9/24/2013 9:50 P.M. ET
Gomes a fresh, reliable arm out of Rays 'pen
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Brandon Gomes has been a force out of the Rays' bullpen in recent outings.
The right-hander entered Tuesday's series opener against the Yankees having recorded the win in three of his last six appearances. On Monday, he entered Tampa Bay's 5-4 win over the Orioles in the top of the fifth to face Adam Jones after Chris Davis walked with one out. Gomes struck out Jones swinging for the second out, then gave way to Alex Torres.
Gomes struck out both batters he faced on Sunday against the Orioles, and on Wednesday against the Rangers, he struck out Ian Kinsler swinging to end the inning before the Rays won, 4-3, in walk-off fashion in the 12th.
Gomes missed much of the season with a right lat strain, but he now feels healthy and fresh.
"I felt good earlier in the year, prior to the lat strain, but I feel like right now, mechanically, it's the best I've felt in a couple of years," Gomes said.
Gomes has not been scored upon in his last six outings and has allowed just two baserunners while striking out five in 3 2/3 innings. His recent success followed a rough outing against the Angels on Sept. 2, when he allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning.
In the aftermath of that outing, Gomes rediscovered a missing element to his mechanics.
"I got kind of hit around by the Angels," Gomes said, "so I went back and looked at some film and kind of adjusted some things. I went back to what I had been doing prior to last year. I just feel like I have a little more whip in my arm and better control of my offspeed stuff. I'm just trying to continue to do it and pick the team up whenever I can."
Gomes is healthy, he's found his mechanics and he's fresh at a competitive time of the season, which are all pleasing aspects to the native of Fall River, Mass.
"Things happen for a reason," Gomes said. "I have a lot fewer appearances than a lot of these guys. The fact that I am fresh, comparatively speaking, is a good thing. I can pick up some guys if they're tired or need a day here or there. I'll gladly take the ball whenever they need me.
"We're all here to pitch in big games. I think we all thrive in that situation, and that little extra adrenaline definitely helps, as far as sharpness."
Rays lose Escobar, Lobaton; both day to day
NEW YORK -- Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar and catcher Jose Lobaton had to leave Tuesday night's series opener against the Yankees due to injuries.
Escobar has a sore left ankle, and Lobaton has a bruised right elbow. Both are considered day to day.
In the bottom of the fourth, Yankees catcher Chris Stewart slid hard into Escobar, who was covering second base on a forceout with Ichiro Suzuki at the plate. Escobar remained in the game, but when his turn to bat came in the top of the fifth, Kelly Johnson pinch-hit for him.
Ben Zobrist moved from second base to shortstop, while Johnson filled Zobrist's spot at second.
Lobaton caught through the fifth inning before Jose Molina pinch-hit for him in the sixth and took over the Rays' catching duties.
Maddon sees both sides of roster debate
NEW YORK -- Rays manager Joe Maddon has never been a proponent of expanding rosters to 40 players in September, having noted earlier this season -- and in years past -- that he felt there should be at the very least a nightly limit on how many players can be active for any given game during the month.
The Rays' active roster currently sits at 37 players, and Maddon managed a smile about his using the extra players to the team's advantage.
"While it's there, you've got to utilize it," Maddon said. "We've talked about that in the past. Again, there has to be a lot of thought put into that regarding the number of people who are active, because even on an expanded roster, you're going to include starting pitchers, so how are you going to deal with that thought regarding the number that are active on a particular day? So I think moving forward, you're going to see [a limit] eventually. Right now it's benefiting us, but there are times when it can hurt you, too."
Maddon was asked if he felt more like a football coach, given the size of his roster.
"I can't deny that it's kind of nice," Maddon said. "But a part of this, you get a bunch of guys and have this large of a number and you're afraid to utilize them. We have a large number we're not afraid to use because you feel like they can contribute and they're not overwhelmed by the moment."
• Desmond Jennings, sidelined with a tight left hamstring, was out of the starting lineup again on Tuesday night. Maddon reported that he had no update on Jennings, who played catch on Tuesday but did not run.
• Jennings' injury could open up some doors for Tim Beckham to get more playing time than he was originally thought to receive during his September callup. Beckham has been impressive thus far, entering Tuesday with two hits in six at-bats, as well as a sacrifice fly on Monday, when he started at second base.
• No decision has been made regarding the Rays' starter for Friday night's contest in Toronto, but Maddon did allow that the decision will be between right-handers Jeremy Hellickson and Jake Odorizzi.
• In 81 home dates this season, the Rays drew 1,510,300 fans -- an average of 18,646 per game.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.