Rays Jump Out to Big Lead, Hold on 6-5
May 18, 2011
A: Toronto Blue Jays
W: Jeremy Hellickson (5-2) 3.18 ERA
L: Jesse Litch (4-3) 4.66 ERA
S: Kyle Farnsworth (9) 1.76 ERA
Tonight was a tale of two games and fortunately for the Rays, they got a big enough lead in the first half of the game to hold off the Blue Jays in the second half of the game.
Jesse Litch, a former Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ bat boy, got the start for the Jays. His start and the defense behind him were a mess. The Rays scored three each in the second and the third thanks to walks, hit by pitches and errors. Elliot Johnson‘s single in the second drove home two runs when Jose Bautista committed an error. Evan Longoria was hit by a pitch to lead off the third and Matt Joyce followed with a two run homer. Altogether, the Jays committed five errors and Rays fans could be forgiven for thinking this would be an easy win.
Jeremy Hellickson was absolutely cruising, continuing to build off his stellar start from last Friday. However, he allowed a run in the fourth and fifth and two more in the sixth before he was removed for Juan Cruz. It was just a matter of whether the Rays bullpen could hang on. In the seventh, Yunel Escobar walked. After Corey Patterson struck out, Joe Maddon elected to walk Jose Bautista intentionally. Good move. Bautista is absolutely locked in. He had hit two balls very hard early in the game and there was no sense in giving him the chance to tie the game. Of course, the walk put the tying runs on base, but Matt Joyce made a nice running catch to preserve the lead and close out the seventh.
Kyle Farnsworth closed out the game, although he gave up a run. The important thing was that he avoided Bautista who was on deck when Patterson ended the game with a strikeout.
Well, it wasn’t pretty. This is what Joe Maddon tweeted after the game, “No such thing as an ugly win but tonight wasn’t exactly an oil painting. More like a finger painting.” Agreed.
Player of the Game: Joel Peralta. It’s not often that a middle reliever finds himself as the player of the game, but he really saved this contest for the Rays, going 1.1 innings and retiring every hitter he faced.