Jeremy Hellickson remains an enigma in the Tampa Bay Rays rotation. Sometimes he can look dominant, other times he will pitch decently but is inefficient, and at times he looks lost on the mound. Unfortunately for the Rays Tuesday was one of Hellickson’s rougher outings as the Rays lost to the Toronto Blue Jays by a score of 8-2.
Hellickson was looking to build off a solid last start in which he struck out 8 and allowed 2 runs in 6.1 innings, but he could not do so. Against the Jays Hellickson lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2. The problem for Hellickson was his command, as he left too many balls up in the zone, which resulted in 2 home runs that accounted for 4 of the 5 runs scored off of him. Also despite his curveball looking strong early, he never wanted to rely on the pitch even when he couldn’t find the location of his fastball and changeup.
Steve Geltz came on for the second day in a row, and he turned in an impressive outing, going 1.0 innings and striking out 3 while walking 1 and allowing no hits. Geltz had no problem challenge the heart of the Jays order, as he stuck out Melky Cabrera on 3 straight fastballs then threw another 4 to Jose Bautista before finishing him off with a slider. Of Geltz’s 16 pitches, 14 were fastballs.
Brandon Gomes came on after Geltz, and he had a great outing as well. In 2.2 innings of work he did not allow a hit or a walk and he struck out 2 batters. Gomes tinkered with a cutter when he was with the Rays earlier this season, however that basically took his slider out of the picture. Now Gomes has pretty much ditched the cutter and is back to using his fastball-slider combination, though he has also been mixing in a few more splitters than he used to. Cesar Ramos took over for Gomes in the 8th, and he allowed a trio of runs including a 2-run homer to former Rays catcher Dioner Navarro. Ramos did come back out to throw a scoreless 9th.
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the 2nd, the Rays tied things up on a Ryan Hanigan RBI single and later added another run in the inning on a Kevin Kiermaier sac fly. That sac fly was an odd one, as it went to shortstop Jose Reyes, but Reyes caught the ball with his back to the field and too a bit too long to throw the ball in, allowing Yunel Escobar to make a hustle play and score from 3rd. That would be all the scoring for the Rays though, as they would go hitless for the rest of the game. They managed just 2 collective hits, one each by James Loney and Hanigan. The pitching staff may have struggled, but the offense didn’t do much of anything to help them out.