The Rays followed up their walk off victory on Saturday night with a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers to win their first series win against the Tigers since August 9 through August 11th of the 2010 season and their first series victory at Tropicana Field since the Rays swept them in a 4-game series July 26 through 29, 2010. With the win the Rays have now won 7 of their last 11 games and improve their record to 43-39. The Tigers have lost 5 of their last 6 and 9 of their last 15 and their record falls to 43-37.
After last nights confrontation between Miguel Cabrera and Fernando Rodney and the strong post-game quotes by Tigers manager Jim Leyland there was a heightened sense of retaliatory action in the air as Tigers starter Rick Porcello took the mound. Prior to the game Leyland said of last nights confrontation “It’s History”
Despite his managers statements Porcello, usually a sinker (2-seam fastball) thrower delivered a 4-seam fastball up toward Ben Zobrist‘s face. Luckily, Zobrist threw his hands up and the pitch hit him in the wrist. Zobrist did not charge the mound and both benches were warned.
Jeremy Hellickson (7-3, 4.90 ERA) earned the victory and in doing so tied a franchise record for wins in a month with five. He worked 6+ innings allowing 1R/ER on 6 hits striking out 3 and walking 3. He was efficient throwing only 85 pitches (53 for strikes) and retired Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Victor Martinez on only 4 pitches in the 6th inning.
Rick Porcello (4-6, 5.21 ERA) took the loss for the Tigers working 6 innings allowing 3R/ER on 8 hits striking out 3 and walking 2. He recorded 10 groundouts and 1 fly out and continued his season long streak (16 starts) of issuing 2 or fewer walks.
The Tigers threatened in the first inning but Kelly Johnson, playing in his 1,00oth career game, made his presence felt over at 3rd base. With runners at 1st and 3rd Miguel Cabrera smashed a ground ball which he stabbed and threw a seed to 2nd base to start the 5-4-3 double play.
The Tigers tied the game in the top of the 4th as Miguel Cabrera led off with a home run that put the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission on high alert as it became only the second ball ever to land in the Rays tank in right center field (The first time was Luis Gonzalez Dodgers June 24, 2007 off Edwin Jackson).
The Tigers threatened to do more damage in the 4th but Jeremy Hellickson showed why he is a gold glove pitcher. With runners at 1st and 2nd and 1-out Omar Infante lined a ball that Hellickson knocked down and had the presence of mind to field and throw to 3rd baseman Kelly Johnson for the force out. Ramon Santiago flew out to center to end the inning and the score remained tied at 1-1.
The Rays took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the 4th on consecutive singles by Wil Myers, Luke Scott, and Kelly Johnson. Jose Lobaton got his 2nd of 3 hits on the day to score Myers and Yunel Escobar walked to force in Scott to push the Rays lead to 3-1. Matt Joyce scorched a line drive to Prince Fielder who tagged first base before the diving Escobar for a line drive double play.
Jeremy Hellickson came out to work the 7th inning but gave up a double to Andy Dirks, a single to Omar Infante, and a walk to Jhonny Peralta to load the bases. Jake McGee was summoned from the bullpen and he kept the Tigers off the board by retiring Bryan Holaday on a fly ball to shallow right, Austin Jackson followed with a hard hit ground ball that Kelly Johsnon scooped up and came home for the force out, and Torii Hunter flew out to center.
After a scary 7th inning for the Rays they had to go through the heart of the Tiger order one more time in the 8th. Joe Maddon brought Kyle Farnsworth in to face Miguel Cabrera who lined out to Kelly Johnson on a 3-1 pitch for the firstout. Joel Peralta came in to replace Farnsworth and struck out Prince Fielder for the second out and Victor Martinez to ground out to end the inning.
After making 32 pitches Saturday night Fernando Rodney came in to try and protect a 3-1 lead. He fell behind Andy Dirks 3-0 but came back to strike him out. Omar Infant doubled into the left field corner to bring the tying run in Jhonny Peralta to the plate. He fell behind Peralta 3-1 and got back to a full count before reaching back for a 96 mph fastball that Peralta chased out of the strike zone for the 2nd out. Brayan Pena came in to pinch hit for Bryan Holaday and Rodney got him to pop out to Yunel Escobar to give the Rays the series victory.
Fernando Rodney picked up his 17th save on the year and has now is perfect in his last 8 save opportunities.