Reds 5, Rays 1
Jason Hammel made his case to win a spot in Tampa Bay's starting rotation, tossing five scoreless innings in the Rays' 5-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday. Hammel walked Willy Taveras to start the game, but picked him off first base for the first out. Hammel sailed from there, allowing just two hits and striking out four. "I just went back to the aggressive approach that I was using early in camp," Hammel said. "It was basically just attack. I wasn't going to walk guys today. The one walk to Willy was pretty close." Maddon was pleased with the way Hammel commanded his fastball, pounding it low in the strike zone. He also liked the way the right-hander was able to shake off his previous outing against the Pirates, in which he allowed four runs on six hits and walked five in four innings against the Pirates. "He showed progress," Maddon said. Hammel is competing with Jeff Niemann for the final spot with the runner-up headed to the bullpen as the long man. "He and I are cheering each other on," Hammel said. "He had a great outing. Both of us have something great to offer this team. Whoever gets it is going to help us win some ballgames." Hammel, who made five starts for the Rays last April while Scott Kazmir was on the disabled list, feels he's earned that final spot in the rotation, both with the way he's pitched this spring and the way he's pitched for the Rays during the past two seasons. "That's what I told them," Hammel said. "I'm going to go out there and win games for you, if you give it to me. Let's hope they have that confidence in me." Reds starter Edinson Volquez allowed his first run of the spring when Akinori Iwamura scored on Evan Longoria's sacrifice fly in the third inning. Volquez held the Rays to four hits in five innings. The Reds went ahead on a two-run single by Jay Bruce off Jason Isringhausen in the sixth inning. Joey Votto hit his third homer of the spring for the Reds, a solo shot off J.P. Howell in the eighth inning, and Ryan Hanigan hit his second of the spring, also a solo shot, off Joe Nelson in the ninth. Notes: With Iwamura back from the WBC, the Rays were able to field their starting infield of 1B Carlos Pena, Iwamura, SS Jason Bartlett and 3B Longoria for the first time this spring.