Hellickson’s Back? Rays Defeat Red Sox 6-2

The Rays offense was held to 2 runs or less in all 5 prior games at Fenway Park this year. According to the Rays media notes it was the longest streak of games for a visitor there since the 1984-1985 Chicago White Sox.  The Rays put that streak to an end as their offense put up 6 runs and 15 hit en route to a 6-2 victory over the Red Sox.  The victory improves the Rays record to 37-35 and with it they avoid a series sweep. The loss drops the Red Sox record to 44-30 and they are unable to capture their first season series against the Rays since going 13-5 against them in 2007.

Despite his normal reluctance to put added importance on any one victory or loss after the game Joe Maddon said after the game that “we have to get back even with these guys at some point or other or close to it, they’ve had their way with us.”

The Rays offense put up an 2 runs against Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster (4-8, 4.23 ERA) in the 1st inning on a solo home run by Desmond Jennings (#9) and a sacrifice fly by James Loney. In the top of the 5th inning Ben Zobrist sent a soft single to center and Jose Molina hustled in to score from second to slide in just ahead of the tag and leaving a divot in the right handed batters box and giving the Rays a 3-2 lead.

The Rays broke the game open in the top of the 6th inning against Craig Breslow and Alex Wilson. With Desmond Jennings at 1st and 2-outs Evan  Longoria worked the count full and on the 3-2 pitch he hit a ball high off the green monster and Jennings came around to score. James Loney followed with a double to move Longoria up to 3rd base and end Craig Breslow‘s night as right hander Alex Wilson was brought in to face Wil Myers.

When he was called up Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon spoke of  Wil Myers bat providing help against right handed pitching.  Additionally, the Rays had entered the game with a .137 average (13 for 95) with runners in scoring position against the Red Sox and needed someone to deliver that key hit that had been absent in losing 9 out of 11 against them. Myers did just what the Rays had hoped by delivering the 2-RBI double to put the Rays up 6-2.

Jeremy Hellickson (5-3, 5.50 ERA) earned the victory delivering 6 quality innings holding the Red Sox to 2R/ER on 7 hits striking out 4 and walking 0. He has not issued a walk in his last 4 starts matching the team record for consecutive starts held by James Shields from June 2oth through July 6, 2007. The last batter Hellickson walked was Marcell Ozuna of the Miami Marlins with 2 outs in the 3rd inning of his start on May 28th. He has now worked 25.1 innings without issuing a walk.

Hellickson has had his fair share of struggles with runners in scoring position in 2013. Entering his start the opposition had a average of .379 (22 for 58) with runners in scoring position which included a batting average on balls in play (BAbip) of .422.   With two outs and runners in scoring position hitters had an average of .500 (14 for 28) and a BAbip of .500. A BAbip that high is usually a combination of bad luck or solid contact against the pitcher but tonight it was more of the former for Hellickson.

The Red Sox scored both their runs off Hellickson with 2-outs and runners in scoring position by putting the ball in play in the direction of Evan Longoria.  Both batted balls were usually plays that he reliable Longoria usually turns into outs but that’s the way it’s gone for Hellickson this year.

In the bottom of the second inning with David Ortiz at 3rd base and 2-out Jonny Gomes sent a hard grounder to 3rd. Longoria dove and got to his feet and had plenty of time to fire to first but could not get the ball out of his glove. In the bottom of the 4th inning once again it was Jonny Gomes at the plate this time with Jarrod Saltalamacchia at 3rd. Gomes sent a line drive that Evan Longoria made a leap for  but the ball hit the heel of his glove allowing the Sox to score their second run of the game.

That would be all the runs the Red Sox would score tonight as the Rays bullpen held them scoreless over the final three frames. Jake McGee worked a scoreless 7th and Joel Peralta a scoreless eighth. With a 4-run lead Joe Maddon elected to go with Jamey Wright to work the 9th (a non-save situation) and he retired the first two hitters of the inning before Joe Maddon went to his bullpen to bring in Fernando Rodney to face Jonny Gomes and he struck him out to end the game.

When Dave Wills asked Brian Anderson to analyze the move Anderson replied half jokingly that based on the absurdity of this move I refuse to offer  any analysis for the rest of this game.

When asked about the move after the game Joe Maddon said “he was just trying to get target practice for Fernando. He has not pitched in four days. It was just about shortening the time that he would have to pitch.”

Overall the Rays offense had 15 hits on the evening and Desmond Jenings, Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrsit, James Loney, and Jose Molina all had multi-hit games led by Evan Longoria and Jose Molina with 3 hits each.

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