The Rays defeated the Chicago White Sox by a final score of 8-3. It was the Rays 11th win in their past 16 games and their record improves to 47-40. The loss drops the White Sox record to 34-49.
Jeremy Hellickson posted a 5-1 record with a 3.53 ERA in June. His 5 wins tied a franchise record for wins in a month and during June he held the American Leagues top 4 offenses (Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland) to just 6 runs in 23 innings of work (2.43 ERA).
The task in front of him on Friday night was not as daunting as the Chicago White Sox enter the game with the lowest runs scored in the American League with 308.
Hellickson picked up in July right where he left off in June by holding the White Sox to just 1R/ER on 6 hits striking out 9 and walking none. His record improves to 8-3 and lowered his ERA to 4.67. He threw 100 pitches, 70 for strikes, and threw a first pitch strike to 18 of 26 batters.
He entered the game with the 8th highest run support per start at 5.28 runs/start and the offense trumped that number with 8 runs on 14 hits. Desmond Jennings, James Loney, and Luke Scott all had multi-hit games with Jennings and Scott leading the way with 3 apiece. Luke Scott reached base 4 times with 3 hits and a walk and Evan Longoria also reached base 4 times on 1-hit and 3 walks including 1 intentional.
James Loney went 2 for 4 and extended his hitting streak to a career high 16 games. During the hit streak he is hitting .406 (26 for 64) and is approaching the Rays franchise record of 19 in a row set by Jason Bartlett in 2009.
The Rays took a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the second, batting around for the 12th time this season, and knocking White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod (3-5, 4.97 ERA). The inning began with a Luke Scott line drive double into the right field corner and a 1-out 2-run homer by Jose Molina. Kelly Johnson followed Molina with his 12th homer on the year and his first since June 18th. Desmond Jennings singled, stole second, and came home to score on a Evan Longoria single. Longoria advanced to 2nd and came in to score on a Wil Myers double to end Axelrod’s evening.
The Rays loaded the bases with nobody out against White Sox reliever Ramon Troncoso and added a run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Wil Myers and a RBI single by Luke Scott to increase their lead to 7-0.
Getting into a bullpen in the first game of a series is always important but getting in to the bullpen early and forcing a lot of pitches is a double bonus. The Rays offense forced the White Sox pitching staff to throw 184 pitches – Dylan Axelrod (54), Ramon Troncoso (44), David Purcey (35), and Simon Castro (51).
For the Rays, Cesar Ramos came in to relieve Hellickson and worked the final 2-innings allowing 2-runs on 4 hits.