Winston-Salem. The home run, Dalbec's fifth this season, capped a two-hit, four-RBI game for the 22-year-old third baseman, who had doubled earlier in the contest. He's produced a .923 OPS with 10 extra-base hits and 16 RBIs in 17 games.

Dalbec's extra-inning homer

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Chirinos earns promotion to Rays' starting 4

MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Yonny Chirinos is no longer a "Bullpen Day" starter for the Rays. Manager Kevin Cash told reporters on Saturday that the rookie right-hander is now a member of the starting rotation, with his first assignment coming in Sunday's series finale.

"I just think where he got built up with his pitch count, he's comfortable now that he can provide right around that 100-pitch count," Cash said. "We've been going back and forth with it. It's not the easiest thing in the world to build these guys up. ... I think we're in a better spot now with Yonny in the rotation. Right now, we've got him penciled in to pitch every fifth day for us when that spot comes up."

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Yonny Chirinos is no longer a "Bullpen Day" starter for the Rays. Manager Kevin Cash told reporters on Saturday that the rookie right-hander is now a member of the starting rotation, with his first assignment coming in Sunday's series finale.

"I just think where he got built up with his pitch count, he's comfortable now that he can provide right around that 100-pitch count," Cash said. "We've been going back and forth with it. It's not the easiest thing in the world to build these guys up. ... I think we're in a better spot now with Yonny in the rotation. Right now, we've got him penciled in to pitch every fifth day for us when that spot comes up."

View Full Game Coverage

The Rays' rotation in order is now as follows: Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Chirinos, Jake Faria, and "Bullpen Day."

Chirinos did not allow a run in his first three outings (14 1/3 innings), but he allowed six in 5 2/3 innings his last time out, against the Rangers.

Video: TB@CWS: Chirinos stifles White Sox over 5 1/3 innings

"I started off well, and that bad outing, all you can do is learn from it," Chirinos said, through Rays interpreter Manny Navarro. "I'm going to come out there prepared and hope for the best in my next start, then just learn from it. And always stay positive."

Cash felt as though Chirinos was "out of sync mechanically" in his last outing, but didn't sound worried about Chirinos getting back into the groove.

"Couldn't find the strike zone with his fastball -- the four-seamer or the two-seamer," Cash said. "With a bullpen session in between that he got the other day, he'll be good to go [Sunday]."

Worth noting
Matt Duffy (right hamstring strain) took ground balls and ran in the outfield at 60 percent prior to Saturday night's game, and the Rays' third baseman said he had "no issues."

Video: TEX@TB: Duffy exits after awkward slide

Duffy felt tightness in his hamstring during Monday's game against the Rangers and went on the 10-day disabled list. Duffy is hopeful he'll be ready to be activated the first day he's eligible to come off the DL, Friday at Boston.

"I certainly think it's possible," Duffy said.

Cash said Duffy would not travel with the team on Sunday for the upcoming road trip, but he added, "I hope to see him at some point on the trip."

Nathan Eovaldi (10-day DL, loose bodies in right elbow) continues to make progress.

"Another good day," Cash said. "[Pitching coach] Kyle [Snyder] said his progress has been pretty remarkable. He said he'd almost compare it to a scraped elbow, and then coming back and throwing. He threw off the mound a little bit today, so he's probably as much on schedule if not ahead of it."

After Eovaldi had surgery to remove the loose bodies from his elbow, the timetable for his return was eight to 10 weeks.

Brandon Snyder cleared waivers and will accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Durham. Snyder made two recent starts for the Rays before he was designated for assignment on Friday to make room on the 25-man roster for Brad Miller.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays

Hustling Span helps Rays walk off in 10th

Archer returns to form; bullpen bailed out by late heroics
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays never quit Friday night, and the reward came via an 8-7 walk-off win over the Twins at Tropicana Field.

But it wasn't your everyday walk-off win.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays never quit Friday night, and the reward came via an 8-7 walk-off win over the Twins at Tropicana Field.

But it wasn't your everyday walk-off win.

View Full Game Coverage

Denard Span beat out a two-out ground ball to first base, and pinch-runner Johnny Field raced home from second with the winning run. Rays players rushed from the dugout onto the field to celebrate, only to have to wait until an official review confirmed that they had in fact won.

