Game 51: Desmond Jennings Has a Walk-Off Single To Win


Rays come back in the bottom of the ninth to win 7-6.

Coming off a big win last night and looking to win 3 straight, Jeremy Hellickson (2-2, 5.37 ERA) took the hill for Tampa Bay against Kevin Slowey and the Miami Marlins for game 2 of the 4 game home and away series.  Hellickson managed going just 5 1/3 while surrendering 5 runs on 7 hits while striking out 3 and walking 1 on 104 pitches.  With the exception of the third inning Hellickson did not pitch too bad by any means.

The young, but talented Marlins opened the scoring in the top of the 2nd inning when rookie right fielder Marcell Ozuna, coming into the game with a 13 game hit streak, lead off the inning with a double to center field.  Former Ray, Justin Ruggiano, then managed a single past the diving Yunel Escobar, scoring Ozuna to give Miami a 1-0 lead.  Hellickson limited the damage to just that one run and made it out of the inning.

The top of the 3rd inning is where it began to unravel for Hellickson.  After two quick outs the Marlins struck again with a single by veteran third baseman Placido Polanco followed by an RBI triple from Derek Diedrich, giving the Marlins a 2-0 lead.  Still not able to close out the inning Hellickson then walked Ozuna followed by yet another triple, this time by former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, scoring both Polanco & Ozuna and giving Miami a commanding 4-0 lead.

During the bottom of the frame Tampa Bay struck back, after loading the bases, with a Matt Joyce sacrifice fly, cutting the lead to 4-1.  With runners still on first & second and 1 out the red hot Kelly Johnson crushed a double off the wall in center field making it 4-2.  Marlins pitcher Kevin Slowey was able to get out of the jam by striking out Evan Longoria and then forcing James Loney to pop up to short left.

Tampa Bay slowly chipped away at the Marlins lead in the bottom of the 4th with a 1 out double to left field by Desmond Jennings.  After Lobaton struck out, Yunel Escobar proceeded to lace a double to left center field, scoring Jennings and cutting the lead to 4-3.  During the top of the 6th, Chris Coghlan smashes a solo home run to right extending the Marlins lead to 5-3.  After a quick out manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen as Hellickson eclipsed the 100 pitch mark.  Jamie Wright came in and pitched great, going 1 2/3 innings, holding the Marlins at bay until the Rays managed a comeback in the bottom of the 6th.  After Loney lined out to center, Luke Scott doubled to right, chasing Marlins starter Kevin Slowey from the game.  Ryan Webb came in and immediately walked Jennings, putting men on 1st & 2nd with one out.  Jose Lobaton, batting well as of late, lined a sharp double down the right field line scoring both Scott and Jennings and effectively tying the game at 5 apiece.  Tampa Bay was able to capitalize with runners in scoring position tonight as they entered the game third in the majors, batting .293 with RISP.

Joel Peralta entered the game in the 8th looking to hold Miami but struggled, giving up one run on two hits and throwing a wild pitch that eventually made the difference as that put a runner on third base.  With a runner on third Greg Dobbs knocked in a run giving Miami a 6-5 lead.  That lead didn’t last long as Tampa Bay charged back in the bottom of the inning on a 1 out single by Luke Scott followed by a single to right by Jennings.  Pinch hitting for Lobaton, who went 2-3 with 2 RBI, Sean Rodriguez proceeded to strike out.  Yunel Escobar, also having a great game, going 3-4 with 2 RBI, singled to right scoring Scott and tying the game at 6 apiece.  With 2 on and 2 out, the always clutch Ben Zobrist was intentionally walked to load the bases for Ryan Roberts, pinch hitting for Matt Joyce.  Roberts grounded into a force out at second on a close play.

In typical Rays fashion, the stars aligned as a comeback was destined for Tampa Bay yet again.  Kelly Johnson led off the bottom of the 9th with an infield single, off the hand of the pitcher but hustling down the line to just beat the throw.  Longoria followed with a single to left bringing Loney to the plate with 2 on and no one out.  Both Loney and then Scott popped out to left field, wasting opportunities with RISP.  After a quick pitching change to veteran Chad Qualls, Desmond Jennings came to the plate looking to close out the game.  On the second pitch he smoked a pitch, going opposite field to right, scoring Johnson for a 7-6 Rays win.

Up next for the Rays is game 3 of the four game home and away series with the Marlins at 7:10 pm as Roberto Hernandez (2-5, 5.73 ERA) takes the mound against Tom Koehler (0-2, 3.18 ERA)