SPRING TRAINING: Andriese out of rhythm in Rays’ walk-off loss; preview of today’s game

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Andriese (35) faces the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning Friday at LECOM Park in Bradenton (Sun Photo by Tom O’Neill).

BRADENTON — Matt Andriese was not sharp in his second outing of the spring.

Andriese needed 44 pitchers to record just five outs, where he walked two, allowed two hits and surrendered one run.

“I don’t really tend to walk people too often, I was just feeling my mechanics a little bit,” Andriese said. “It’s nothing really to worry about. Just gotta get back out there in the next five days and do it again.”

This was the first time he pitched since March 1, when he threw 1.1 innings against the Phillies. In that outing, Andriese allowed three hits and no runs.

“He couldn’t find a rhythm, really,” manager Kevin Cash said. “It just seemed like he couldn’t get comfortable out there. A lot of ball, strike, ball, strike.”

Andriese is projected to be the team’s No. 5 starter once the regular season begins.

CASH MAKES A STATEMENT
Cash seemingly called out his entire pitching staff prior to Friday’s game.

“It’s getting about that time when we need to see some guys start pitching well, and the starters start getting after it a little bit,” he said. “I’m not saying today’s the day, but as a group, we have to get going here.”

He didn’t limit his comments to just the starting pitchers.

“I think the entire pitching staff, we can probably step on the gas a little bit more and start seeing guys building up and getting closer to where they’re going to be opening day,” Cash said. “I know it’s March 10, but we’ve also been here now for a what seems like a month.”

Typically early in spring pitchers work on specific mechanics rather than how they’d throw in a regular-season game. Cash says he’d like to see them move toward that direction.

Entering Friday’s game, Rays pitchers had 118 strikeouts to 27 walks in 12 games. Those totals were first and second, respectively, in all of the majors.

PITCHERS IN WBC
Alex Colome made his World Baseball Classic debut Thursday night for the Dominican Republic against Canada.

The Rays’ reliever tossed one perfect inning, striking out a pair of batters on just 16 pitches.

Starting pitcher Chris Archer was scheduled to make his starting debut Friday night. We’ll have an update Sunday on his outing.

Archer faced Colombia, which beat the Rays 9-7 on Wednesday.

FILLING OUT THE BULLPEN
One of the places on the roster there is still room to maneuver is the bullpen.

There are likely going to be seven pitchers headed to the pen, with maybe only four of five guaranteed right now.

“Some maybe have a better chance than others right now, but nothing has been defined that’s for sure,” Cash said.

Cash says there are two or three spots open, with players like Shawn Tolleson, Justin Marks, Jaime Schultz, Ryne Stanek, Tommy Hunter, Danny Farquhar and Kevin Gadea vying for those openings.

ROSTER MOVES
The Rays claimed right-hander Jumbo Diaz off waivers Friday afternoon. They had to move Nathan Eovaldi (Tommy John surgery) to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Diaz on the 40-man roster.

Diaz made 45 appearances last season for the Cincinnati Reds, tossing 43 innings with 37 strikeouts, 19 walks and a 3.14 ERA.

Throw Diaz’s name on the above list of players looking to fill out the Rays’ bullpen. He’s also currently with Colome in Miami pitching for the Dominican Republic in the WBC.

PIRATES 4, RAYS 1

HITTER OF THE GAME
Tim Beckham, Rays:
Beckham remained scorching hot at the plate. His solo shot in the third inning tied the game at 1-1. He’s now batting .375 in spring.

PITCHER OF THE GAME
Hunter Wood, Rays:
Tampa Bay pitchers were struggling through the first 3.2 innings until Wood entered the game. He retired each of the seven batters he faced with three strikeouts, two grounders to second and two popouts to center.

KEY INNING
Bottom 9th:
With the game tied at 1-1, the Pirates put two men on base against Rays pitcher Ryne Stanek. That put Edwin Espinal up to the plate with a chance to be the hero, and he delivered with a walk-off three-run homer to end the afternoon.

PROSPECT WATCH
Chih-Wei Hu, Rays:
 The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings for the Rays. He allowed two hits, one walk, and also struck out two.

THEY SAID IT
“I shot him a text this morning. I’m excited for him. … I think it’s awesome. What an opportunity to represent Major League Baseball, us and Team USA.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash on Chris Archer in the World Baseball Classic

TAMPA BAY (6-6-1) at BOSTON (5-7) 

WHEN: Today, 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers
SCHEDULED STARTERS: RH Alex Cobb vs. LH Chris Sale
PITCHING PROBABLES 
RAYS:  RH Alex Cobb (start), RH Jacob Faria, RH Neil Wagner, RH Jeff Ames, RH Diego Moreno
RED SOX:  LH Chris Sale (start), RH Matt Barnes, LH Robby Scott, RH Noe Ramirez, RH Brandon Workman

ON DECK

SUNDAY: vs. Toronto, 1:05 p.m. MONDAY:  at Minnesota, 1:05 p.m. TUESDAY: (split squad) vs. New York (AL) / at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. WEDNESDAY: vs. Boston, 1:05 p.m. THURSDAY: vs. Minnesota, 1:05 p.m. 

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