Heading into tonight’s start against the Florida Marlins, Roberto Hernandez may have been fighting for his spot in the rotation. Performances like tonight will certainly help his case to remain.
The game did not look as though it would end up as a pitcher’s duel at the start. The Rays got to Marlins starter Tom Koehler early, with Ben Zobrist leading off with a single and Matthew Joyce following with a double to put runners on second and third. Kelly Johnson singled to plate Zobrist, and the Rays had a run and two runners on base eight pitches into the game. Evan Longoria grounded into a double play to plate Joyce, and the Rays had a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first.
Miami got a run right back, as Marlins leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan doubled to center. Placido Polanco flied out, and Coghlan tagged in an attempt to get to third. Joyce’s throw skipped past Longoria and ended up in the camera well, allowing Coghlan to score as the Marlins cut the lead in half.
From that point, both pitchers settled in. Hernandez was virtually unhittable, retiring eleven batters in a row until Marcell Ozuna had an infield hit off Longoria in the fifth. However, that single did not faze Hernandez, as he continued to mow down the Marlins lineup.
Tampa got an insurance run in the seventh. With one out, James Loney doubled, and moved to third on a base hit by Desmond Jennings. Yunel Escobar hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Loney to give the Rays a 3-1 lead.
Hernandez was in the midst of another dominant run, as he headed into the ninth inning looking for his first complete game since 2010. After two quick outs, he gave up a base hit and was removed in favor of Fernando Rodney. Hernandez gave up the one unearned run on three hits, striking out five and retiring 26 of 27 batters after the Coghlan double to lead off the game. Rodney gave up a sharp liner to right, but Joyce was able to run it down and the Rays prevailed 3-1.
Jennings had a good day at the plate, going 2-2 with a walk, but was caught stealing second after he overslid the bag, and was picked off first. Koehler had an excellent start for the Marlins, giving up only three runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out four in his eight innings of work.