Super Sam Fuld Day: Evan Longoria, Jeremy Hellickson Lead Rays To First Series Win In Two Weeks

The Rays pile up the runs in the middle innings and cruise to a 7-0 win over Cleveland.

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Rays Vs. Indians: Evan Longoria, Jeremy Hellickson Lead Rays To First Series Win In Two Weeks

What’s this? A 7-0 victory, and the Rays won a series? It feels like it’s been so long since this last happened, but it’s only been a little over two weeks ago, when the Rays took two of three from the Indians in Cleveland. Thank goodness for the Indians, apparently.

Jeremy Hellickson was lovely today, lasting seven full innings while allowing no runs and only five total baserunners (three hits, two walks). To be honest, I thought he started off the game a bit shaky, letting up four of his baserunners in the first four innings and only striking out a few batters, but he really kicked his play up as the game went along. His changeup was really working for him, and he threw it 35 times and got 9 swinging strikes with it (25%). All in all, it was a really great start for him.

Hellickson’s lone mistake on the day came in the first inning, when he didn’t cover first base on a groundball deep in the hole to Kotchman. It didn’t end up making a difference in the game, thankfully, so we won’t need to hear the “Oh my gosh, he’s so lazy” comments.

Offensively, the Rays seemingly broke out of their recent funk and went wild. Evan Longoria apparently really likes to leadoff spot, as he had another great day at the plate, going 2-3 with a double and two walks. John Jaso also raked today, going 2-4 with his third homerun of the season. Just for the record, I’d like to claim Jaso’s homerun as my fault: I took him out of my fantasy lineup today, and well, that’s just how it’s been going for me recently.

Game Notes:

- On Sam Fuld cape day, Fuld wasn’t super, but he came darn close to it on a couple occasions. Fuld only grabbed one hit on the day, but a few of his outs were on hard hit groundballs that I thought might get through for hits. He also nearly made a sliding catch in the outfield, but came up just short and scooped the ball instead. That’s okay Fuld, you’re still super to me.

- Casey Kotchman left the game with a right ankle injury in the fourth inning, after sliding in awkwardly to second base as he tried to leg out a double. There’s no word yet on how bad the injury is or if he’s expected to miss much time, so we’ll have to wait and see. Bad luck there, as Kotchman’s hit was a really nice shot off the right field wall.

- Reid Brignac had a great matchup today, playing against a right handed groundball pitcher, but he couldn’t get much going. He had one infield single on the day, and he made weak outs his other couples times at the plate. Fix that swing soon Briggy.

- Let’s hope this offense shows up again tomorrow, when the Rangers come to town for a three game set.

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Super Sam Fuld Day: Capes All Around As Rays Try To Avoid Losing Fourth Straight Series

The Rays need a win today to avoid losing their fourth series in a row, but who cares about that; let's focus on the real story today: Super Sam Fuld Day.

After Manny Ramirez's sudden retirement early this season, the Rays needed to find another promotion to fill their May 29th "Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Day" slot. Shortly afterward, Sam Fuld catapulted himself into the realm of Legends, and the decision was made: today would become a Super Sam Fuld cape giveaway.

Even though Sam Fuld has cooled off since his hot start (.227 BA), as the St. Pete Times points out this weekend, there are still plenty of reasons beyond the ballpark and stats to consider Sam Fuld super. He's a heck of a person and a great role model, and many of the Rays are getting into the fun as well: 

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Photo from Marc Topkin and the Heater blog, St. Petersburg Times.

Today's pitching matchup is Jeremy Hellickson (4.01 FIP) vs Justin Masterson (2.98 FIP). Masterson is a right-handed groundball pitcher, and the Rays have had struggles against groundball pitchers so far this year (.603 OPS). That's no saying they'll struggle today as well, but it's something to keep in mind.      

After getting a couple hits yesterday, including a homerun, Evan Longoria is back in the leadoff spot today. Hey, whatever works; technically, having Longoria higher in the lineup will get him more plate appearances, so it's not a bad move even if it is unorthodox.

Today's full lineup for the Rays (from DRaysBay and JB Long):

Longo 3b
Damon dh
Zobrist 2b
Joyce rf
Kotch 1b
Upton cf
Fuld lf
Jaso c
Briggy ss

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