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Opening Day is upon us. The defending AL East Champion, Toronto Blue Jays, head to Tropicana Field on Sunday to begin a four-game series to start the 2016 season. The starting rotation of four has been set and the Jays get the task of facing all of them to open their own season. Chris Archer, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi, and Matt Moore will all take the mound in the series in hopes of getting the Rays off to a solid 2016 campaign.
Until then, a few more spring games need to be played, including Wednesday afternoon down in Port Charlotte where the Red Sox would cruise into town for the fifth meeting between the two clubs in March. The Rays hold a 3-1 lead on the spring and sent lefty Drew Smyly to the hill to try and close out the series strong.
The Rays bats got started early off Boston starter William Cuevas in the bottom of the first inning after a lightning fast top of the first from Smyly. Brandon Guyer led off with a single to right field and Brad Miller followed things up with a double off the right field wall that scored Guyer. Miller was gunned down at third trying to stretch the double, however.
Smyly was locked in Wednesday not giving up a base runner until a lead off walk to Brock Holt in the fourth inning. His day would be done after four shutout innings with just the one walk his only blemish. Danny Farqhuar would take over in the fifth and pitch to two hitters giving up a base hit and striking out the next two before Cash would go to the bullpen to get Dana Eveland some work. James Loney would make his second nifty defensive play of the game to help Eveland get the final out of the inning and keep Hanley stranded at second base.
Smyly’s final spring outing put a smile on the face of his skipper.
“He was outstanding,” Cash said after the game.
Erasmo Ramirez, who will start the season in the bullpen for the Rays, pitched a perfect sixth inning and Brad Miller would deposit his second home run of the spring into the right field bullpen to extend the lead to 4-0 heading into the seventh inning.
Enny Romero would have a rough seventh for the Rays. Struggling with command from the first pitch, he allowed an RBI double to Hanley to put the Red Sox on the board and after Travis Shaw’s bloop single to left just got over the head of Daniel Robertson at short, a double play ball would make it a one-run ballgame as a run scored on the twin killing as well.
Andrew Bellatti shut down the Red Sox in the eighth and ninth innings to record the ‘ol fashion two-out save, his first of the spring, as the Rays held on to win, 4-3.
After the game, some tough decisions were quickly made official as the final 25-man roster starts to take better shape before the weekend.
Cash broke the news that catcher Rene Rivera had been released and Richie Shaffer and Matt Andriese had been optioned to Durham. Not long after the conference with Cash, James Loney informed the media that he was told he would not make the final roster and Wednesday day’s game was his last day on the club. It was later announced as a mutual agreement between the first baseman and the Rays to part ways.
The other move of the day was pitcher David Carpenter also being released.
“Little bit of a difficult day today,” Cash said of the moves Wednesday afternoon. “Rene has been with us all year. Did some really good things this spring. It just wasn’t a good fit.”
Cash was not available for comment on the Loney move as it was announced after his press conference.
The Rays will take on the Pirates tomorrow at 1:05 in their final home game of the spring at Charlotte Sports Park. Jake Odorizzi will get his final start of the exhibition season.
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