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Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer

Marc Topkin

Marc Topkin has covered baseball for the Times since 1987 — from the lengthy effort to secure a team, to the awarding of the Tampa Bay franchise in 1995, and through each of the Rays seasons starting in 1998. He has traveled throughout the United States with the team, as well as to Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan, and has covered All-Star Games and the World Series, as well as Super Bowls and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Phone: (727) 893-8801

Email: [email protected]

Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays


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  1. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: LH Blake Snell (4-6, 4.01)

    YANKEES: LH Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06)

    On Snell: Coming off strong outing vs. Cubs, seven scoreless innings, two hits. Is unbeaten over 10 starts since July 24. 2-1, 2.73 in seven starts vs. Yanks, allowing one or no earned runs four times....

    This image shows New York Yankees' Jordan Montgomery Tuesday Feb. 21, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. This photo represents the team's roster as of Feb. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)32
  2. Rays' Blake Snell erasing memories of his poor start

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — As Blake Snell strides up the mound at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night with an 10-game unbeaten streak, doesn't the miserable start to his sophomore season, when he was winless in eight starts and got demoted to Triple-A, seem like a long time ago?

    To him, too.

    "Far away," Snell said. "I think it feels so far because I've changed so much, and I've gotten a lot better. It's been good. It's been a process that I've enjoyed. It sucked at first, but I knew that wasn't who I was going to be. So it was good trusting myself and to see it translate to where I am now."...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) in the dugout during the fourth inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Chris Archer's primary problem Sunday, as in much of September, was a lack of slider command. When he can't throw it where he wants, and doesn't have the confidence in the changeup to throw it often, he can't win with just his fastball.

    The O's unexpectedly switched about 90 minutes before game time to RHP Chris Tillman rather than RHP Dylan Bundy (sore hamstring) and the Rays took advantage, scoring four in two innings. But getting blanked after that, held to six hits, did them in....

  4. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Couldn't command his slider, couldn't keep the Orioles from scoring six times, couldn't get through even four innings in the 9-4 loss.

    "Just wasn't a great day for me," Archer said.

    He has had a few of those recently. Too many. Four times in the past five starts, if you count the Sept. 2 game in Chicago that he left three batters in due to forearm tightness that started this slide, he hasn't gotten past four innings....

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  5. Rays journal: Chris Archer declining to protest in deference to teammates

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Chris Archer agrees with the message and how Oakland C Bruce Maxwell handled presenting his view Saturday in becoming the first major-league player to kneel during the national anthem.

    But Archer, the most socially conscious of the Rays, said he won't — at least now — take similar action in deference to teammates with differing opinions.

    "Hopefully we can just have change going forward. We've been talking about it enough, but the change of people's outlook on other people and human rights, hopefully happens from this," Archer said....

    Chris Archer, the most socially conscious of the Rays, said he won't kneel for the national anthem - at least for now. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  6. Rays up next: at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, New York

    The Heater

    Today: Off

    Up next: at Yankees, 7:10 Tuesday, Yankee Stadium

    Probable pitchers: Rays, LH Blake Snell (4-6, 4.01); Yankees, RH Luis Severino (13-6, 3.03)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    On deck

    Wednesday: at Yankees, 7:05. Rays, RH Matt Andriese (5-4, 4.44); Yankees, LH Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06)

    Thursday: at Yankees, 7:05. Rays, RH Alex Cobb (12-10, 3.66) or RHP Jake Faria (5-4, 3.33); Yankees, RH Sonny Gray (10-11, 3.31)...

  7. Here kitty, kitty ...

    Blog

    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    From left: LHP Jose Alvardo, INF Daniel Robertson, OF Cesar Puello (squatting), veteran RHP Alex Colome, interpreter Manny Navarro, RHP Andrew Kittredge, batting practice thrower Todd Silverman, RHP Ryne Stanek, LHP Blake Snell (rear), strength and conditioning assistant Joey Greany, RHP Jake Faria, RHP Austin Pruitt.
  8. Chris Archer knocked out early as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

    Trying to put a good finish on his season, Archer instead faltered again, failing to get through the fourth inning as he allowed six runs on eight hits and a walk. While it wasn't all his fault, as several singles got through holes in the infield, Archer had to shoulder much of the blame, allowing four straight hits in a four-run first and a two-run homer to JJ Hardy — in his Orioles home farewell — in the fourth....