"Agonizing," said Rays manager Kevin Cash when asked about having to wait for the review results before knowing if his team had won. "Pretty agonizing. And even after the replay came, I don't think it gave us any clarity. I know New York sees different angles and closer versions than what we see on the Jumbotron, but pretty agonizing."

Twins pitcher Zach Duke was given an error on the play as he could not find first base with his foot, which allowed Span to be safe.

"I mean, it felt like I got a piece of the bag, but apparently they didn't see it on the replay, so it doesn't matter that much," Duke said.

Wilson Ramos doubled with one out in the 10th to start the winning rally. Field was inserted to pinch-run. After Mallex Smith struck out, Adeiny Hechavarria was intentionally walked to bring Span to the plate and trigger the wild finish.

The Rays saw a 6-2 lead disappear in the eighth thanks to Eddie Rosario's grand slam off Sergio Romo. Max Kepler then homered off Ryan Yarbrough in the top of the ninth to give the Twins a 7-6 lead.

But the Rays came back.

Fernando Rodney hit Carlos Gomez with two outs in the ninth. With Brad Miller at the plate, Gomez stole his first base of the season, and Miller singled home Gomez to tie the game at 7.

Chris Archer allowed two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings, and he appeared to be well on his way to his second win of the season. Then the bullpen struggled.

"I thought Arch was really good," Cash said. "I know that shouldn't get lost in the game just the way it ended there the last couple of innings."

Span supplied most of the offense early on, going 2-for-5 and driving home three against his former team.

Video: MIN@TB: Span lines a two-run double to right field

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Miller stepped to the plate to face Rodney with two outs in the ninth and Gomez on second base representing the tying run. When the count reached 2-1, Miller swung at a 94-mph two-seamer and ripped the ball back through the middle. After ricocheting off the mound, the ball deflected off the top of shortstop Eduardo Escobar's glove into center for a game-tying single.

Video: MIN@TB: Miller hits game-tying RBI single in the 9th

"That was sick," said Miller when asked about his ball hitting the mound.

SOUND SMART
Hechavarria extended his errorless streak to 68 games and 228 chances, longest in Rays club history for a shortstop by games, and third-longest by chances (club record is 242).

Video: MIN@TB: Hechavarria makes a diving backhanded stop

HE SAID IT
"We feel sexy about it. It's not how old you are, it's how you feel. And every day I feel hot." -- Gomez, on veteran players, including himself and Span, getting the job done.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Twins challenged in the bottom of the 10th when Span was ruled safe at first, which allowed the winning run to score. Span grounded to Joe Mauer on the play, and the Twins' first baseman flipped to Duke covering first. But the left-hander struggled to touch the bag with his foot, and Span appeared to win the race to the base. After a 2 minute, 16 second review, the call on the field was upheld.

"Off the bat I saw Joe Mauer dive for the ball," Span said. "I think out of frustration -- I rolled over a ball -- so I was like, 'I'm going to hustle, bust my butt down the line.' And when he flipped it, I could definitely tell that Zach Duke missed the bag. So I just kept running. And I saw him try to reach for the bag again, and I felt like I beat him there."

Video: MIN@TB: Field scores winning run on error in 10th

Twins manager Paul Molitor said they couldn't tell from the dugout if Duke got the bag.

"Obviously, with the game on the line you can challenge and see what they find," Molitor said. "I'm not sure if they confirmed it or just didn't have enough to overturn it. Tough play to lose on a [pitcher covering a base]."

UP NEXT
Blake Snell will try and build on his last performance when the Rays host the Twins Saturday in a 6:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. On Monday, Snell picked up the win when he allowed just one run, on five hits and no walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out nine. The left-hander has seemingly gotten better in each of his last two starts. Kyle Gibson will take the mound for the Twins.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer, Denard Span

Miller activated from disabled list, Snyder DFA'd

Cash plans to use infielder's versatility to plug holes
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brad Miller returned to the Rays' lineup for Friday night's wild 8-7, 10-inning win against the Twins, after he was activated from the 10-day disabled list. Miller had been out of action with a left groin strain since April 8. He finished with one hit, a game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the 9th. 

In a corresponding roster move, the Rays designated infielder Brandon Snyder for assignment.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Brad Miller returned to the Rays' lineup for Friday night's wild 8-7, 10-inning win against the Twins, after he was activated from the 10-day disabled list. Miller had been out of action with a left groin strain since April 8. He finished with one hit, a game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the 9th. 

