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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Rays Notes: McGee hoping for All-Star nod

— The players received their All-Star game ballots Friday, and LHP Jake McGee went over his before the first game of the day/night doubleheader with the Orioles.

This is the third season McGee has seen his name on the ballot given to players, and unlike the first two years, this is the first time he can garner enough votes to earn a spot in the July 15 game in Minneapolis.

“I don't want to get my hopes up too much, because you never know,” McGee said. “There's only been so many middle relievers who made it in the past 10 years. I don't want to stress about it too much. If it happens, it's cool. If not, I won't be too disappointed.”

Actually, there have been 15 non-closer relievers to pitch in the All-Star game since 2004. McGee has been building a case to represent the Rays all season.

He earned his second save during the first game Friday with a perfect ninth inning in the Rays' 5-2 victory. He has 40 strikeouts and has allowed only 18 hits in his 34 innings.

Manager Joe Maddon has been touting McGee as an All-Star the past few weeks, and McGee is the only real candidate the Rays have this summer.

“Jake McGee is doing what you think he could do,” Maddon said. “He's been very dominant.”

Each team has four relief pitchers on the players' ballots. RHP Grant Balfour, RHP Joel Peralta and RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo are the other relievers from the Rays.

McGee was named to three all-star teams in the minor leagues. He played in the low Single-A and high Single-A games, but he missed the Double-A game in 2008 because of Tommy John elbow surgery.

McGee's wife, Morgan, is expecting the couple's first baby July 17. McGee said they plan to have labor induced July 9 so Morgan will deliver on July 10, which is an off day.

While he doesn't want to get hopes up, McGee wouldn't mind representing his team at Target Field.

“I think everyone wants to be on the All-Star team,” McGee said. “It's a cool experience.”

Double-play dilemma

The Rays turned two double plays in the first game Friday, bringing their total through the first 81 games to 42. They hit into one double play, raising that total to 74.

The reason for the gap is strikeouts. Rays pitchers are recording a lot of them, while Rays hitters are striking out less this season.

“I think it's a combination of strikeouts, (and) ball in the air,” Maddon said. “There have been times we've had opportunities to turn and have not, but I think there's less opportunities based on the way our guys have been pitching.”

Rays pitchers began play Friday with a major league-low 1.19 ground ball to fly ball ratio.

As for the offense, the Rays have struck out 557 times going into the first game of the doubleheader. That's the fourth-fewest amount of strikeouts by an AL team.

“Offensively, be careful what you wish for,” Maddon said. “We used to strikeout a lot and not hit into double plays. Now we don't strikeout a lot and hit into double plays. Therein lies the rub with that: we make more contact, but it's just been fungoes right at the infielder, and some of it has been less-than-hard contact, too.”

Show stopper

RHP Chris Archer sang Usher's“Burn” during Wednesday's fashion show to benefit the Children's Dream Fund.

“Brought the women to their knees,” LHP David Price said.

Someone had bid $3,000 for Archer to sing the song.

“Three grand, I had to get into it,” Archer said.

The event raised a record $90,000.

Escobar update

SS Yunel Escobar missed his second and third games Friday since suffering a sore shoulder Tuesday against the Pirates.

“He felt better, but he's still tight,” Maddon said between games of the doubleheader.

Maddon said he doesn't think Escobar will need to go on the DL, but added, “I would imagine if he goes out (today) and something happens when he throws, the status might change.”


RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right elbow surgery) pitched only three innings Friday during his rehab start at Triple-A Durham. He allowed one run on five hits, walked one and struck out one. He threw 55 pitches, 33 for strikes. … 1B James Loney had a six-game hitting streak snapped during the first game Friday … The Rays scored 300 runs through 81 games, matching the fewest they've scored at the halfway point since 1998.

Roger Mooney

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