The good news for the Rays: the won two out of three from a Toronto Blue Jays team that had entered the series as winners of 11 in a row. The bad news: R.A. Dickey absolutely owned them in third and final game. Dickey flashed back to his 1-hit performance from last May with the Mets, going the complete game allowing just 2 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. Singles by James Loney and Yunel Escobar and a walk by Desmond Jennings accounted for all the Rays’ baserunners. When Dickey has his knuckleball working well, there’s almost nothing hitters can do. That was most certainly the case on Wednesday afternoon.
Lost in the shuffle in this game was Roberto Hernandez, who give the rays about as good of an outing as they could ask for from their 5th starter. Hernandez went 8+ innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. Melky Cabrera had an RBI single against him in the 4th before Adam Lind drilled a solo homer in the 6th and Edwin Encarnacion did the same against him in the 9th. Hernandez knew that it was just not his day with Dickey going up against him, but he saved the Rays bullpen with 8 strong innings and you hope that this is the outing that finally leads him to more consistent performance moving forward.
Other highlights for the Rays included Jamey Wright, who struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced in the 9th after Hernandez exited, and Jennings, who finally registered his 9th stolen base of the year. After stealing 31 bases in 33 attempts last season, Jennings is just 9 of 15 this season and the Rays need him to find his groove. Pairing his speed with his power and centerfield defense gives Jennings a chance to be a very good all-around player, and the Rays hope that the missing piece of his game is coming along.
The Rays are off on Thursday before beginning a big three-game set with the Detroit Tigers at 7:10 PM on Friday night. Alex Colome gets the call against Tigers Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer as the Rays hope to forget about this final game against the Blue Jays and take the positives of this series into their matchup with the first-place Tigers.