On the surface, it may just appear to be a series win for the Tampa Bay Rays over the Toronto Blue Jays, even after being shut out yesterday. Any importance to the three game set may seemingly be in the standings, where the Rays have climbed out of last place, and are now 4.5 games out of first. Yet, there may be greater implications than those two wins.
In particular, the series may be what the Rays pitching staff needed to right itself. Over the three games, the Rays gave up a total of five runs. Although the Blue Jays have not been anything close to what a lot of people thought they would be, they are still tenth in baseball in runs scored, and are second in home runs. Yet, that offense was essentially stifled by Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Roberto Hernandez.
Hellickson has had a rough start to the season, posting a 5.50 ERA despite a 5-3 record before that start. He had a few solid outings, but has been very inconsistent thus far. On Monday, he held the Blue Jays to a single hit over seven shutout innings, on the heels of a solid performance his previous time out against the Red Sox. Even though he walked four batters, Hellickson still threw a good percentage of strikes, and had his second best start of the year according to his game score.
Moore had been struggling throughout the entire month of June after a dominant start to the season where he looked like a potential Cy Young Award candidate. On Tuesday, he looked closer to the pitcher he had been in April and May, holding Toronto to four hits and one run in six innings. He did continue to struggle with his control, walking six, but Moore also struck out eleven as he was able to control the damage. Perhaps this outing will be the catalyst that Moore needed to get himself back on track.
Even Hernandez pitched well in the loss yesterday, allowing three runs in eight innings. On the heels of a couple of rough outings, Hernandez may have needed a performance such as that to have a chance to remain in the rotation once David Price returns. It would certainly help his cause if this outing is a springboard to a run of solid starts, as opposed to the inconsistent performances that he has had this year.
The Rays biggest problem this year has been it’s pitching. Hopefully, this series can be a catalyst for Hellickson, Moore and Hernandez to get back on track.