In a corresponding roster move, the Rays designated infielder Brandon Snyder for assignment.

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When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

"Obviously excited to be back here, to be active," Miller said. "Join the guys and contribute."

"Good to have him back," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We've kind of missed having that extra left-handed bat. His timing was good the last two days in Port Charlotte [playing for Class A Advanced Charlotte]. ... Everything was good. Ran hard. No issues whatsoever with the groin. So he's a full go."

Miller was hitting .222 with one home run and five RBIs prior to the injury. He played in two Minor League rehab games with Charlotte on Wednesday and Thursday.

With Matt Duffy on the 10-day DL with a strained right hamstring, Miller's return comes at a good time for the Rays. Cash said he plans to take advantage of Miller's positional flexibility and will primarily use him at first and second.

"I think right now it's going to be more first and second," Cash said. "[Joey Wendle has] played third, [Daniel Robertson] obviously plays third and short, so if we get in a bind with Duff being out over the next seven to ten days, [we'll have some coverage for] however long he's out. We'll mix and match. But we know Brad can play some second base and get over there for us."

Miller said he's comfortable with wherever Cash wants to play him.

"I think it's something I'm definitely capable of," Miller said. "My focus is, number one being healthy. Just excited for that. Number two, whatever position I have to play, go out there and make an impact defensively as well."

Synder was called up to the Major Leagues when Duffy went on the DL earlier this week. He started two games at third base, batting 1-for-6 with a double and two strikeouts in his first Major League action since 2016 with the Braves.

The 31-year-old journeyman -- who has spent time in the Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox, Braves and Nationals organizations -- signed with the Rays as a free agent in December.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Brad Miller, Brandon Snyder

AL East: Checking in on the new guys

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

In April, everything is magnified. The numbers that are on the scoreboard and in box scores represent a small sample size, but they are still the numbers fans fixate on, because there is nothing else to go off yet. This is particularly true for the key newcomers for each team.

Here is a look at how it is going for five newbies in the American League East.

In April, everything is magnified. The numbers that are on the scoreboard and in box scores represent a small sample size, but they are still the numbers fans fixate on, because there is nothing else to go off yet. This is particularly true for the key newcomers for each team.

Here is a look at how it is going for five newbies in the American League East.

Blue Jays
Who's the new guy?
Right fielder Randal Grichuk

How's it going so far? Grichuk had just three hits in his first 42 at-bats before he homered and hit a key double against the Royals in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader. Grichuk entered play on Thursday with 19 strikeouts over 61 plate appearances, and he has yet to live up to the hype as Jose Bautista's replacement in right field.

Video: KC@TOR: Grichuk rips a 114.1-mph three-run homer

What's on deck? Grichuk has a pair a 20-plus homer seasons on his resume, so there's a reasonable expectation that he should be able to turn things around. It needs to happen soon, because Teoscar Hernandez will push him for playing time in right.

Number to know: The offensive production hasn't been there, but Grichuk was credited with two defensive runs saved in his first 14 starts in right field this season.

Orioles
Who's the new guy?
Starting pitcher Andrew Cashner

How's it going so far? After a rocky debut, Cashner has had three consecutive quality starts. Cashner credits fellow newcomer Alex Cobb for helping him with his breaking ball. After giving up three homers in his first start, Cashner has allowed a total of two in his past three starts. To this point, he looks to be the solid No. 2 starter the Orioles thought they were getting.

Video: BAL@DET: Cashner fans Goodrum for his fifth K

What's on deck? Cashner faces a tough test on Sunday in the Indians, who have won the AL Central title the past two years. Though Cleveland got off to a slow start at the plate, manager Terry Francona's team has plenty of firepower in the lineup.

Number to know: While he's not a big power pitcher, Cashner has 21 strikeouts in his first 24 innings.

Rays
Who's the new guy?
Right-hander Yonny Chirinos

How's it going so far? Chirinos became the first Rays pitcher to begin his career without allowing a run in the first two starts. Thus far, he has only started games that were designated as "bullpen days" under the Rays' new pitching plan.

Video: TEX@TB: Chirinos fans Guzman to end the frame

What's on deck? Chirinos' performance to date has fueled speculation that the Rays will slide him into the rotation in the near future.

Number to know: 14 1/3. That's the number of scoreless innings Chirinos logged to start the season.

