The Rays came back from deficits of 4-0, 5-4, and 6-5 before finally taking their first lead of the night in walk-off fashion as Desmond Jennings delivered a walk-off single with 2-out in the bottom of the 9th to plate Kelly Johnson giving the Rays a 7-6 victory. The win goes to Fernando Rodney (2-2, 5.48 ERA) as he worked a perfect 9th inning and the Rays improve to 27-24 on the season. Mike Dunn(1-1, 2.38 ERA) to the loss for the Marlins who see their record fall to 13-39 on the year.
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After last nights 10-6 victory over the Marlins the comment was made to Joe Maddon that he can’t really expect the offense to continue to perform the way it has throughout the year. Maddon wasn’t so quick to agree with the sentiment saying “look up and down the lineup now, Zobrist still has not kicked it into gear, he’s going to, Matt Joyce is ascending, Escobar still to me is hit the ball as hard as anyone on this team with the lowest batting average but his last month average and RBI are very good…..”Scotty had been up and is kind of struggling Desmond’s not doing very good.” In the end Maddon said, “I actually think there’s still room for improvement from the offense.”
As if on cue the Rays mentioned by Maddon the night before went out and had outstanding games. Ben Zobrist was on base twice with a hit and a walk, Matt Joyce was 1 for 3 with an RBI, Luke Scott was 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored, Yunel Escobar was 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and a run scored, and Desmond Jennings not only delivered the walk off hit, he was on base 4 times going 3 for 4 with a walk, a run scored, and 2 RBI. In total, the Rays offense delivered 16 base hits including 5 doubles and the bottom third of the Rays lineup (Jennings, Lobaton, and Escobar) combined to go 8 for 11 with 4 runs scored and 2 RBI.
The Rays offense touched up Kevin Slowey for 4R/ER on 8 hits in 5.1 innings and continued to add up hits against Ryan Webb (0.2 innings, 1R/ER, on 1 hit), Dan Jennings (1 inning, 1 hit), Mike Dunn (1.2 innings, 2R/2ER, on 5 hits), and finally delivering the walk-off hit against Chad Qualls. A walk-off win with 16 hits sets a very positive tone as the team travels to Miami but the starting pitching of Jeremy Hellickson is concerning.
Hellickson was looking to pick up momentum after a strong outing last Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays when he went 8 innings only allowing 2 runs on 4 hits. Unfortunately he didn’t have command of any of his pitches against the Marlins and lasted only 5.1 innings allowing 5R/ER on 7 hits striking out 3 and walking 1.
Maddon characterized Hellickson’s performance as not crispy at all saying “he was not sharp with anything…fastball, fastball location, curveball, change up, nothing was really normal for him.” He said that he isn’t concerned about Hellickson that the “only time I would be concerned with him is if he were injured. I don’t see injury there. I don’t see any hurt.” Maddon believes it comes down to Hellickson executing his pitches more consistently something he has not been able to do with any kind of consistency.
Jamey Wright came in to relieve Hellickson and delivered a quality 1.2 scoreless innings giving way to Joel Peralta who was called upon for his 4th day in row. The workload may have affected the crispness of his pitches as he labored through a 24 pitch inning allowing a 2-out RBI single to put the Marlins on top 6-5.
The best news out of the bullpen was the performance by Fernando Rodney who threw a quick and efficient 15-pitch 9th inning. For most of the month of May Rodney has been searching for his fastball command and at least on this night he found it. He threw 10 fastballs, 7 for strikes including 2 swing and misses.
After the game the Rays sent Jake Odorizzi to Triple-A Durham. It is expected that the team will recall reliever Jeff Beliveau to take a spot in the bullpen until a starting pitcher is needed in Cleveland on Saturday. It is more than likely that former Indians farm hand Chris Archer will get the call.