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.