Tampa Bay won the first game of a four game set against the Marlins Monday by a score of 10-6, in what could be construed as a (relatively) poorly pitched outing — at least as it related to Jake Odorizzi and Josh Lueke. The Rays persevered though, thanks to Kelly Johnson who had a huge two-homer, six RBI, day at the plate.
You’d never know that the Marlins are a team starved for runs by the way they smacked Odorizzi and Lueke around. Odorizzi couldn’t make it through the fifth inning, and was subsequently pulled in favor of Josh Lueke after allowing nine base runners (on eight hits, one walk, and two HBP) and six earned runs over the course of four plus innings. Odorizzi was able to throw his fastball, curveball, and changeup for strikes, though he left too may hittable fastballs in the zone and got punished in doing so. To be fair, Lueke came into a sticky bases loaded situation with no outs, and it would have been next to impossible for Lueke to get out of things completely unscathed. However, that he only gave up three runs seemed to be a minor miracle.
Jake McGee and Joel Peralta followed Lueke, combining for three scoreless innings of one hit ball. In contrast to some of his earlier outings, McGee looked particularly good. As Steve Slowinski of DRaysBay noted, “His (McGee) location still wasn’t perfect, but it was considerably better and he even mixed in four sliders.” McGee ultimately got the win after putting together a 23 pitch (16 for strikes) two inning outing, setting up Peralta well.
Rodney came on to close things out in the ninth. I certainly wouldn’t say that he looked like the arrow-shooting Rodney of 2012 after a 21 pitch (11 for strikes) outing, though he showed signs of getting closer to his dominant form. Rodney used his changeup effectively, accruing a pair of strikeouts to end the game. I’m still waiting for the day that Fernando is able to string together more than two consecutive 1-2-3 outings.
The real story of the game surrounded Kelly Johnson, or as I like to call him The Rays Offense. Johnson ended the day with a pair of three-run homers (a second inning blast to right, and an eighth inning missile to right-center) and six runs batted in. Kelly also hit a single and a double in between homers, coming within a mere triple of hitting for the cycle. Johnson met — or tied — a number of records Sunday:
- One of three Rays to hit two homers HR and accrue six-plus RBI in a game. The other two: Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena.
- The first Ray with six or more RBI in single game since Ben Zobrist on 4/28/11 in Minnesota.
- The sixth Ray to have 11 total bases in a single game. The others: Longoria, Upton, Fuld, Baldelli & Gomes.
- The first player in Rays history with two three-run homers in a game.
Per Jason Collette,
“Kelly Johnson now hitting .355/.388/.724 in the month of May with 7 HR, 24 RBI in 82 plate appearances.”
The New What Next
Jeremy Hellickson will try to string together his second straight quality start, against Kevin Slowey and the Miami Marlins. You can read about tonight’s pitching match-up here.
Rays 5/28/13 Starting Lineup
1. Ben Zobrist 2B
2. Matt Joyce RF
3. Kelly Johnson LF
4. Evan Longoria 3B
5. James Loney 1B
6. Luke Scott DH
7. Desmond Jennings CF
8. Jose Lobaton C
9. Yunel Escobar SS
SP Hellickson RHP
- Per Steve Slowinski,
As Tommy Rancel recently noted over at ESPN’s SweetSpot blog, Johnson has adopted a new stance this year and is being more selective in which pitches he swings at, and the early results have paid off. As of right now, he has 10 home runs and a .394 wOBA, second on the team behind Evan Longoria.