4/27/2014 1:50 P.M. ET
Loney fields praise for play at first base
By Tony Meale / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- James Loney went 3-for-4 with three singles in Saturday's 4-0 win over the White Sox, but his most important contribution of the night may have come defensively at first base.
With the Rays leading 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, starter Cesar Ramos loaded the bases with two outs, as Jose Abreu -- who hit a wak-off grand slam the previous night -- came to the plate. Abreu slapped a weak grounder down the third-base line, which was fielded by a charging Evan Longoria, who fired a one-hopper to first base. Loney picked the throw cleanly to record the third out and get out of the inning unscathed.
If Loney doesn't make that pick, the lead is cut to 2-1, the bases are still loaded and Dayan Viciedo is walking to the plate.
"He's pretty spectacular with all of that," Joe Maddon said of Loney. "Watch him. I mean, when the ball leaves the fielder's hand, he kind of puts himself in a position to read it, kind of gets a little bit lower and kind of coils back and just reads the whole thing from the moment the ball is thrown. It's really unqiue."
Loney, 29, is also hitting .321 with a team-leading 15 RBIs.
"We feel very fortunate to have him here for several years to come," Maddon said.
Hanigan catches on quickly with Rays
CHICAGO -- The Rays acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan from Cincinnati this past offseason, and if the first month of 2014 is any indication, they're sure happy they made that deal.
Hanigan, always known for his ability to manage a staff -- not to mention any pitch in the dirt -- has been swinging the bat with authority this year. His .255 average won't wow you, but he's tied for the team lead with three home runs and is tied for second, with Matt Joyce, with 14 RBIs.
Not bad for a guy doing most of his damage out of the nine-spot in the order.
"I want to swing it," the 33-year-old Hanigan said. "I want to be a complete player, no doubt. I'm feeling good at the plate."
Hanigan went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs in Saturday's 4-0 win over the White Sox. His second-inning double to left scored James Loney and Logan Forsythe to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
"I feel like I had four really good at-bats," Hanigan said. "My swing feels good right now."
So does his command of the pitching staff. Hanigan helped Cesar Ramos to his first career win as a starter on Saturday. Ramos, who was making his sixth career start, held Chicago's potent lineup in check, allowing five hits over five-plus shutout innings.
The key moment came in the fifth inning, when Ramos coaxed a grounder from dangerous rookie Jose Abreu to get out of a bases-loaded jam.
"Getting out of jams is what it comes down to," said Hanigan, who played for the Reds from 2007-13 and caught two no-hitters. "When things are going good, things can roll pretty smoothly, but when the pressure gets on, you got to make pitches and get out of situations. To keep them under control like that was huge."
Hanigan's influence, even in the first month of the season, is not lost on manager Joe Maddon.
"He's having good at-bats, and he's doing a great job behind the plate -- one of the finest blockers I've ever been around," Maddon said. "And just how much he cares, it's outstanding."
"He's made some blocks you're not supposed to make. They're just ridiculous. It just tells you how much he's involved in every moment of the game, whether it's at the plate or behind the plate. He's a pro, man. He fits every team. Every team would love to have him. He's a different cat."
Rays had Minor details about Sunday opponent
CHICAGO -- The Rays didn't know a whole lot about the pitcher they were facing on Sunday afternoon in Chicago, but they weren't exactly in the dark, either.
That's because 29-year-old Scott Carroll, who was making his Major League debut, had pitched against Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate in Durham.
"It helps a little bit, the fact that you're getting a little bit of advanced information," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I guess he's a lifer. He's played for different teams. I really appreciate that guy that has struggled to get in and finally gets his moment. I think it's great for him."
Carroll, a third-round Draft pick by the Reds in 2007, has been with the White Sox organization since 2012. The righty was 3-1 with a 1.57 ERA in four Triple-A starts this season.
"From our perspective, we got a little info," Maddon said. "I guess he's a sinker guy, gets the ball on the ground a lot, a little bit of a slider pticher. We'll see."
Maddon's approach to Sunday's game was a simple one: Don't make mistakes, and make Carroll work.
"You really have to make them earn their outs," Maddon said. "You don't want to make any mistakes on the bases. When you're facing a first-timer -- or just a young pitcher in general -- to make outs on the bases really bothers me. So I want us to be aware of that and make him earn all his outs."
Ramos hoping for longer looks in future
CHICAGO -- By all accounts, Cesar Ramos' start against the White Sox on Saturday was a success. He pitched five-plus shutout innings, threw a career-high 65 pitches and got his first career victory as a starter.
But he wanted to pitch longer.
Ramos was replaced by reliever Brandon Gomes after walking Dayan Viciedo to open the sixth inning. Joe Maddon did not want Ramos facing Paul Konerko, who was 2-for-2 off Ramos in the game.
"I really wanted him to go farther into that game," Maddon said. "I really did. But again, Konerko was the blockade right there for me. I've just seen him too many times in big moments really make it hurt. If it was a different lineup constitution yesterday, I probably would have done something differently with him. I might have left him out there a little bit longer, but I really thought it was important to get Gomes in the game at that time."
Gomes got Konerko to ground into a double play.
"I was hoping to be able to get some outs in the sixth," Ramos said, "but the way the game was, it was too close to call. Gomer came in and did a hell of a job."
Still, Ramos is pleased with his progress. After giving up four runs in two innings to Cincinnati, he's allowed just one run in 10 innings against the Yankees and White Sox.
"Hopefully with every outing that trust [from Maddon] will get stronger and we'll get the pitch count up and get into the sixth and seventh," Ramos said. "I'll go as deep as I can."
Maddon is perfectly fine with that.
"Just keep doing what he's doing," Maddon said. "He's been so pitch-efficient. It's coming for him. I think when we took him out against New York, he was really okay wth that. Yesterday, he might have wanted to stay out there a little bit longer, and I don't blame him. But that was basically based on my experience against Konerko."
Tony Meale is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.