The Rays are now bowing out. They’re going for it, and if they keep playing like this, nothing will stop them.
Jeremy Hellickson started for the Rays and had the luxury of B.J. Upton hitting a 1st inning solo home run off of Chad Jenkinsto give him a 1-0 lead. But that’s all he would get while he was in the game and with the Rays offense quiet for the first time in a while, Hellickson had to bear down and keep the Blue Jays off the scoreboard. In the first 4 innings, he did just that, allowing just 2 hits while striking out 3 and posting a 9-2 groundball to flyball ratio. Jenkins, who was making his first MLB start, retiring 10 in a row from the 1st to the 4th. In the 5th, Hellickson finally got into major trouble. Yunel Escobar led off with a single before Kelly Johnson bunted him to second base. With 2 outs, an Anthony Gose infield single gave the Jays 1st and 3rd, and a wild pitch allowed Gose to advance but not Escobar. But Hellickson struck out Brett Lawrie to end the inning and escape trouble.
In the 6th, Hellickson got into even more trouble, loaded the bases by the time there was 2 outs with a single and 2 walks before Jake McGee struck out Kelly Johnson to get out of the jam. Hellickson went 5.2 innings allowing no runs on 5 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2. It was Hellickson’s 5th time in 6 starts posting a 2-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio, just the third time he has done that in his young career. Hellickson’s 3.20 ERA this season may be higher than his 2.95 mark from last year, but he has definitely made progress in his development as a pitcher.
Kyle Farnsworth and J.P. Howell combined to pitch a shutout 7th before Joel Peralta tossed a scoreless 8th, and only then did the Rays break the game open a little bit on an Evan Longoria 2-run double to make it 3-0 Rays. Fernando Rodney nailed down his 44th save in the 9th, lowering his ERA on the season to an unbelievable 0.64 as the Rays won 3-0. Hellickson (9-10) earned the win, his first since August 20th, while Jenkins (0-2) took a tough loss, going 5 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. The Rays’ offense finally cooled off, but the Rays were able to rely on their backbone, pitching, and come away with another crisp win. A little frustrating now that the Rays have a day off Monday before heading to Fenway Park for a quick 2-game set beginning on Tuesday, but it’s very exciting how the Rays have finally turned it on after a tough stretch and are doing everything they can to make a run at the postseason.