Red Sox
Who's the new guy?
Designated hitter/outfielder J.D. Martinez

How's it going so far? The slugger is off to a modest start, but that shouldn't be a surprise. Martinez's career homer total in March/April is by far his lowest of any month. He has made some contributions, most notably a grand slam against the Yankees on April 11. Martinez has come through in many of the RBI opportunities he's had, and he has fit in well with his teammates. There's no reason to think the Red Sox didn't get the right guy when they signed Martinez.

Video: BOS@LAA: Martinez notches four hits, RBI in 9-0 win

What's on deck? More home runs, and soon. It should only be a matter of time before Martinez starts clearing the fences on a regular basis. Away from the chilly conditions of Boston for the next week -- the Red Sox play at Anaheim, Oakland and Toronto (where the roof is likely to be closed) -- Martinez has a good chance to get hot.

Number to know: .992. That is Martinez's OPS in his first nine home games for the Red Sox, which is a sign of how quickly he has gained comfort at Fenway. As Martinez promised, he has not shifted away from his all-fields approach.

Yankees
Who's the new guy?
Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton

How's it going so far? Not exactly how Stanton or the Yankees would have anticipated after his terrific debut, slugging two homers on Opening Day at Toronto. Stanton has heard frequent boos at Yankee Stadium, though he said that he understands why he is being singled out by his new fan base, given the expectations that accompanied his arrival.

Video: Must C Classic: Stanton hits two HRs in Yanks debut

What's on deck? Manager Aaron Boone has batted Stanton third in each of the Yankees' 16 games to this point, and said on Tuesday that he is considering lowering the slugger in the lineup -- "but not too far." Boone believes that Stanton's track record is too solid for this to continue forever, and when he does play to his career norms, opponents will pay for these early struggles.

Number to know: .086. Stanton's batting average through eight games at Yankee Stadium, where he is 3-for-35 with 20 strikeouts. Stanton is hitting .323 (10-for-31) in eight road games.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Andrew Cashner, Yonny Chirinos, Randal Grichuk, J.D. Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton

Rays break through in 6th as Faria gets 1st win

Club gets aggressive on basepaths; bullpen holds off Rangers' rally
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay is 5-13 on the season, yet the Rays' effort has not waned.

Never was that effort -- from young and old -- more prevalent than in the sixth inning of their 4-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field. In victory, the Rays claimed a much-needed series win, and they showed what type of team they need to be to continue to win.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay is 5-13 on the season, yet the Rays' effort has not waned.

Never was that effort -- from young and old -- more prevalent than in the sixth inning of their 4-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field. In victory, the Rays claimed a much-needed series win, and they showed what type of team they need to be to continue to win.

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Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, Johnny Field nudged a single through the right side against Cole Hamels. One out later, Daniel Robertson doubled to left and Field scored from first.

"Honestly, I was just thinking first to third and that [Rangers left fielder Nomar Mazara] would cut it off and there would be a play at third, so I was booking it trying to go first to third," Field said. "As I was going to third base, I see Q [third-base coach Matt Quatraro] waving me home, so I tried to turn it on from there."

Video: TEX@TB: Cash discusses offensive effort in 4-2 win

Robertson noted that's how Field plays the game.

"I've played with him a couple of years and he plays all out," Robertson said. "He's obviously a good baserunner. A quick guy. That time of the game, that was huge for us for him to score from first on that."

Field represented the young in the sixth inning. Carlos Gomez represented the more seasoned.

Video: TEX@TB: Rays take the lead on Cron's RBI single

Gomez got hit by a pitch on the right hand to put runners at the corners for C.J. Cron, who blooped a single into center to score Robertson. Gomez wasn't content to stop at second on the play, and managed to hustle into third.

"First of all, you need to see when you're on base where they play," Gomez said. "In that situation, [the outfielders] were not playing in. It was a big guy [in Cron], and they didn't want to give up a double. I was looking at the outfield and said, 'Base hit, and I'm going to third.' But it's a looper, so I shuffle, shuffle, and when I see he's not going to get it, I put my head down and go all the way to third."

Gomez's effort represented a big play because reaching third allowed him to score on Adeiny Hechavarria's sacrifice fly to put the Rays up 3-1.

Video: TEX@TB: Hechavarria extends the lead with a sac fly

Denard Span doubled home Joey Wendle in the seventh to push the lead to 4-1.

