The Rays swept the Mariners this weekend at the onset of what needs to be a playoff push. Things only get harder from here, and it's a great sign to see the Rays put their offense together.
On Saturday, Jeremy Hellickson rolled quickly and quietly through eight innings as the Rays cruised to an 8-0 victory. Hell-boy only reached 103 pitches and could have been yet another Tampa Bay Complete Game (we saw three against Boston) but Joel Peralta pitched the final inning to give the rookie rest.
Notes from DRaysBay:
- Hellickson generated 13 swinging strikes tonight and had an 11 mile an hour difference from his fastball to his changeup. You're going to fool a lot of hitters when you do that with the type of stuff Hellickson has.
- Ben Zobrist continues to do great things. He picked up his A.L. leading 41st double and reached base four times.
- Evan Longoria's home run off Charlie Furbush was his 20th on the season, making him the third Ray (joining Carlos Pena and Aubrey Huff) to have four seasons with 20 or more bombs. He also joins Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews as the only third basemen to begin their careers with 20 or more home runs in four straight seasons. His four RBI night gives him 59 in his past 60 games.
- Kyle Farnsworth was the winning pitcher in Sunday's showdown as he held the game at 7-7 in the eighth. Maddon continues to consider Farns a high-leverage pitcher more than a "closer" and it's paid dividends. Not the best for my fantasy team, but as a Rays fan I'm in love.
- The Rays were able to bench Michael Pineda after six innings and launched their comeback off the Mariner relief, scoring four runs in the seventh - losing the lead in the eighth - then loading the bases in crazy fashion, Matt Joyce tagged for the third out at home - Farns struck out two of three - walk off home run. By definition a thriller.
- It was nice to see replay effectively used in a game. It took 2 minutes and 45 seconds for the umpires to overturn Johnny's slam, and as Joe Maddon said after the game: "They were right on with that call. Actually, we got the ball back and it had yellow paint on it." This was the first grand slam ever overturned by replay.
- The Rays have won 10 of their last 12 games.