Despite his teams victory Rays manager Joe Maddon‘s message after the game was clear. The victory was lucky and to get to where his team wants it is going to take being good, not lucky. “This game is all about that razor thin line between winning and losing. We’ve had it go against us. I’ll tell you one thing – I’d rather be good than lucky, any day of the week.”
The Rays watched a 7th inning 6-2 lead turn into a 7-6 deficit but came back to win on an Evan Longoria 2-out 2-run homer to give the Rays a 8-7 victory over the San Diego Padres. The victory went to Cesar Ramos (1-0, 3.55 ERA) who worked the final 2.1 scoreless innings without allowing a runner to reach base and striking out 3. Padres Huston Street (0-2, 4.91 ERA) took the loss after allowing a 2-out walk to Ben Zobrist and the walk off homer to Ben Zobrist. The victory improves the Rays record to .500 at 18-18 – the first time they’ve been at .500 since they were 3-3. The Padres record falls to 16-20.
Despite the win Joe Maddon was not happy with the teams performance saying that “he’d rather be good than lucky…we can not afford..that is not going to happen…that is the anomaly…we are fortunate that Longo was in the right spot we are fortunate that Zo gets it”
He went go on to say “we can not go to the dance playing like that..if we get leads we have to put the other team away…that is inappropriate.” When prompted about his mood tonight Maddon reiterated that he was unhappy and that has to stop. “We are better than that, we want to play in October, we got to be better than that – that can not happen -were not going to be lucky – we gotta be good.”
In his previous two starts Jeremy Hellickson had failed to hold big leads. On May 1st against the Kansas City Royals he was handed a 5-0 lead after 3 innings but his night was over early as he departed with the Rays up only 5-4 after 5 innings in a game that the Rays eventually lost 9-8. On May 6th he was spotted to a 7-0 lead after 3 but once again had to exit after 5-innings with the Rays holding a 7-3 lead which they eventually lost 8-7. Tonight he was spotted to a 6-2 and went deeper into the game but was unable to work out of a jam in the 7th inning and he departed with the score tied at 6-6.
Jeremy Hellickson received a no decision working 6.2 innings allowing 6R/ER on 6 hits striking out 8 and walking 1. Jamey Wright worked to 4 batters failing to retire any of them allowing an unearned run. Cesar Ramos worked the final 2.1 scoreless and hitless innings for the victory.
The Padres jumped on Jeremy Hellickson in the top of the first inning taking a 2-0 lead on Chase Headley‘s 2-run homer.
The Rays had an answer to the Padres and their starter Burch Smith making in his major league debut all the way up from Double A made it look easy retiring the Rays in order with two K’s in the top of the 1st. Evan Longoria drew a leadoff walk and t hen Jame Loney tied the score by driving a mammoth home run on a first pitch fastball. Luke Scott walked and Sam Fuld singled prompting a visit from pitching coach Darren Balsey to settle his young pitcher down. The visit didn’t work as Jose Lobaton singled to load the bases and Yunel Escobar singled to drive in Luke Scott and Sam Fuld and Ben Zobrist doubled to score Lobaton and Escobar and the Rays once again had given Hellickson a 4 run lead to work with.
Unlike the previous two starts Hellickson ran with the lead. He pounded the strike zone and was efficient and retired 16 in a row until he walked Carlos Quentin in a 10-pitch at bat to open the 7th inning. He came back to strike out Yonder Alonso for the first out, allow a single to Mark Kotsay, and struck out Jedd Gyorko for the second out. It looked as if Hellickson had gotten out of the inning when Alexi Aramista sent a cue shot to Evan Longoria who barehanded the ball and fired to James Loney but Aramista beat the throw loading the bases.
With the bases loaded and 2-out Bud Black went to his bench to bring in pinch hitter Jesus Guzman representing the tying run. Despite Jamey Wright being fully warmed up in the bullpen and Hellickson already have thrown 26 pitches in the inning manager Joe Maddon decided to stick with him and Guzman made him pay launching a Grand Slam to left to tie the score at 6-6. After the game Joe Maddon said that Hellickson should have been able to do something with Guzman “he felt very stongly, not luke warm, not mediocre, not tepid, butvery strongly” and “that’s the one thing he’s gotta get done right there.”
Guzman’s slam ended Hellickson’s night and Jamey Wright was brought in. The first batter he faced Everth Cabrera reached on a Ben Zobrist error, advanced to 2nd after Will Venable was hit by a pitch, advanced to third on a Chase Headley walk, and came in to scrore on a Carlos Quentin walk putting the Padres ahead 7-6. Wright’s night was over and he was replaced by Cesar Ramos who finally ended the inning by striking out Yonder Alonso.
Ramos worked the final 2.1 innings of scoreless relief to give the Rays an opportunity to come back. Joe Maddon was extremely encouraged by the way “Ramos pounded the strike zone with his fastball. He was very aggressive. That’s about as good as I’ve seen him. He was a big part of our win tonight.”
The Rays offense entered the ninth inning being held scoreless for 7 innings by a quintet of Padre Relievers Tyson Ross (4 innings), Brad Brach (1.1), Joe Thatcher (1.0), and Luke Gregerson (0.2 innings) but were unable to break through. Padres closer Huston Street entered the game and retired Matt Joyce on a fly out to center and Kelly Johnson on a fly out to right before Ben Zobrist worked a 2-out walk. Joe Maddon made a point to say of Zobrist plate appearance, “That’s going to be overlooked but you cannot. Zobrist’s at bat was really a huge part of that successful night. He kept working kept working…Zo understands the importance of not making an out. He gets it. It’s not just about getting hit’s all the time. There are some guys that are so hung up on getting hits that they cannot see the forest for the walk. Zobrist’s at bet set the whole thing up.”
Longoria came to the plate and launched a 84 mph Huston Street slider over the left center field fence to give the Rays the 8-7 victory. It was his 5th walk off in his career but he gave credit to his teammates for that saying “It takes a team to be able to get you up to the plate in those opportunities. I’ve been fortunate enough I’ve been able to come through. It doesn’t get any better than that, being able to be in that moment and come through. It feels good.”