With the way the last two games for gone for the Rays, they needed a win against the Baltimore Orioles. While it may not have been pretty, the Rays did manage to get that victory.
The Rays scored quickly, as Matthew Joyce scored on a sacrifice fly in the first inning as Tampa struck first. But the Orioles came right back, taking the lead on a two run single from Chris Davis in the bottom of the inning. They extended the lead on J.J. Hardy‘s solo home run to lead off the second, and the orioles were ahead 3-1. Things did not look positive for the Rays, as Hellickson was having issues commanding his curveball, and appeared to be struggling through the first two innings.
Then the Rays offense came alive against Orioles starter Jason Hammel. Tampa cut the lead to one in the top of the third, then Kelly Johnson hit a two out, three run home run after a borderline pitch on 2-2 was called a ball to put the Rays ahead 5-3. They scored four more in the fifth, with Johnson getting an RBI single (and getting thrown out trying to stretch it into a double) to chase Hammel. Alex Burnett came in to try to eat up some outs, but essentially poured petrol on the fire. Following a walk, Yunel Escobar hit a ground rule double to plate another run, and Desmond Jennings followed with a two run single to put the Rays on top 9-3. Hammel ended up lasting 4.2 innings, and gave up seven runs on ten hits and two walks.
Hellickson had settled in, and was cruising along, throwing strikes and working quickly. He gave up a run in the bottom of the fifth, but the Rays scored three more times in the top of the sixth as they had a 12-4 lead heading into the eighth inning. A lead off triple turned into a run on a groundout, and the orioles had a runner on first with two out. Unfortunately, Hellickson ran out of steam, as Davis doubled to deep center, putting runners on second and third. Matt Wieters followed with a two run single, as Hellickson was removed in favor of Kyle Farnsworth. Like Burnett for the Orioles, Farnsworth provided no relief. After a base hit, Chris Dickerson hit his first home run of the year to cut the lead to 12-10. What seemed like a certain victory had now come into question.
Following a base hit, Farnsworth was removed, and Joel Peralta came in. Peralta was able to stop the bleeding, recording the last four outs to preserve the Rays 12-10 victory. Hellickson earned the win, giving up eight runs on ten hits and a walk in 7.2 innings. While the line may not be pretty, Hellickson did what he needed to do – get outs and do his best to preserve the bullpen.
Johnson had a big game for the Rays, going 3-5 with a double, a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored. Every Ray in the starting lineup had at least one hit, and were on base at least twice, as the Rays clobbered Orioles pitching for 17 hits and five walks.