April 8, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) throws a pitch in the third inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Game Three: Rays Sweep Yankees


Pitching on his 25th birthday, Jeremy Hellickson gave the Rays a gift of their own.

The Rays jumped out to an early 1-0 lead over Yankees starter Phil Hughes. Evan Longoria hit a double down the left field line with two outs. Matt Joyce followed with a sinking line drive to right, which Raul Ibanez attempted to make a diving catch on. The ball bounced over Ibanez, rolling to the wall in right. Curtis Granderson ran the ball down, holding Joyce to a triple. Hughes then got Ben Zobrist to fly out to left to end the inning.

The game would remain 1-0 until the bottom of the third. Following a Desmond Jennings strikeout, Carlos Pena struck again. This time, he hammed the pitch from Hughes to right for his second home run of the season, giving the Rays a 2-0 lead. Longoria then flied out to right. Joyce drew a walk, but Zobrist struck out to end the inning.

Hellickson ran into trouble in the fourth inning. Following a Robinson Cano groundout, Alex Rodriguez drew a walk. Mark Teixeira doubled to deep right, putting runners on second and third. But Hellickson would bear down, getting Nick Swisher to pop up to Longoria and Ibanez to fly out to center, ending the threat.

In the bottom of the fifth, Hughes got Sean Rodriguez to foul out to first, and Jennings to foul out to third. Up came Carlos Pena, who hit another drive to deep right field. This time, a fan reached over the railing, catching the ball. Pena was awarded second base on the ground rule double from fan interference. After a walk to Longoria, Hughes’ day was done after 4.2 innings pitched, giving up 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5. Boone Logan entered the game, and struck out Joyce to end the inning.

In the top of the sixth, the Yankees would threaten again. Following a strikeout of Granderson and a Cano fly ball to Jennings, Alex Rodriguez doubled to deep center. Teixeira walked, with Rodriguez stealing third base on ball four. Hellickson then struck out Nick Swisher to end the inning, keeping the Yankees off the board.

In the bottom of the sixth, Logan got two quick outs by striking out Zobrist and getting Stephen Vogt to fly out to Granderson. This brought up Jeff Keppinger, who hit a bullet to left for a solo home run, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead. Jose Molina struck out to end the inning.

That would be all the support Hellickson would need. He set the Yankees down in the seventh and eighth innings in order, and came out for the ninth inning to finish the shutout. Alex Rodriguez flew out to Jennings, and Teixeira grounded out to Brignac at short. Hellickson then walked Swisher, ending his day after pitching 8.2 innings. He did not give up a run on three hits and four walks, striking out four. Fernando Rodney came in for the third consecutive game, and got Ibanez to ground out tot he mound to end the game.

The sweep marked the first time that the Yankees had been swept in the opening series since losing the first three games of the year to the Boston Red Sox in 1985.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez Carlos Pena Jeremy Hellickson Phil Hughes