One run on six hits wasn’t pretty, but Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 3.55 ERA), Joel Peralta (H), and Fernando Rodney’s (S) shutout certainly was! The Rays were able to hold a very dangerous —- and potent — A’s team to only three hits and a walk Saturday night at Tropicana Field, in front of 25,611 fans.
Helly was dominant by all accounts. Posting a 7.0 IP/3 H/1 BB/6 K line on 100 pitches, Hellickson cut out the pitch nibbling, challenging the A’s hitters with his four-seam fastball (36 thrown, 24 for strikes, 67% K/BB), changeup (28 thrown, 18 for strikes, 64% K/BB), and an outstanding curveball (25 thrown, 16 for strikes, 64% K/BB). As BA noted in the telecast, it would behoove Hellickson to throw off-speed stuff to start an at-bat, and that he did to great effect. He was effective in keeping the A’s hitters off balance and was very nearly un-hittable. Helly was the pillar of efficiency, hitting 20 pitches in a single inning only once.
Coming on in relief were Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney; both of whom shut down the A’s in the eighth and ninth innings. Rodney showed glimpses that he’s returning to his 2012 form. “That is more reminiscent of what we saw last year,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. Rodney hasn’t given up a run in four innings, while his location was on point Saturday following a very shaky outing Friday.
The Rays pitching may not have been as pristine was it not for the Rays defense. Desmond Jennings became the first Rays outfielder to record an unassisted double play in the third inning.
Third baseman Evan Longoria also raced into the bullpen to catch a foul ball, nearly decapitating (I may be exaggerating a bit) left-fielder Matt Joyce, among other defensive gems. Joe Maddon complimented the defense after the game, saying “The guys were in the right spots tonight.” This leads me to believe that the Rays did an excellent job of scouting the A’s prior to the game.
The only run of the game came off a solo missile by Matt Joyce in the second. Joyce looks more comfortable at the plate and the results speaking for themselves; Joyce has five hits over four games in the last two series.
Otherwise, the Rays offense was held in check by Jarrod Parker, who allowed a career-high eight runs in his last start, but held the Tampa Bay to one run on six hits and two walks. Tampa Bay had opportunities to convert runners into runs, but they ultimately went 0-1 wRISP while stranding five on the bags.
The New What Next
The Rays have now won consecutive games for only the second time this season. They’ll go for the series sweep Sunday with Roberto Hernandez on the mound. Hernandez has shown flashes of promise in his three previous starts, though they’ve been interspersed with innings of mediocrity. He’ll need to be consistent Sunday if the Rays are to sweep Oakland.
Rays 4/21/13 Starting Lineup
- With his single Saturday night, Evan Longoria has now reached base safely in his last 31 games (extending back to 2012).
- Rays top outfield prospect Wil Myers hit his first home run of the season Saturday.
- In not so great news, Rays SS prospect Hak-Ju Lee tore ligaments in his left knee turning a double play in a game Saturday. It is unlikely that he’ll return this season.
- As we mentioned yesterday, Joe Maddon brought a DJ into the clubhouse for a pre-game rave prior to Saturday’s game. His reasoning: the last few days have been too quiet. He also promised another surprise for the players Sunday. We cannot wait to see what awaits!