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Parris beaten, then bounced

TWINS 7, RAYS 3: Another rough outing marked by subpar velocity costs veteran his starting job.

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 7, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG - The plan manager Lou Piniella laid out for the Devil Rays rotation before Tuesday's game didn't make it through the third inning.

That's how long it took for Steve Parris to give up four home runs, the primary cause of the 7-3 defeat to Minnesota, and for Piniella to make yet another renovation to the ragged rotation.

Parris, who dropped to 0-3 as his ERA rose to 6.25, is out. The question of keeping Seth McClung or Jorge Sosa became moot because both are staying. And 27-year-old Jim Parque, who is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start Friday, becomes the veteran of a starting staff that has a 4-14 record and 6.62 ERA.

The Rays would appear to have four options with Parris, 35, a right-hander who made the team with an impressive spring. They could put him on the DL, move him to the bullpen, send him to the minors or release him. He becomes the third member of the opening day rotation to lose his job, following Nick Bierbrodt and Victor Zambrano. Parque was ineffective before going on the DL.

"He's out of the rotation," Piniella said. "I don't know what we're going to do. We're going to have to create a spot for Parque when he comes up Friday so we'll see what we do. I don't know. I have no idea. But I know we're going to pitch McClung Saturday and he's going to stay in the rotation and we're going to pitch Sosa on Sunday. That's about all I know."

Parris' primary problem has been a lack of velocity. "Since the start of the season it's dropped," Piniella said. "Tonight was the most visible."

Parris said his arm feels fine, but he admitted he doesn't have the arm strength he needs on a consistent basis. Of the 26 runs he has allowed, 17 have come on 11 home runs.

"My breaking ball could have been a little sharper; my fastball could have been a little better," Parris said. "Speedwise I didn't feel like I had anything today. I was just kind of floating it in there. You have a day like that with your fastball, you get beat around pretty good, which is exactly what happened."

It was the Rays' ninth straight loss to the Twins, the fourth-longest skid they've had against a team, and it wasn't much of a game for the paid crowd of 8,709, third smallest in Tropicana Field history.

The Twins took a quick 6-0 lead thanks to two home runs by Jacque Jones (who, after a 5-for-5 night, is hitting .571 against the Rays), and Tampa product/Largo resident Brad Radke (who was a few years behind Piniella at Jesuit High) did a good job holding it through seven, allowing two runs on seven hits.

The way the Twins started - 1-2-3 in the first three spots on the scoreboard - it seemed the game might quickly get out of control.

Jones started the game with a bang, hitting Parris' third pitch over the right-centerfield fence, the 17th leadoff homer of his career. The Twins got two in the second, Dustan Mohr hitting a 3-and-2 breaking ball that carried over the centerfield fence. And they got three in the third, Jones leading off with a homer, Todd Sears drawing a two-out walk and Torii Hunter knocking a 0-and-1 pitch over the leftfield fence.

The Rays' best chance came when they loaded the bases with three straight singles to open the sixth, but they got only two runs.

"You can't fall behind 6-0 after three innings," Piniella said.

Today's lineup

  • Parris beaten, then bounced
  • Catcher a two-sided threat
  • Several wounded Rays near return

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