The Rays won their first game of this young 2013 season by a score of 8-7 over the Baltimore Orioles, thanks to Matt Joyce’s walk-off homer in the ninth inning — the first walk-off homer career. And though Jeremy Hellickson didn’t have his best stuff to start the game, having given up a three run homer to Chris Davis in the first inning, he settled in nicely, ultimately posting a 6.1 IP/8 H/5 R/5 ER/1 BB/2 K/1 HR slash line on 94 pitches (64 for strikes), giving the Rays a fighting chance.
Granted seven runs on 11 hits and two walks may not be the outcome of the stereotypical, well pitched, Rays game, there was a lot to like about Wednesday’s matchup against the Orioles. The highlights and lowlights of the game are below.
- Defense, defense, defense. The Tampa Bay Rays defense has been outstanding in the last two games. Evan Longoria made a pair of excellent plays, including a gem that robbed JJ Hardy of a double in the second inning. Yunel Escobar also made a handful of solid plays at short Wednesday night. These plays proved to be significant in a tight ball game.
- One only needs to take a quick look at the Rays offensive line to see that this hard fought win was a team win, not one predicated on the performance of only one or two players. That is to say, with the exception of a handful of players who didn’t contribute on the offensive end of things, the bulk of the Rays in the lineup contributed to the win. I’d argue that this is what the Rays offense could, and should, look like on a consistent basis.
- Speaking of offense, both Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings continued to do what they do best, accounting for four of the Rays 14 hits, two of Tampa Bay’s seven RBI, and two of the seven runs. Zobrist came up big late in the game with an RBI bloop single to give the Rays (a then) important insurance run. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Shelley Duncan, who hit a huge two out three-run blast in the sixth inning off of Luis Ayala.
- Though Chen induced three inning ending double plays, putting the brakes on three early Rays scoring threats, Tampa Bay continued to scratch out hits — proof that consistent contact with the ball can, ultimately, be a game changer. If the Rays have done anything well so far in 2013, it’s effectively play small ball. It may be boring to watch, but it’s the Rays way.
- I’d also be remiss not to put up a link to Matt Joyce’s game winning walk-off blast in the ninth.
- This was a very important win for a few reasons, the obvious being it was the Rays first win of the season. However, this one run win came at the hands of a team that won 25-plus one run games in 2012 — a feat that hasn’t been done since the 1984 season. The Rays were 1-6 in one run games against the O’s last season.
- Tampa Bay was 4-7 wRISP. We here at X-Rays Spex like…no, LOVE that.
- Fernando Rodney, who blew the save but got the win, pitched from the middle of the rubber Wednesday night. Rodney pitched from the first base side of the rubber all last season, showcasing remarkable control in his record breaking season. His control Wednesday was markedly off. Whether those control issues extended from his positioning on the mound is unknown. Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see if this was a one time situation, or if he may be regressing back to his career norms.
- We here at X-Rays Spex give Kyle Farnsworth a lot of guff, but I’ve got to hand it to him for being able to get the Rays out of a RISP jam, inducing a double play on a well executed breaking pitch.
Tampa Bay will go for their first series win Thursday afternoon at the Trop. The Rays will have Roberto Hernandez on the mound to face the O’s. This should be a rather interesting experiment. If his sinker is on, Hernandez could be lights out. Let’s hope it’s on. “I can see things kind of snowballing with him, especially to the good side,” pitching coach Jim Hickey said. “If things are going good and all of a sudden he’s getting a lot of quick outs and he feels like he’s back, I think we could have a monster.” We’ll post the starting lineup when it becomes available. As always, Let’s Go Rays!
Rays 4/4/13 Starting Lineup:
- Joe Maddon on the Orioles, “They’re absolutely zero fun right now. They’re not playing good in the sandbox.”
- Former Rays ace James Shields is none to happy about Evan Longoria’s recent comments regarding he and BJ Upton.
- Speaking of James Shields, MLB Trade Rumors asserts that the timing of the Rays and Royals Shields/Myers trade was key.
- With the Rays attendance falling to a season low (See what I did there?) of just over fifteen-thousand, Shadow of the Stadium’s Noah Pransky asks the Question, Was the Trop Half Empty Or Half Full Wednesday night?
- We were planning on writing about Jake McGee, and how everyone needs to calm down over he blowing Tuesday’s lead. DRaysBay did just that. “This is why we look at stats and don’t just trust our eyes, memory, and hunches.” I’d reckon that quote sums things up well.