Notes: Rays brace for twin bill
Franchise has limited history of playing doubleheaders
NEW YORK -- Saturday's day-night doubleheader is looming for the Devil Rays, bringing forth the team's first doubleheader since Sept. 30, 2004.
The most pressing issue facing the team prior to the twin bill is the question of who will start the first game.
Friday night's starter Edwin Jackson will dictate the answer.
If Jackson manages to get to the fifth inning or beyond, Jason Hammel will start Saturday's first game. If Jackson gets roughed up early, Hammel is the most likely candidate to pitch in long relief. And if Hammel pitches, right-hander Jae Kuk Ryu will start the first game.
Doubleheaders were once a staple in Major League Baseball but have now become oddities. This will be only the 12th time the Rays have played two games in one day. In addition, this is the Rays' seventh day-night split doubleheader. They have never swept a doubleheader, but they have been swept five times -- including two times at Yankee Stadium, where they have played four doubleheaders.
Saturday's games will be played at 1:05 p.m. ET and 7:05 p.m., which means there will be a two to three hour wait in between games.
"Split doubleheader, I think, is a horrible concept, but I guess that's based on attendance and everything else," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It keeps everyone there from nine o'clock in the morning until midnight when you play the next day. It's a difficult moment, but that's the way it's drawn up so we're going to do it."
Ty Wigginton tried to remember the last doubleheader he played in.
"I know we had one when I played for Pittsburgh," Wigginton said. "I just don't remember if it was '04 or '05."
Wigginton fondly remembered playing a day-night doubleheader against the Yankees when he was with the Mets and they played one game at Yankee Stadium and one at Shea Stadium.
"A regular doubleheader isn't that bad," Wigginton said. "You come in after the game, get something to eat, switch your jersey top and head back out. But this is a day-night. It's tougher, because in a regular double-header you don't have time to unwind. But a day-night [doubleheader], you come in, unwind, start to stiffen up. Next thing you know you stand up and you have to move."
Carl Crawford smiled when asked if he would try to find something fun about Saturday's doubleheader.
"What, is it going to be fun?" he said. "I don't think it's going to be fun. I'm just preparing myself for a long day."
Maddon added: "It's two baseball games on a beautiful day at Yankee Stadium. There's worse things."
C.C. on the move: Crawford stole two bases on Thursday and has six in his last four games to take over the American League lead in steals for the first time this season. Crawford recently moved back to the No. 2 spot in the order, which has helped facilitate his running more frequently.
"Well yeah, it's different," Crawford said. "And it's good to be in front of guy who is patient up to bat."
Crawford referred to No. 3 hitter B.J. Upton, who has a good eye at the plate.
Crawford is seeking his fourth AL stolen base crown. Only nine players have won four or more AL stolen base crowns. He is also trying to become the sixth to win four AL steal crowns in a five-year span and is attempting to become the seventh player to win four stolen base titles by age 26. That company currently includes Rickey Henderson, Luis Aparicio, Tim Raines, George Case, Bert Campaneris and Vince Coleman.
Crawford would like to hold onto his crown.
"Anytime you can be the winner of anything, you want to do it," Crawford said.
Up next: The doubleheader arrives on Saturday. The Rays will not decided on their first game starter until after Friday night's game, but the Yankees will start left-hander Kei Igawa in the opener. Left-hander J.P. Howell will start the second game for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Matt DeSalvo.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.