    Chris Archer has not gotten past four innings in four of his past five starts. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  9. Chris Archer falters again as Rays lose 9-4 to Orioles

    Blog

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles.

    Trying to put a good finish on his season, Archer instead faltered again, failing to get through the fourth inning as he allowed six runs on eight hits and a walk. While it wasn't all his fault, as several singles got through holes in the infield, Arch had to shoulder much of the blame, allowing four straight hits in a four-run first , and a two-run homer to JJ Hardy - in his Orioles farewell - in the fourth....

    Chris Archer failed to get through the fourth inning as he allowed six runs on eight hits and a walk.
  10. For starters: Rays at Orioles, with a different look to things

    Blog

    UPDATE, 12:40: The Orioles said Bundy was scratched due to a left hamstring strain.

    UPDATE, 12:20: Cash said he wanted to give Longoria and Souza the day off especially in advance of Monday's team off day: "They play a lot and I just felt it was time for them to get a day, and double it up with the off-day.'' ... Cash said finishing with a .500 or winning record wouldn't be any kind of consolation if they miss the playoffs: "Not really for me, I want to win 'em all. So .500, two games over, two games under, if it's not in the playoffs it's just not good enough. ... Cash said no players have talked to him about kneeling for the anthem, or about Oakland's Bruce Maxwell doing so last night. "You've seen throughout sports players are entitled to kind of voice their opinioins by doing that. If they chose to, I'd support it,'' he said. In asking a couple of Rays players about it, they declined comment. .. Cash said there has been no decision yet on whether Alex Cobb will make his scheduled start on Thursday; he seems likely to skip it based on his heavy workload (179 1/3 innings) in his first full season since Tommy John surgery.
    ...

    The Rays are starting their All-Star pitcher, Chris Archer.
  11. Rays Journal: Duda home run sets Rays record

    Blog

    BALTIMORE -- With one swing of the bat, Rays DH/1B Lucas Duda broke a team record and tied a personal mark in Saturday's game against the Orioles that was not complete at press time.

    Duda's three-run homer in the third was the Rays' 217th of the season, surpassing the team standard set last year. And it was his 30th overall of the season split between the Mets and Rays, matching his high from 2014....

    Lucas Duda, right, watches his three-run home run against the Orioles.
  12. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

    There has been too much all-or-nothing to DH/1B Lucas Duda's stint with the Rays since his late-July acquisition from the Mets, but the all has been pretty good. Saturday was the free-agent-to-be's 13th homer with the Rays and his career high-matching 30th overall....

  13. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    So that brings us to wondering and speculating what they will look like next year, pending what looks to be an offseason stacked with interesting and impactful decisions....

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  14. Rays at Orioles, 1:35 p.m. Sunday, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Today: at Orioles

    1:35, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 1250-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (9-11, 4.02)

    ORIOLES: RH Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.24)

    On Archer: Bounced back from three straight rough and abbreviated outings by working six solid innings vs. Cubs Tuesday. Is 4-7, 4.78 in 15 games vs. Orioles; 1-4, 6.06 in six games at Camden....

  15. Rays Tales: Who's the team MVP? It's a vexing proposition

    The Heater

    Given that the Rays' season is — barring a much bigger story — going to end next Sunday, this is the time to reflect on what they did over the past six months — honor the good, acknowledge the bad and note some of the more interesting.

    Typically, that starts with the MVP.

    The Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (of which I am a member) will announce the choice of its electorate Friday at the annual Clutch Hitters banquet, but I like to lay out some of the discussion here....

    Corey Dickerson, left, and Steven Souza Jr. typify the conundrum: some good, some not so good.