Home runs power the Rays offense over the Red Sox in Boston Thursday night, as the Rays pull to within 3 games in the wild-card race.
7 of the runs in tonight's 9-2 win were driven in by Rays home runs. A 3 run shot from Evan Longoria (after BJ Upton’s bat hit a single and extended the inning) in the third and 2 run homers in the 6th and 7th from Casey Kotchman and BJ Upton respectively provided the lions share of the offense. Kotchman’s was particularly significant, as the Red Sox had been threatening and his RBIs extended the lead from a save-worthy 3 runs to a mop-up worthy 5.
The Rays got 17 base runners on the wet and dreary New England evening. Every starter but Reid Brignac and Matt Joyce reached base. Desmond Jennings continued to do lead-off hitter things, getting on base 4 times, and walking just ahead of both Longoria and Upton’s home runs.
Jeremy Hellickson looked so-so tonight, walking 4 and striking out 4. He got squeezed into loading the bases in the third inning with one out, but got out of it allowing just the single run. He was forced to throw 74 pitches through 3 innings, but was able to make it through 5.2 innings with 1-2-3 innings in the 4th and the 5th. Still, getting into the 6th inning allowing only 1 run against Boston’s lineup at Fenway Park was good enough to earn him his 13th win of the season.
We also got a look at some players who may be key contributors in the Rays future. International League MVP and interesting 2012 first base option Russ Canzler walked in his only plate appearance. LHP Alex Torres appeared in the game in the bottom of the ninth, showing what the scouting reports have said: good stuff but iffy command. He tossed a couple of nasty change-ups in a row to strike out Jarrod Saltalamacchia before allowing back-to-back base hits, allowing a garbage-time run for Boston.