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By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Published March 3, 2008
BRADENTON - The Rays seem to like being blue.
Unbeaten in their new colors, the Rays matched the franchise record by extending their spring-opening winning streak to three Sunday with a 7-5 win over the Pirates, equaling their 2000 start as the only undefeated, untied team in the majors.
Though manager Joe Maddon kept the accomplishment in the proper perspective - joking there will be "a lot of pressure" for today's exhibition in Lakeland - he found considerable satisfaction in how they've been doing it.
"We're playing the game right right now," Maddon said. "And that's the big push for the whole year. Play it right. Doing it right, the Ray Way. That's going to be on a sign over our door on the way to the dugout."
Specifically, they've been doing a lot of little things, such as stealing bases and going first-to-third, and playing three games without making an error.
"It's just three games, but what I like is that we've been doing the things we've been talking about," Maddon said. "I'll start with the baserunning; we've spent a lot of time this spring talking about being even better, and we have been. Defensively, we have not made a lot of physical errors. ... I'm not afraid to say we've worked very hard at that.
"Offensively, good at-bats. Our two-strike approach has been better; we're not just up there punching out. We're working at-bats. We saw 154 pitches today in nine innings; that's a goal to see 145-plus.
"So we're meeting a lot of these things that we've talked about. The guys are just playing with a lot of enthusiasm right now. It's just a good vibe going on. We want to continue to ride the wave."
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Last modified March 2, 2008, 21:20:33]