"Things aren't going like we want to right now," Gomez said. "It's not only me, this is the game we're going to play. But the last 2 1/2 weeks, we're not performing like we want to, but it's a game that everybody is going to see us going from first to third on every base hit."

Jake Faria gave the Rays a quality start, allowing one run on five hits with an intentional walk and six strikeouts in six innings to claim his first win of the season, and his first win since July 25, 2017.

Video: TEX@TB: Faria strikes out six in a one-run outing

Faria's effort bridged the gap to Chaz Roe and Jose Alvarado, who notched scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth innings, before Alex Colome pitched the ninth and had to navigate some problems -- facing the potential tying run before getting a game-ending double play.

"Yeah, it's been a rough stretch," Robertson said. "But we show up to the field every day enthused and ready to play, and ready to compete. If it doesn't go our way, we can't knock our effort or our energy. It's baseball. Teams go through stretches. It happened to us early. But last couple of games, last couple of days, we've been able to pull out some wins."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Rangers almost rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the ninth against Colome, who put himself in trouble by walking Adrian Beltre and Joey Gallo to lead off the inning. Colome struck out Robinson Chirinos, but Drew Robinson lined a single to left to bring home Beltre. Texas then had Ronald Guzman pinch-hit for Renato Nunez, and he hit a grounder to the second baseman Wendle for a game-ending double play.

Video: TEX@TB: Wendle and Hechavarria turn game-ending DP

"I'm really glad [Colome] got through that and we didn't have to make a decision there at the end," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "But give him credit, I think he'd be the first to admit that he's not totally locked in. But he's going to continue to try and find it. And when he does, he'll get on a good run."

SOUND SMART
Cron was credited with his first game-winning RBI since hitting a go-ahead pinch-hit homer off Adam Kolarek on July 16, 2017, against the Rays.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Mazara led off the Rangers' sixth and popped into foul territory. Brandon Snyder gave chase. Approaching Texas' bullpen, Tampa Bay's third baseman made a backhanded grab just before reaching the stands.

 Video: TEX@TB: Snyder makes a backhanded grab in foul ground

HE SAID IT
"I thought it was a great play." -- Cash, on the fan interference call that turned Renato's home run into a double

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Nunez may have had a home run taken away from him by a fan in the fifth. The third baseman drove one over the padded part of the right-field wall, but there was some doubt whether it would have cleared the yellow line. That's because a fan reached out and caught the ball. Nunez was held to a double. The Rangers received a crew chief review, and the call stood upon review.

Video: TEX@TB: Umpires review Nunez's double, call stands

UP NEXT
The Rays will welcome the Twins to Tropicana Field on Friday to open a three-game series beginning with a 7:10 p.m. ET contest. Chris Archer will make his fifth start of the season. He has allowed homers in all four starts. Lance Lynn will start for Minnesota.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jake Faria, Johnny Field, Carlos Gomez, Daniel Robertson

McKay among top prospect performers

Braves right-hander fires six dominant frames
MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Saturday.

Kyle Wright had shown flashes of excellence early in his first Double-A campaign before putting it all together Saturday night in his finest performance as a pro.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Saturday.

Kyle Wright had shown flashes of excellence early in his first Double-A campaign before putting it all together Saturday night in his finest performance as a pro.

Wright, Atlanta's No. 2 prospect (No. 30 overall), turned in a career-long outing, tossing six-plus scoreless innings of one-hit ball to lead Double-A Mississippi past Mobile, 3-1. He issued two walks and struck out four, throwing 52 of his 84 pitches for strikes.

The two-out hit Wright allowed in the first inning was the only real blemish in his performance. He proceeded to retire 15 of the next 16 batters before departing the game in the seventh inning, after he had issued a leadoff walk to Matt Thaiss (Angels' No. 9). A pair of M-Braves relievers handled the final three innings to help secure Wright's first win at the Double-A level.

Wright retires 15 of 16 batters

The 2017 first-rounder (No. 5 overall pick) scuffled in his previous turn, allowing four earned runs in just one inning after posting 7 2/3 scoreless frames across his first two M-Braves starts. Overall, Wright, 22, owns a 2.45 ERA on the season, with 14 strikeouts and nine walks in 14 2/3 innings.

