Tampa Bay Devil Rays Inside Pitch: 8/13

Jonny Gomes

Power-hitting OF/DH Jonny Gomes made his first major-league start in the leadoff spot as manager Joe Maddon rested 3B Akinori Iwamura and chose Gomes for his willingness to take a walk and his .388 on-base percentage against left-handers. Gomes hit leadoff somewhat regularly at Class A and AA. He was 3-for-5 Sunday.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays INSIDE PITCH 8/13

Manager Joe Maddon was hoping Edwin Jackson's Saturday night complete-game shutout would have a carryover effect on Sunday starter Jason Hammel. But Hammel needs more help than that.

As much as Jackson seems to be making progress and increasing his chances of a spot in next season's rotation, Hammel, 24, is raising questions about his future. He is now 0-2 with a 6.64 ERA in five starts this season, 0-8, 7.41 in 14 over two seasons, and has been equally ineffective as a reliever.

"Hammel's velocity was there, but overall command of his pitches was not," Maddon said. "He had a hard time throwing the ball where he wanted to... That got us in trouble." Hammel didn't look much like Jackson at all since he wasn't aggressive, didn't get ahead in the count and wasn't effective. Hammel allowed seven hits (four for extra bases, plus a couple of long outs) and four walks.

"I just wasn't throwing strikes," Hammel said. "It's that simple." Hammel said his arm felt good and he'd worked with pitching coach Jim Hickey to correct some mechanical flaws, but couldn't repeat his delivery consistently. "It's definitely frustrating," Hammel said.

RANGERS 9, RAYS 1: Even with Texas starter Kason Gabbard leaving in the second inning, the Rays couldn't do much right, stranding 13 runners. Starter Jason Hammel lasted only four innings, allowing five runs.

NOTES, QUOTES:

--Power-hitting OF/DH Jonny Gomes made his first major-league start in the leadoff spot as manager Joe Maddon rested 3B Akinori Iwamura and chose Gomes for his willingness to take a walk and his .388 on-base percentage against left-handers. Gomes hit leadoff somewhat regularly at Class A and AA. He was 3-for-5 Sunday.

--The Rays had a tough travel itinerary, flying to Boston after Sunday night's game in Texas, hoping to land by around 5:30 in the morning and get to their hotel rooms by 6:30. They have a 7:05 p.m. start in Boston on Monday.

--Red-hot OF Carl Crawford's season-high hitting streak ended at 12 games, along with his streak of eight straight multi-hit games. "That's how it goes," Crawford said.

--RHP James Shields has become one of the Rays' top starters in just one than one full season in the majors, but will have a new experience Monday, making his first career start at Fenway Park.

--3B Akinori Iwamura -- hitting .209 through the first six games of the road trip -- got Sunday off. During the three games in Texas, 1B Carlos Pena also got a day off and each starting OF -- Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Delmon Young -- got a day at DH.

--Class A Columbus OF Ryan Royster's home-run streak ended at six games, as he had only a single in three at-bats Sunday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 61 -- Career homers by Carl Crawford, good enough to move into third place on the Rays' all-time home-run list, though matching the seventh-most on the all-time list for a single season, Roger Maris in 1961.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Molten. Magma. What is there?" -- Manager Joe Maddon, trying to describe how far past red-hot Carl Crawford has been of late.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

RHP Jay Witasick (right elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 22. He made a rehab appearance Aug. 8 for Class A Vero Beach, and he was scheduled to make another minor league appearance Aug. 11.

CF Rocco Baldelli (left hamstring strain) went on the disabled list retroactive to May 16. He re-injured the hamstring while on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Durham on June 18. He might start a rehab assignment before the end of August.

RHP Jeff Niemann (shoulder fatigue) is expected to miss only two starts for Class AAA Durham. He came out of the July 30 game after throwing only five pitches. A doctor's evaluation showed no structural damage, and he is set to return to the Durham rotation Aug. 15.

C Shawn Riggans (right elbow surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list June 4. He underwent the procedure in late July to remove a "loose body" from the elbow, and he is out for the season.

RHP Doug Waechter (shoulder surgery) has been out all season. He started a rehab assignment June 22.

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