The Tampa Bay Rays were able to bounce back from a disappointing 5-0 loss Saturday, demolishing the Cleveland Indians by a score of 11-3 Sunday. Tampa Bay has now won its second consecutive series — on the road no less — while improving to 4-1 on the current road trip.
The offense and the bullpen royally handed it to the Tribe, tagging Cleveland for 11 runs on 10 hits (including a double, triple, and a pair of homers) and five walks, while stifling a productive team who could only muster two base runners from the fifth inning on. This isn’t to say things went perfectly, case in point Hellickson’s outing. However, the offense was once again able to put on a show, as was the ever improving bullpen. Bulleted highlights and low-lights are below.
- Let’s start with the obvious, the offense. The Rays were able to score in all but three innings, consistently applying the pressure to the Indians pitching staff. They were also able to do something that no other team has; tag Jason McAllister for four or more runs. Hell, they’ve been able to do it in consecutive outings! With five of the 11 runs coming while he was at the helm, the Rays were able to knock McAllister out of the game with one out in the fifth inning. Not content with just five runs, Tampa Bay tacked on six more runs in the sixth and eighth innings, crushing any and all hopes of an Indians rally…not that a rally would have been possible against the pen on this fine day.
- The usual suspects — Matt Joyce, Kelly Johnson, Evan Longoria, James Loney, and Yunel Escobar — were incredibly productive. The five aforementioned players accounted for nine of the Rays 11 hits, including three of the Rays four extra base hits. The productivity didn’t end with a myriad of hits though, they also crossed the plate seven times and plated eight runs.
- It would be unconscionable to overlook Sam Fuld and Jose Lobaton’s contributions. Fuld started the fourth inning with a bang, lining a triple up the right-field line. The play wasn’t without controversy though; the ball ricocheted off the wall and subsequently off the swarthy ball boy before it was fielded and fired back into play. Jose Lobaton (2-4, RBI, R) plated Fuld in the very next at bat. They would combine to go 4-9 with two runs and an RBI.
- Don’t look now, the Rays bullpen are performing the way we thought they would, as evidenced by another solid outing. Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, and Fernando Rodney came on in relief of Jeremy Hellickson, and put together a combined 4 IP/2 H/0 R/0 BB/2 K line. That’s right, I used Farnsworth’s nom de plume in a complimentary manner. In fact, with the exception of Santana’s single, Farnsworth looked damn good. Farnsy would go on to induce a fly-out, a fielders choice, and a swinging strikeout to retire the three batters who followed Santana in the lineup. And just when you petulant little whiners wanted to send Fernando Rodney packing, he put together a six pitch outing, peacefully putting the final three batters out of their misery. Look I get it it, Rodney still hasn’t fully regained my trust either. However before you find a new closer on your fantasy roster, there’s a little saying that the Rays abide by: Respect the process. They are being mindful of the process, and guess what? Rodney seems to be coming around. Rodney’s now strung together 5-1/3 consecutive innings of no hit baseball, while walking only one batter along the way. Will he be the Rodney of 2012? That’s highly improbable. Besides, it’d be foolish to assume that he could be that at this point. However that doesn’t negate his effectiveness from this point forward.
- One word: Hellickson. Helly looked good in the front three innings, but lost it after throwing 55-60 pitches. Ultimately posting a 5 IP/9 H/3 R/3 ER/0 BB/4 K line, Hell-boy was pulled in favor of Kyle Farnsworth between the fifth and sixth innings. His location wasn’t the problem, a 70% K/BB speaks to that. However Hellickson left very hittable pitches in the zone and got beaten up, especially in the fourth inning. Truth told, pulling Hellickson in between innings seemed odd — he had a fairly clean fifth inning, and he’d only thrown 82 pitches (57 for strikes) up to that point. I’d imagine though that Maddon or Hickey must have seen something in his delivery, something that would spell the end for Helly early on.
- Suffice to say, home plate umpire Bill Welke’s strike zone was insanely liberal Sunday. He ejected Terry Francona from the game, after the Indians skipper argued balls and strikes from the dugout.
The New What Next
After an off-day Monday, the 31-25 Tampa Bay Rays will make their way to Comerica Park to take on the Tigers in a three game set. We’ll have the series preview ready at some point prior.