RAYS: McCarthy steals the show as Archer, Weeks look sharp in win; preview of today’s game

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

PORT CHARLOTTE — Chris Archer looked smooth in his spring debut Sunday against the Red Sox.

The Rays’ ace threw 28 pitches (15 for strikes) over two innings, where he allowed one hit, one walk and struck out two batters.

I felt good,” Archer said. “I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. It was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun.”

The single he allowed to leadoff the first inning was quickly erased after catcher Jesus Sucre threw out Brock Holt attempting to steal second base.

Archer’s fastball sat around 94 mile per hour, which accounted for a majority of his pitches.

ONE MORE TIME
Archer will make one more start before joining Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. As of now, he’s slated to start the first game on March 10 against Colombia.

That game will be played at Marlins Park down in Miami.

RAMP IT UP
Speedster Mallex Smith hasn’t seen any game action this spring, as an oblique injury has limited his abilities.

According to Cash, they’re going to begin getting him to full speed, and he could be ready to get into a game soon.

LIVE BP
Prior to Sunday’s game, pitchers Tommy Hunter, Xavier Cedeno, Jose De Leon threw live batting practice sessions to Rays minor leaguers.

De Leon had to skip a couple of days with a very slight back issue, but that appears to be a thing of the past.

I’ll be good to go next week whenever it’s my turn to pitch,” De Leon said. “That wasn’t a big deal, or a small thing even. That was just preventative.”

MINOR LEAGUE, MAJOR HELP
The Rays entered spring more banged up than usual, which has allowed minor leaguers an extended opportunity to see some big-league action.

A pair of players who played with the Stone Crabs last year, Justin Williams and Joe McCarthy, were both in the starting lineup for the Rays on Sunday. McCarthy hit a rocket, line-drive two-run homer in the eighth inning.

EXTRA, EXTRA
In his first three at-bats this spring, infielder Tim Beckham hit a double and triple (vs. the Twins) and then began Sunday with a ground-rule double. He reached base for a fourth time with a walk before flying out to end his streak.

RAYS 7, RED SOX 3

HITTER OF THE GAME
Rickie Weeks Jr., Rays:
 The 34-year-old is making his case for a roster spot with a pair of solid hits on Sunday. He smoked a ground ball to the left side in his first at-bat and then came back in at-bat No. 2, showing opposite field power with a home run.

PITCHER OF THE GAME
Chase Whitley, Rays: 
Whitley was nearly flawless in his two innings of work. The only batter to reach base was on an error. He struck out the side for an easy frame in the fourth.

KEY INNING
Bottom 6th:
 Joe McCarthy’s RBI double to plate Johnny Field gave the Rays a 4-0 lead at the time. That proved to be the game-winning run, as the Red Sox later scored three runs.

PROSPECT WATCH
Kevin Gadea, Rays:
 The Rule-5 Draft selectee got into the fifth inning, where he allowed one hit and a walk, but kept the Red Sox scoreless. He also had one strikeout. Gadea forced a flyout from Andrew Benintendi, MLB’s No. 1 prospect, to end the frame.

THEY SAID IT

I looked around and it felt just like – I can’t say it felt like a high-A game because of the atmosphere – but I played here all last year, so I was comfortable with it. Just happy to be back in baseball.

— Joe McCarthy, Rays outfielder, who spent 2016 with the Charlotte Stone Crabs

TODAY’S GAME

WHO: TAMPA BAY (2-1) at PHILADELPHIA (2-1)
WHEN: Today, 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: Spectrum Field, Clearwater
SCHEDULED STARTERS: LH Blake Snell vs. RH Jerad Eickhoff
PITCHING PROBABLES
RAYS:
  LH Blake Snell (start), RH Ryan Garton, RH Diego Moreno, RH Jeff Walters, LH Jose Alvarado, RH Hunter Wood.
RED SOX:  RH Jerad Eickhoff (start), RH Drew Anderson, RH Luis Garcia, LH Sean Burnett, RH Pedro Beato, RH Colton Murray, LH Cesar Ramos
ON DECK
TUESDAY:
 vs. Minnesota, 1:05 p.m. WEDNESDAY: vs. Philadelphia, 1:05 p.m. THURSDAY: at Boston, 1:05 p.m. FRIDAY: vs. Detroit, 1:05 p.m. SATURDAY: vs. Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. 

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