BY: John Mamola / 620wdae.com
Less than twenty four hours after the Rays offense blasted four solo home runs in route to a 8-5 win over Toronto on Friday night, Tampa Bay relied on some ‘small ball’ to take the second game of the series across the border 4-3. With the win, the Rays have won 15 of 17 games in the month of July and now are set two games back of the first place Boston Red Sox.
Jeremy Hellickson only needed five innings of work against the Jays as the Rays offense provided enough early run support for the entirety of the afternoon. The ‘small ball’ for began in the very first inning as Desmond Jennings started the game with a walk, only to advance to second on a bunt single by Ben Zobrist. Evan Longoria flied out deep to right field advancing Jennings to third, only to be knocked in on a Wil Myers fly out to right field giving the Rays an early 1-0 lead on Blue Jays’ starter Mark Buehrle.
The Rays were not done with the ‘small ball’ attack as they added three more runs in the third inning. A lead off single by Sam Fuld started things, followed by Desmond Jennings bunt single advancing Fuld to second base. Zobrist then walked to lead the bases for Evan Longoria grounding into a fielder’s choice scoring Fuld to make it 2-0 Rays. Wil Myers followed Longo with an RBI single scoring Jennings giving the Rays a 3-0 lead. The Rays final tally of the inning was courtesy of an error by Brett Lawrie who throw the ball past first base on a sure fire double play. The error resulted in Evan Longoria scoring to make it 4-0 Rays.
Hellickson’s lone mistake was in the Blue Jays half of the third inning as Jose Bautista blasted his 22nd home run of the season getting the Jays on the board at 4-1. Toronto added another run in the fifth inning as Jose Reyes scored on a ground out by Edwin Encarnacion. Hellickson was charged with a balk and a wild pitch in the frame allowing Reyes to advance to third base following his lead off single in the inning.
The Blue Jays threatened in the bottom of the eighth as the Rays walked the bases loaded with no outs, but Joel Peralta shut the door getting the next three batters out with a pop fly and two strikeouts. The Blue Jays put a scare into the Rays scoring a run in the ninth on Fernando Rodney’s first error since 2011 allowing Lawrie to score putting the Jays within one run. Rodney then ended the game on a fly out to center sealing the Rays 4-3 win.
Jeremy Hellickson earned his ninth win of the season, including his fifth in his last six starts, pitching five innings allowing both Toronto runs on five hits with three strikeouts. Fernando Rodney earned his 23rd save allowing just the single run in the ninth. Mark Buehrle gets the loss and falls to 5-7 on the season. Every hitter in the Rays lineup recorded a hit except Jose Molina who finished 0-4.
The Rays will look for the sweep of the Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon as they send Chris Archer against R.A. Dickey for Toronto. Catch all the action on WDAE (620AM/95.3FM) beginning at 11:00am with the pre-game, and a 1:07pm first pitch.