MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 28: Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Minnesota Twins during in the second inning of their game on April 28, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Jeremy Hellickson Dominates The Orioles, Throws Complete Game Shut Out

Jeremy Hellickson and Jeremy Guthrie exchanged pitching gems tonight, each pitching complete games.

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Hellickson Goes The Distance, Joyce And Damon Go Yard

Jeremy Hellickson (4-2), still a rookie by MLB standards, pitched like a grizzled veteran tonight, allowing only 5 base runners in his 9 scoreless frames. Hellboy, as he is called among Rays fans, only struck out 3 batters, but only allowed 1 walk, 4 hits, and 1 extra base hit -- a double to Derrek Lee.

Hellickson needed his best tonight because opposing pitcher Jeremy Guthrie (1-6) also twirled a complete game -- a strong 8 innings marred only by 2 towering home runs surrendered to surging outfielder Matt Joyce and veteran DH Johnny Damon.

Joyce's 2-run home run in the 2nd inning gave the early impression the Rays would cruise to victory over the beleaguered Guthrie, who has not won since his first start of the year (also against the Rays). However, Guthrie had different designs, and stifled the Rays hitters through the most of game's remainder.

Some notes from the game:

  • The 3-4-5 spots proved magical tonight as Damon, Evan Longoria, and Joyce combined for an impressive line: 5 for 10, 2 homers, 1 double, and 1 walk.
  • Hellboy also had yet another pickoff. The Rays now have 9 team pickoffs despite having a staff loaded with right-handed pitchers. The only team ahead of the Rays is Oakland, which boasts a number of left-handed starters.
  • Casey Kotchman, for what seems the first time in a long time, had no magic tonight. As observed earlier week, Kotchman's success has been largely fueled by good luck. Today, he had none of it, going 0 for 4 with 4 ground outs and a ground-into-a-double-play (GIDP).
  • The Rays (23-15) now sit 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees, with a good chance to go up by 2 whole games if the Yankees continue to lose against the Red Sox tonight. The Orioles (17-20) continue to slip further down the standings, meanwhile, despite their second strong start in the last two seasons.

Tampa Bay Rays Vs. Baltimore Orioles: Game 1 Lineups

Today's lineup, per Marc Topkin:

Fuld CF
Zobrist RF
Damon DH
Longoria 3B
Joyce LF
Kotchman 1B
Rodriguez 2B
Brignac SS
Jaso C

Players to watch:

  • Sam Fuld will be in center field again as B.J. Upton finishes his short suspension. Yesterday, Fuld misplayed a ball or two in center, but the Rays should be fine with the speedy Sam in center. Expect him to look much better in his second day in the middle.
  • Sean Rodriguez gets the start today despite a right-handed pitcher (Jeremy Guthrie) on the mound. Rodriguez  has hit well this season, but has yet to show the power stroke he had in the minor leagues as recently as 2009 (when he hit 30 homers between the Rays' and Angels' Triple-A teams). Hopefully Rodriguez can start finding some power today against a weaker pitcher like Guthrie.
  • John Jaso, despite hitting two early homers this year, has not hit up to his expected talent level. His walks are down this year, but so are his strikeouts. It appears he has been the recipient of some bad luck, so hopefully a few more hits fall for him today.

Jeremy Hellickson Opens Series Against The Orioles

After a 5-1 road trip against the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians, the Tampa bay Rays are back in the Trop this weekend to face off against the Orioles. The Rays swept the Orioles in three game last weekend, although this series may be slightly more challenging for the Rays as neither David Price or James Shields is scheduled to pitch. Instead, the Rays will be counting on Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, and Andy Sonnanstine to keep their hot streak alive against the O's.

Jeremy Hellickson (3.72 ERA, 4.38 FIP) will start tonight's game against the O's. His start last weekend was also against the O's, and Hellickson had a bit of a rough start against them; he didn't allow any runs to score, but he did struggle with his command and walk five batters. It was the second time this season that Hellickson has walked five batters in a game, which is very uncharacteristic for him; he normally succeeds with his pinpoint control. Thankfully the O's are slumping on offense right now - Brian Roberts, Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds, Nick Markakis, and J.J. Hardy are all off to a slow start - so Hellickson should be able to work on his command tonight without having to be afraid of letting up too many runs.

Starting for the Orioles is Jeremy Guthrie (4.09 ERA, 4.47 FIP), who has had mixed results against the Rays this season. He absolutely dominated the Rays when he faced them early in the season, holding them to just four baserunners over eight innings, but then he got lit up for 7 runs in five innings last weekend. Guthrie isn't normally a dominating starter (or a horrible one), and his true talent level against the Rays likely lies somewhere between those two starts. He could give the Rays fits, but hopefully not enough to keep the Rays from winning.

Tonight's game is scheduled for 7:10 PM.

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