Do you get the feeling that the Rays are evolving into the kind of rival for the Orioles that can, well, rival any other team in their division?
Yes, I know that’s saying a lot. I don’t toss it out there lightly.
Tampa Bay had a great deal of catching up to do, of course, and manager Buck Showalter is still loath to heap praise on the Red Sox and Yankees. He’s not going to genuflect at the mere mention of their names. However, he clearly was irritated yesterday by the Rays lack of communication while changing their starting pitcher. He found out about it after receiving the lineup card as he sat down to do his pregame session with the media, which isn’t how it’s normally done.
Showalter spent a good portion of the winter venting about the Rays’ team physician, Dr. Koko Eaton, commenting publicly on the Grant Balfour physical following his on-field misdiagnosis of Manny Machado’s knee injury at Tropicana Field.
Rays manager Joe Maddon complimented the Orioles for deciding to postpone yesterday’s game, but he slipped in a shot.
“Great call,” he said. “What took you so long?”
Luckily for the Rays, they play their home games under a dome and don’t need to wrestle with such weather decisions. Just adjust the air conditioning and hope to reach five figures in attendance.
Miguel Gonzalez gets the start today and will be working on six days rest. Gonzalez has a career 4.29 ERA in 22 starts on four days, a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts on five days and a 3.38 ERA in 12 starts on six days or more.
Gonzalez is 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA in eight career starts against the Rays.
I thought that Showalter would keep Chris Tillman as today’s starter, but he may not want to push back Gonzalez any further.
The Orioles will honor Jackie Robinson today by wearing their No. 42 jerseys. Rain washed away those plans yesterday.
Players in the clubhouse are absolutely paranoid of getting sick, and who can blame them? J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters walked down the hallway with their T-shirts pulled up over their noses. Meek walked past reporters on his way out the door and reminded us to wash our hands.
We made good use of the hand sanitizing dispenser that’s mounted on the wall next to the entrance. I considered squatting underneath it and using it like a shower head.
Rough night at Gwinnett for Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Kevin Gausman. He faced three batters in the fourth without recording an out before leaving the game and was charged with four runs and seven hits in three-plus innings, with three walks, one strikeout and one home run. He threw 67 pitches, 40 for strikes.
Rough night at Gwinnett for left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz, who replaced Gausman and allowed five runs and six hits in one inning.