Today Roberto Hernandez took the hill against Eric Stults and the San Diego Padres looking for a sweep of the 3 game series. This is the Roberto Hernandez that Andrew Friedman and the Tampa Bay Rays expected when he was inked to a one year deal. Today we saw a vintage Fausto Carmona like performance going six strong innings while giving up 2 earned runs on five hits while striking out four and walking two on 95 pitches.
The Rays drew first blood in the bottom of the second after Evan Longoria walked and James Loney singled putting men on 1st & 2nd. After a Sean Rodriguez pop out Yunel Escobar walked to load the bases for the light hitting Jose Molina. Molina hit a deep sac fly to right field to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. Sam Fuld ended the inning after being perhaps robbed by a great defensive play by first baseman Yonder Alonso. Tampa Bay then threatened in the third but Stults worked out of a jam to hold the Rays at bay.
Hernandez really only got into trouble in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth after a lead-off walk to Chase Headley and a single up the middle to Carlos Quentin, putting men at 1st & 2nd with no one out, Yonder Alonso lined an RBI single past the diving second baseman to tie the game at 1 apiece. Hernandez was able to limit the damage on a broken bat come backer by Chris Denorfia, invoking a 1-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Hernandez had his second mistake of the game on a 1 out solo home run to second baseman Alexi Amarista, giving the Padres a 2-1 lead. After working himself into a jam of men on 1st & 2nd with the shift on Escobar made a great play to stop Chase Headley’s hit and end the inning.
The bottom of the sixth is where the Rays struck again with a lead-off double by Evan Longoria. James Loney then lifted a fly ball to right allowing Longoria to advance to third. With one on and one out Sean Rodriguez tied the game with a bloop single to center. Yunel Escobar then battled Padres pitcher Eric Stults, invoking a wild pitch, allowing Rodriguez to take second base. Heads up baserunning by Rodriguez paid off as Escobar then crushed a ball to right field for an RBI double giving the Rays a 3-2 lead. Stults then made it out of the inning and kept the Padres in the game.
This was a great come-from-behind win for the Rays and is encouraging coming off a walk-off win the night before. The key to victory here was superb pitching coupled with timely hitting. No one performance stood out today aside from the Roberto Hernandez quality start. This was a complete team win. James Loney also continued his hot streak going 2-4 with a solo homer in the eighth, his 3rd on the season.