The Rays bats showed up in grand fashion last night, scoring 12 runs on 13 hits and four walks, while handing the Twinkies a 12-6 throttling. It’s a good thing Tampa Bay was able to score those runs, because Helly didn’t quite show up with his A-game. Posting a 5 IP/7 H/ 3 ER/2 BB/3 K/1 HR line, Hellickson had to be taken out of the game at the end of the fifth, after throwing 98 pitches. (63 for strikes) Beyond another scoreless inning for JP Howell (his 22 consecutive) the pitching wasn’t what drove the narrative last night, it was what the Rays did at the plate. Let’s break it down a bit:
- Almost everyone in the lineup showed up to the party for the second game in a row. Eight Rays got at least a hit, with four Rays having a multi-hit night: Desmond Jennings (3-4, 2B, RBI, 3 R), Matt Joyce (2-4, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R), Jeff Keppinger (2-4, 2b, 2 R), and Jose Molina (2-4, 3 RBI, 2 R).
- Tampa Bay went 7-11 wRISP, while leaving only four men on base.
- Three Rays had a multi-RBI night: BJ Upton, Molina, and Joyce with two, three, and four RBI. (respectively)
- Don’t be fooled by Ben Zobrist’s 0-5 showing at the plate. Zobrist was able to work some decent at-bats, seeing some 22 pitches. Zobrist and Evan Longoria (1-3, RBI, BB) combined saw almost a third of the Twins 154 pitches.
- Put this in your pipe and smoke it: Since Longoria’s return, the Rays have posted a .328 BA/.469 SLG/.394 BABIP line with 26 runs on 42 hits, including one home run and 15 doubles. That’s an average of 6.5 runs and 10.5 hits a game.
- It’s interesting, the Rays have been able to BABIP the opposing pitching to death lately. 26 of their 42 hits in the last four games have been singles. …Oh the power of constantly pressing the issue, and consistency at the plate.
- With Evan Longoria’s return, the Rays have started to perform to their ability. I say started because a few Rays haven’t put up the greatest of numbers, while others are starting to get hot. Sure, Longoria has had at least a hit and an RBI in every game (that is with the exception of Tuesday) and that’s big. But when you look at the performance of the players around him, you see how important his presence is in the lineup.
- How about Zo at SS? Zobrist made a pair of excellent plays in the first inning, retiring Ben Revere on slow grounder, followed by getting Justing Morneau while ranging to his left out of the shift. Zobrist and Roberts also paired up for what turned out to be a great play, getting Revere in the fifth inning as he slid past the bag.
The New What Next
David Price (14-4, 2.49 ERA) and the Rays will take on Nick Blackburn (4-7, 7.42 ERA) and the Twins tonight in game two of this three game set. Tampa Bay has posted a .350 BA/.393 OBP/.520 SLG/.913 OPS against Blackburn in 100 career at-bats. Ben Zobrist, BJ Upton, Sean Rodriguez, Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, Sam Fuld, and Matt Joyce have all wreaked havoc on Blackburn, touching him up for 26 hits, including four doubles, a triple, and three homers. Blackburn has also posted an 8.04 ERA while losing three straight starts to the Rays.
Rays 8/11/12 Starting Lineup
Noteworthiness: Molina is catching for the second day straight, while Longoria takes on the DH duties for the fifth day straight. Interestingly enough, though Joe Maddon said he’d put Zobrist in at short stop on days when a fly ball pitcher was on the mound, he is in there for the third day straight at short even though Price is more of a ground ball pitcher.