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June 25, 2013

What You Need to Know

Rays Outshine Jays

by Daniel Rathman


The Monday Takeaway
Dropped into last place in the American League East by the Blue Jays’ recent surge, still waiting for David Price to return from the disabled list, and now without Alex Cobb, the Rays needed a jolt. On Monday night, with those streaking Blue Jays in town, they got three.

With one away in the bottom of the second inning, James Loney cranked a hanging slider from Esmil Rogers over the right-center field wall. Then, in his first plate appearance at Tropicana Field, nearly a week after his promotion from Triple-A Durham, Wil Myers obliterated a fastball 428 feet to straightaway center. And, to cap off the trifecta, Sam Fuld, who had just one homer to his name this season, yanked a 2-0, challenge heater from Rogers deep to right, giving the home team a 3-0 lead.

The sustained production from Loney, the second blast in three days from Myers, and the rare offensive contribution from Fuld were all nice to see. For a Rays club that has typically depended on its ability to prevent runs rather than scoring them in bunches, it’s the improvement in the latter department that has helped Tampa Bay to overcome a slide in the former and still enter play on Monday at 39-37.

But winning a 4-1 ballgame requires a strong run-prevention effort, too. And there were encouraging signs on that front to go with the power display.

Jeremy Hellickson, felled over the first two-and-a-half-months of the season by a diminished strand rate and a relatively bloated BABIP, showed renewed skill in both of those areas in the series opener. The 26-year-old took the mound with a 5.50 ERA and left it with a 5.11 mark after seven innings of shutout ball. He issued four walks—the first four walks that he had given out since the calendar flipped to June—but permitted only one hit, a second-inning single by J.P. Arencibia that he promptly erased by coaxing a twin killing from Maicer Izturis.

Hellickson, who came into his 16th start of the year with a five percent walk rate, the 10th-lowest clip among qualifying American League starters, struggled at times on Monday to hit the targets set by catcher Jose Lobaton. But even without his usually excellent command and control, Hellickson succeeded in keeping the Blue Jays’ red-hot hitters off balance.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (06/25)
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Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (06/24)
Next Column >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (06/26)
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Scouting the Draft: Su... (06/25)

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