Update: Due to last nights rain out, we re-purposed this piece, adapting it for today’s game against the Blue Jays.
The Rays reasserted themselves Tuesday, handing Doug Fister and the Tigers an 11-5 loss thanks in part to a fourth inning Luke Scott grand slam, and a two-run, sixth inning, Shelley Duncan blast. Tampa Bay’s 11-run offensive explosion followed a pair of losses to the Red Sox where the Rays scored a total of three runs.
Jeremy Hellickson got the start on the mound and looked shaky early on, giving up three runs in the first and second innings. Helly inevitably calmed down and threw four solid innings of shutout baseball. Posting a 6 IP/8 H/3 R/3 ER/3 K slash line, Hellickson trimmed his Grapefruit League ERA to 4.97 and now has 10 strikeouts and only one walk in his four total outings.
Kyle Farnsworth and Dane De La Rosa both put together solid outings, combining for two shutout innings, while relenting only one hit. Brandon Gomes had a rough outing, yielding his first runs of the spring following an eighth inning Devon Travis two-run homer.
The Rays were down 3-1 until Jose Lobaton, Desmond Jennings, and Luke Scott opened the flood gates, putting together a six run fourth inning. Lobaton and Jennings both singled in runs and were on base when a two-out walk to Matt Joyce loaded the bases and brought Scott to the plate.
Tigers pitcher Doug Fister tried to bury a sinker against him to induce a ground out, but Scott jumped it and sent it over the right-field scoreboard for his third homer of the spring. Tampa Bay ultimately knocked Fister out of the game after 3-2/3 innings and 83 pitches. The Rays tacked on four more runs in the sixth inning, thanks in part to a Shelley Duncan two-run blast.
The Rays are now 14-9 in Grapefruit League play, with T-Minus 12 days and counting until opening day on April 2nd. Matt Moore, who didn’t start yesterday due to the rain out, will pitch on the backfield, while Roberto Hernandez will get the start against the Blue Jays in Port Charlotte. Joel Peralta, Jake McGee and Cesar Ramos are, presumably, still slated to pitch for the Rays as well. Those in the lineup yesterday will also start today, and we’ll post the starting lineup when it becomes available.
Rays 3/21/13 Starting Lineup:
- Congrats to Fernando Rodney and the Dominican Republic for finishing the WBC as champions! The Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico by a score of 3-0 in a soggy Tuesday night game in San Francisco. Rodney ended his WBC tenure with seven saves and a 0.00 ERA, relenting only one hit in 7-1/3 innings of work. Hooray! We longer have to watch as Edwin Encarnacion and Robinson Cano shoot the moon following a Rodney save!
- Speaking of Fernando Rodney, the Rays closer returned to camp Thursday after being named to the All-World Baseball Classic team. According to Bill Chastain of MLB.com, “Rays manager Joe Maddon said the team plans to work him back into the swing of things gradually, noting that he won’t pitch in an actual exhibition game for five or six days.”
- The Rays also welcomed Jose Molina back to camp Thursday. Molina didn’t get much work in during the WBC, only getting three at-bats in his time with the Puerto Rico team. Maddon and Co. will be cautious not to push him too hard now. “J-Mo, we’ve just to get working,” Maddon said. “Knowing him, he’s going to be fine, I just don’t know how sharp (he will be) maybe offensively, that’s the part. Defensively it shouldn’t be that big of a concern.”
- Sam Fuld (right hamstring tightness) reportedly “felt good” after going through “close to normal” base-running drills in Port Charlotte Tuesday. The next step in his recovery could be getting at-bats in a minor-league game as a way to ease his way back. Tjose at-bats wouldn’t include playing the field just yet. Rays skipper Joe Maddon said Fuld will likely get in a game by Friday or Saturday and, is still on track for opening day.
- Joel Peralta worked a 10-pitch inning in a minor-league game Tuesday, striking out one and picking off one who reached on an error.