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Rays notes: Fernandez returns to Bay area

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Published:   |   Updated: May 27, 2013 at 03:28 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

Former Alonso High standout Jose Fernandez returns to the area this afternoon when he makes the 10th start of his major-league career for the Marlins.

The right-hander, 20, is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his past two road starts. He struck out 16 and walked only three in 13 combined innings during the two games.

“I just heard he's good,” Maddon said. “I don't really know him.”

Maddon said he wasn't aware of Fernandez's ties to the area.

“Nice. I'm sure they'll be a lot of (tickets) there,” Maddon said. “It should fill the ballpark on a Monday afternoon.”

Whatever works
 
The Rays used to be a team that relied on speed and manufacturing runs to provide offense.

Recently, however, Tampa Bay has scored runs by more conventional means, with home runs and extra-base hits.

Since April 17, the Rays are the second-highest scoring team in the majors (5.5 runs per game) and rank in the top five in team batting average.

On Sunday, Tampa Bay jumped on Yankees starter CC Sabathia early, but did so by going the more unconventional route to score a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning.

With one out, Sean Rodriguez was hit by a pitch, then beat a throw to second base on a fielder's-choice grounder by Yunel Escobar. James Loney then reached on another fielder's choice as Escobar beat a Robinson Cano throw to second to load the bases.

Jose Lobaton followed with a bloop single to center field to score Rodriguez, then a sacrifice fly by Sam Fuld scored Escobar to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.

“You just put them together somehow, that's something nice, and it's something we've been able to do more readily in the past — we don't have the same speed game we've had in the past,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But to be able to scratch together against a guy like that was huge.”

No factor
 
A close play at first base could have proved costly to starting pitcher Alex Cobb after Jayson Nix was ruled safe on an infield single, although replays showed Nix was thrown out by Escobar. Nix was the only runner to reach base through six innings against Cobb, who would have had a perfect game up to that point.

“I felt strongly that the call was wrong at first base,” said Maddon, who went out to argue the call with first base umpire James Hoye. “I told the umpire that he was significantly out.”

A leadoff single by Cano to open the seventh put to end any thought of the controversy coming into play. Cobb said he moved on from the call quickly.

“I didn't even think about it (until asked after the game),” Cobb said. “Once I gave up the hit, I tried to put that behind me and attack hitters again, not let that hurt me and not let that affect me mentally going further into the game.”

Keep it going
 
RHP Jake Odorizzi was a little too excited when he made his Rays debut last week in Toronto. He allowed three runs on five hits during the first two innings, then pitched three scoreless innings before turning the game over to the bullpen.

He returns to the mound this afternoon against the Marlins hoping to pick up where he left off.

“I'm going to take the last three innings and try to carry it over to this one,” he said. “I was happy with the way we finished the other day, so I'm just going to try and build for that.”

Noteworthy
 
Lobaton has reached base in 16 of his past 17 starts. … Cobb has allowed three or fewer runs in 23 of his past 25 starts dating to July 6. … Loney's sixth-inning home run was his first off a left-handed pitcher since Sept. 28, 2011 (off Arizona's Joe Saunders). Loney hit nine home runs off right-handers in between.

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