Austin Riley (Braves' No. 8, No. 97 overall) did his part to support Wright's cause by going 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. The 21-year-old third baseman is already up to eight doubles this season in 16 games, during which he's hitting .386/.435/.754 with 11 runs scored and 14 RBIs.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Saturday

No. 15 overall prospect Mitch Keller (Pirates' No. 1) completed a season-high seven innings to pick up his second win for Double-A Altoona. The 22-year-old right-hander wasn't at his sharpest, allowing three earned runs on six hits and three walks, though he still struck out seven and generated another eight outs on the ground. Jason Martin (No. 22) delivered his first home run, a two-run shot in the second inning, and later added a double to finish the game 3-for-4 with three runs.

No. 20 overall prospect Royce Lewis (Twins' No. 1) lifted his average from .222 to .323 for Class A Cedar Rapids behind a perfect 4-for-4 performance. The four hits, all singles, matched the 2017 No. 1 overall Draft pick's career-high mark. He also scored two runs and swiped his second base as the Kernels fell to Kane County, 9-2.

Lewis notches fourth hit

No. 25 overall prospect Brendan McKay (Rays' No. 3) fired four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in a no-decision for Class A Bowling Green. He threw 84.4 percent of his pitches (38 of 45) for strikes in the dominant performance and now owns a 2.00 ERA with 15 strikeouts and four hits allowed in nine innings (three starts) this season. At the plate, meanwhile, the two-way star is hitting .346/.546/.385 with 10 RBIs and an absurd 13-to-3 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

• There's no stopping No. 29 overall prospect Juan Soto. The Nationals' No. 2 prospect belted his fifth home run, a three-run shot, as well as his third triple as he recorded multiple hits for the fourth time in five games for Class A Hagerstown. Through 15 games, the 19-year-old outfielder is slashing .389/.507/.870 with 13 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and more walks (15) than strikeouts (11).

Soto crushes three-run homer

No. 74 overall prospect Jon Duplantier (D-backs' No. 1) worked five strong innings as he picked up the win for Jackson in his season debut. It also marked the Double-A debut for the 23-year-old righty, who allowed two earned runs on four hits and one walk while striking out six. The 2017 MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year had opened the season on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

Duplantier fans six in AA debut

No. 96 overall prospect Brandon Woodruff (Brewers' No. 3) allowed just one earned run while completing at least five innings for a third straight start for Triple-A Colorado Springs. The 25-year-old righty tallied a season-high seven strikeouts while scattering three hits with one walk in five innings. He's pitched to a 1.65 ERA in 16 1/3 innings since being demoted to Triple-A on April 7.

• After giving up a combined 19 hits in his previous two starts, Marlins No. 13 prospect Zac Gallen allowed just four hits in seven scoreless innings Saturday as Triple-A New Orleans defeated Oklahoma City, 2-0. The 22-year-old righty compiled five strikeouts against three walks in the outing while finding the strike zone with 58 of his 91 pitches. Gallen has completed at least six innings in three of his four starts this season.

Gallen strikes out five

Padres No. 11 prospect Esteury Ruiz and Tirso Ornelas (No. 14) both connected on their second home run of 2018 and collected three hits as Class A Fort Wayne defeated Dayton, 8-2. Ruiz, 19, hit a two-run shot in the sixth inning before finishing 3-for-5, while the 18-year-old Ornelas finished 3-for-4 after hitting a three-run homer in his first at-bat. Leadoff man Jeisson Rosario (No. 18) paced the TinCaps with three runs as he improved his average to .310 with his second multi-hit game in as many days.

Pirates No. 16 prospect Calvin Mitchell boosted his average to .371 with his fourth straight multi-hit game for Class A West Virginia. The 2017 second-rounder tallied his third triple this season before finishing with four hits and four RBIs, both matching his career bests. Braeden Ogle (No. 28) paced the Power on the mound, tossing six innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts in the 13-8 victory. He allowed six hits and walked three, throwing 54 of his 87 pitches for strikes in the outing.

Red Sox No. 15 prospect Jalen Beeks piled up 10 strikeouts in six scoreless innings as Triple-A Pawtucket blanked Gwinnett, 6-0. The 24-year-old left-hander allowed two hits, two walks and hit one batter while throwing 59 of his 98 pitches for strikes. Beeks has dominated early this season, posting a 0.64 ERA with 26 strikeouts and five walks in 14 innings (three starts).

Beeks strikes out 10

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Cash not worried about Archer's early struggles

Rays' ace 'feeling good' ahead of Friday's start vs. Twins
MLB.com @wwchastain