Let’s review last night’s 8-3 win:
A) Jeremy Hellickson was dominant.
B) The Rays were electric at the plate.
C) The ninth was ugly, but Ramos limited the damage.
Better yet, let’s use that outline as a template for this game summary.
Jeremy Hellickson Was Dominant
Simply put, the subtitle says it all. Hellickson was stellar in his 7 IP/6 H/1 ER/0 BB/9 K/100 pitches (70 for strikes) outing. Helly went primal, attacking the zone with his fastball and change-up, and only using his curveball eight times when he needed to. His 70% K/BB speaks to that. The Rays righty did a great job of pitching to the corners, getting seven of his nine strikeouts on the outer and inner reaches of the plate. Jason Collette of the Process Reported noted that Hellickson’s approach against the White Sox biggest threat, Adam Dunn, was perfect,
“Hellickson faced Dunn three times in last night’s start and needed just 14 pitches to hand Dunn a hat trick on the evening. Hellickson threw mostly well-located fastballs to Dunn along with a handful of change-ups catching Dunn looking once and swinging at strike three twice.”
Collette went on to note, “Matt Moore and the Rays strategists will need a different approach in today’s game as Moore rarely throws his change-up to same-handed hitters, preferring instead to attack them with fastballs and breaking balls.”
The Rays Were Electric At the Plate
The Rays swarmed starter Dylan Axelrod Friday night, knocking him out of the game after only 1-2/3 innings of work. Every starter got a hit, in a game that was effectively over by the end of the second inning. Hell, even Jose Molina and Luke Scott got in on the fun.
Scott lead off the second inning by crushing a double up the right-field line. Jose Molina brought him home two batters later, hammering a two-run shot to left-field, putting the Rays up by a pair of runs early. A batter later, Kelly Johnson crushed a mammoth 415 foot blast to right, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead. Tampa Bay wasn’t done scoring though.
Desmond Jennings hit his first of three singles to center in the next at-bat, quickly swiping the first of two bags to put himself in scoring position. Evan Longoria plated Jennings on a single to left, technically giving the Rays all the runs they’d need on the night. A very hot James Loney was next, hitting the second of two singles and moving Longo into scoring position. Finally, Wil Myers capped off a five run inning by doubling to left, driving in Longoria and giving the Rays a commanding 5-0 lead.
Tampa Bay went on to score three more insurance runs in the fourth and fifth innings, giving the Rays their fourth five run (or greater) game in five days. The key to the Rays success? Rays skipper Joe Maddon feels that it comes down to working better at-bats. “We are just not expanding our strike zone,” Maddon said in his post game presser. All in all, Tampa Bay went 5-17 wRISP while scoring four runs with two outs.
It should be noted that Desmond Jennings put together his second consecutive multi-hit game, while James Loney extended his hitting streak to 16. The Rays cannot take their offensive prowess for granted going into tonight’s game against Chris Sale. Even though his win/loss record may not reflect it, Sale has been flat-out spectacular this season. Again, his record has more to do with a lack of run support than it does with any issues on his part — a 2.79 ERA/.210 BAA speaks to that.
The Ninth Was Ugly, But Ramos Limited the Damage
After quickly getting the Rays’ tenth strikeout of the night to start the ninth inning, Cesar Ramos gave up four consecutive singles and a sac-fly to bring the White Sox within five runs of Tampa Bay. With only one out and the bases juiced, Joe Maddon decided to get Jake McGee up in the pen, just in case. Ramos, thankfully, mustered enough to mop up his mess and get the next two batters — Tekotte and De Aza — to ground-out and end the game.
The New What Next
As I mentioned above, Matt Moore will take on Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox Saturday night. Joe Maddon said it best, the match-up promises to be a low scoring affair. I couldn’t agree more. You can read about tonight’t match-up here.
Rays 7/6/13 Starting Lineup
- Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, Cobb “felt great during a 29-pitch bullpen session.” This was Cobb’s first bullpen session since being concussed on June 15th. Cobb is reportedly still is dealing with vertigo when he tilts his head a certain way, but he is expected to see drastic improvement over the next couple of weeks. He has also passed his first set of concussion-related tests, though there is still no timeline for his return.
- Tampa Bay has won nine of their last 12 games, and are now seven games over .500 (47-40), tying their season high mark.
- Wil Myers 13 RBI through the first 18 games are the most in Rays history, matching the Braves Evan Gattis for most in the first 18 games of this season.
- Ben Zobrist is back at second and hitting third after a mental health day. Evan Longoria’s foot must be feeling better, because he’s back at third and hitting fourth. James Loney is, surprisingly, scratched from the lineup, in favor of Sean Rodriguez. And Sam Fuld will take over the left-field duties, with a tough lefty on the bump.