Going into the seventh inning Saturday night, Jeremy Hellickson appeared to be on cruise-control. The Rays were up 6-2 and he’d given up only two runs on three hits, while retiring 16 consecutive batters — including six strikeouts. But then Helly did something that he’d done a few times this season: he gave up four or more runs, evaporating the Rays sizable lead.
ESPN’s seventh inning synopsis sums things up well:
The culprit? Hellickson leaned heavily on his changeup because his fastball location was off. As Robbie Knopf of DRaysBay put it,
Helickson’s bread and butter is his fastball and his changeup, and when he stops using one, he’s a vastly inferior pitcher. Hellickson’s changeup is clearly his best pitch, but he has to learn to trust his fastball more or he will be in serious trouble moving forward.
Though the Rays would eke out an 8-7 victory, thanks to an Evan Longoria two-run walk-off homer in the ninth, the ultimate outcome was vastly different than that which was (practically) written in the cards. This should have been a relatively easy victory, and Helly should never have blown a big lead for Tampa Bay. It sounds redundantly familiar.
Joe Maddon was incensed, calling out a faltering Jeremy Hellickson,
“I’m not happy with that,” Maddon said. “I’m not happy with that. I’m going to tell you, I’m not happy with that. Nooooo, I’m not happy with that. That’s inappropriate. That’s got to stop. We’re better than that. We want to play in October, we got to be better than that. That cannot happen. You’re not going to be lucky, you got to be good.”
Maddon went on to say,
“(With) Guzman, he should have been able to do something right there,” Maddon said. “I felt very strongly. … He’s better than all of that. He had it on cruise control. He pitched very well. One walk, eight punchouts, but right there under those circumstances he has the ability to put that hitter away right there and get himself a win.”
On a positive note, every Ray contributed to the win that almost wasn’t. Though neither Luke Scott nor Ben Zobrist had a hit on the night, their walks proved to be big — especially Zobrist’s ninth inning walk which resulted in the Rays tying and winnings runs.
The New What Next
Roberto Hernandez and the Tampa Bay Rays will take on Eric Stults and and the Padres in the final game of this three game set. Hernandez is coming of his best outing of the year and another solid outing will surely factor into things, as the Rays attempt to get over the .500 hump for the first time this season ahead of the upcoming series against the Red Sox. Plus, a sweep on Mother’s Day would be excellent! Read more on today’s match-up here.
Rays 5/12/13 Starting Lineup
- Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, including my own!